Anyone who runs a business, whether a deli at the corner of Halsey Street in Newark, or a Fortune 100 company on Broad Street, knows the importance of customer service. And nobody knows that better than Paul Sullivan, the vice president of wireline field operations for Verizon in New Jersey.

TAP Into Newark caught up with Sullivan to talk about the importance of customer service in the ultra competitive world of premium television, phone and Internet, where the battle for customers is fierce and never-ceasing.

"Verizon is providing an amazing product, connecting fiber from our central office directly to each home and business customer,” Sullivan said. “We provide data speeds up to 500 megabits per second with our super-fast FiOS Quantum Internet service, unparalleled content for FiOS TV, reliability backed by a fleet of technicians and amazing offers that continually build our customer base in New Jersey.”

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But if customer service does not meet customer expectation, Sullivan said, Verizon can’t succeed.

“Our competitors can’t beat us on product because we have FiOS, but we would still lose customers if we were not so committed to customer service,” Sullivan said. “Customers don’t have to wait until an election. They can vote now with their wallet, and my job is to ensure that Verizon always comes out on top.”

Sullivan, who lives in Morristown, has been in telecommunications since in 1986, when he joined New England Telephone as a central office technician. He has steadily moved up the ranks of responsibility, learning every facet of the business.

Sullivan now oversees a massive customer base that encompasses every county in New Jersey south of Sussex. Verizon employs more than 4,600 employees in more than 50 facilities to respond to customers.

When a customer calls Verizon with a concern, the clock starts ticking. Each and every call must be addressed immediately, Sullivan said.

While Verizon has earned a reputation in the industry for its customer service, Sullivan knows that customers have many choices. That’s why he’s constantly on the lookout for new ways to enhance the customer experience at Verizon.

“We have customer care managers across the state looking for trends in our system,” he said. “If we detect part of the system is not operating optimally, we go in and fix it. We don’t wait for customers to call. But when they do, we make sure their concern is addressed with just one dispatch of a technician. Time is valuable; we want to make sure any problem is corrected immediately.”

Sullivan said the goal is to have every customer interaction be perfect. When customers call Verizon, representatives are trained to listen, to serve and to care.

“The first minute of the call is the most important,” he said. “We listen, we recap why the customer called and then we focus on a solution that customers deserve and expect.”

Sullivan said intense competition from other companies makes him better at his job.

In his spare time, Sullivan is proud to chair the Board of Directors for the American Red Cross of Northern New Jersey. He is also an avid runner, completing 33 full marathons, to date. He recently completed the Ocean Drive Marathon in 3 hours and 37 minutes and can’t wait to hit the road again.