Customer service isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when we are preparing to file a tax return or renew a driver’s license. Out of necessity, we brace ourselves to cope with long forms, longer lines, and a collective sense of frustration.
If Michael Maiorana ’99 MBA has his way, however, this will change. As vice president, Public Sector – Experience Insights and Analytics at Medallia, a challenge he took on in 2022, Maiorana is dedicating his expertise to helping government agencies improve citizen and employee experiences.
“Customer experience is a no-brainer for commercial clients, but there is an important case to be made for government agencies to improve customer experience,” Maiorana explains. “In one sense, governments have a responsibility to improve public trust. In addition, however, there are enormous opportunities to improve operational efficiencies and the cost to serve.”
“For example, it is very expensive to run a call center,” he continues. “Having an effective, user-friendly website that improves self-service hence reduces calls by even 10% and can save significant tax dollars.”
Maiorana also points out that satisfied customers mean lower stress levels for front-line employees, contributing to improved hiring and retention outcomes.
This is a mission that Maiorana is more than prepared to tackle. After earning an undergraduate degree in marketing at Rutgers, Maiorana joined the sales force at Bell Atlantic, which would later become Verizon. That was in 1990 and over the next 30 years he would climb Verizon’s corporate ladder through 12 different roles, each with increased responsibilities.
“By around 1997, I was responsible for large corporate customers in the New York-New Jersey area,” Maiorana recalls. “I realized that I was going to need a more balanced education to keep moving forward in my career.”
Maiorana decided to pursue Montclair’s MBA in Finance. He was drawn to the program’s quality as well as its flexible scheduling and convenient location – a must for a professional who regularly worked 60-hour weeks, particularly in the days before online courses were available.
Much about the four years he spent completing his MBA were memorable for Maiorana, including racing to class after work; grabbing dinner on the run; meeting people from varied backgrounds; and especially the education he received and what it has meant for his career. “The finance MBA was the perfect complement to my marketing background,” he says. “Being able to understand how businesses operate, how they turn profits by managing operating expenses and revenues, gave me a whole new perspective. It also enhanced my credibility when I needed to bring together various company divisions to negotiate major contracts.”
In 2003, Verizon tapped Maiorana to lead a brand-new initiative. As vice president of Federal Sales and Operations, Maiorana’s charge was to pursue government agencies as clients. “There was no infrastructure in place for this at Verizon at the time – no one had done it before,” he says. “I developed sales and service teams, built out marketing, contracting, all of the functions needed to win and grow a sustainable business. The finance knowledge I had acquired at Montclair really helped.”
Maiorana turned into the government marketplace so successfully that within five years Verizon named him president of the Washington, D.C., Maryland and Virginia region. The new role put him in charge of all of the region’s sales, customer support, distribution channels and marketing.
Once again, Maiorana’s expertise and hard work kept his star on the rise. In 2013 he became senior vice president – Public Sector at Verizon Business, responsible for federal and state government clients nationally, a $5 billion enterprise. On his watch, Verizon became the largest telecommunications provider to the U.S. Federal Government, ranking 17 on the Washington Technology Top 100.
On the crest of that wave, Maiorana decided it was time to try something new. He spent nearly two years as senior vice president of Public Sector at Persado, a company that uses AI-generated content for communications and customer experience, before joining Medallia, the market leader in customer, employee, citizen, and patient experience.
He will be working with the public-facing departments of government agencies to help them understand how their people, websites and call centers are being received by the people who rely on them. “We provide insights and analytics that illustrate true customer sentiment, providing actionable data to improve service delivery and operations,” he says.
Maiorana continues to appreciate what the Montclair MBA did for his career. “What I learned has been highly applicable to my work and has had a major impact on my development as a business leader,” he notes.
“I encourage every MBA student to be bold in applying what they learn to their work and life,” Maiorana adds. “Don’t leave your degree on the shelf. Use it to impact your career, and be bold about using and promoting your expertise.”