ORLANDO, Fla. - When a company is preparing for what will be its most successful product launch ever, it pays to plan ahead. Ajay Waghray, chief information officer for Verizon Wireless, knows that from first-hand experience with the carrier’s launch this year of the iPhone.

Verizon Wireless sold more iPhones in the first two hours of its launch Feb. 3 than any first-day launch in its history.

Waghray said the phased launch went off without a hitch, proving the value of the extensive planning his team had done. Now, Verizon Wireless is expanding the lessons learned, especially in optimizing and streamlining the customer experience,with two new tools for its users. One is a mobile version of its customer Web interface, MyVerizon, and a data widget on handsets that lets customers know how much and what kind of data they are using.

Waghray said in an interview at CTIA Wireless 2011 that the MyVerizon mobile interface and data widget are part of the operator’s intent to streamline point-of-sale systems and other customer touchpoints. Verizon Wireless took the top 20 customer touchpoints and focused on streamlining them so users could get answers or make changes to their service and devices more easily.

The MyVerizon mobile interface includes icons for the bill, plan, device and customer profile. Touching one of those icons displays the top 20 choices based on broad customer usage data.

The data widget on the home screen includes a summary of data usage but touching the icon drills down into what kind of data, such as text messages or email.

Initially, the new data widget and MyVerizon mobile are available primarily for Research In Motion (RIM) and Android devices but will be available later for other platforms, including the iPhone, Brew, Windows and Palm operating systems.

Verizon Wireless also has a set-up wizard on handsets that allows customers to set up account preferences like billing options and a backup assistant. Subscribers can use the latter to store contacts and, as an option later this year, content like photos.

The self-help features help the operator deflect calls that might otherwise go to a customer care center, leaving those people more time to handle more complex questions. With 94 million customers, that can make a big difference.

Ultimately,Waghray said, the mobile tools are designed to improve the customer experience, which leads to customer retention. Verizon Wireless has been at or near the top in that category for years, so Waghray’sefforts are paying off.