Bell Atlantic Offers Businesses Free Help, 'Hollywood' Announcers, for Voice Message Greetings

Bell Atlantic Offers Businesses Free Help,
'Hollywood' Announcers, for Voice Message

Research Shows Small Businesses Want
To Make Powerful First Impression

September 24, 1998


Jim Smith,

Or contact your local Bell Atlantic media representative

BOSTON -- Because first impressions count just as much for small businesses
as they do for large multinationals, Bell Atlantic is offering free consultation
and professionally-recorded greetings to new customers of its business voice
messaging service.

Research by Bell Atlantic shows that small companies want to appear bigger,
more polished and professional because they feel it inspires customer
confidence and potentially greater sales. Voice messaging helps them do that.

In addition, according to Lisa Harrison, product manager for Bell Atlantic
Business Call Answering Service, voice messaging reinforces customer service
attributes of small companies by making them accessible and efficient.

Harrison said that focus groups and scientific samplings of owners and decision-
makers at small businesses netted some interesting findings.

"The majority listed customer service as their most critical concern. And that
means always being accessible," Harrison said. "Mirroring large businesses,
small business owners want to receive and respond promptly to all incoming
calls, whether they're in the office or away from it, or even when they're on
another phone line. This way, they won't miss sales opportunities or critical
customer contacts. However, they'd like to do all of that easily, conveniently
and affordably, without having to invest in additional office equipment."

Harrison said owners of small businesses reported that they prefer a voice
message system with a professionally recorded greeting rather than an
answering machine -- but most believe that option is too expensive.

In direct response to the findings, Bell Atlantic is offering a unique service to businesses in Vermont, Maine, Rhode Island and Massachusetts.

"We're offering Bell Atlantic Business Voice Mail® with a customized,
professionally recorded message, at no extra charge. We're even providing a
free creative consultant to help business owners craft their messages, which
we'll studio-produce," said Amy Mackoul, Bell Atlantic market manager.

Bell Atlantic has set up an 800 number that customers can call to hear examples
of professional greetings and learn about the advantages of voice messaging.
The number is 1-800-715-7734.

"This is like a Hollywood makeover for small businesses," Mackoul added.
"Business Voice Mail does more than polish a company's image. It answers
phones 24 hours a day, every day, even when lines are busy. And it doesn't lose
messages, so small businesses can 'be there' for their customers virtually all the time."

To new customers of the service who order before Dec. 7, Bell Atlantic will
waive the voice mail connection charges in Maine and Massachusetts. (There
are no connection charges in Rhode Island and Vermont.) Service can be
ordered by calling toll-free 1-800-343-4343, extension 730.

"Where else can businesses get a professional announcer to answer calls, and a
script consultant free of charge?" Mackoul questioned. "The way you answer
your phones says a lot about your company. This is one sure way to get a crisp,
clear, professional voice to represent you and your company's image. And it
speaks well for you, each and every day, at a very reasonable price."

Bell Atlantic's General Business Services offers an extensive suite of
communications solutions for small- to medium-sized businesses. Whether for
voice, data, images or video, Bell Atlantic's business solutions represent a
tailored approach for customers. Account team members and Customer
Response Center representatives work closely with business owners and
managers, educating and guiding them through the complexities of today's
communication technologies. To learn more Bell Atlantic's communications
solutions, visit http://www.bellatlantic.com/smallbiz or contact Ed Beckley,
Bell Atlantic Business Marketing Communications, at 804-772-1100.

Bell Atlantic is at the forefront of the new communications and information
industry. With more than 41 million telephone access lines and more than seven
million wireless customers worldwide, Bell Atlantic companies are premier
providers of advanced wireline voice and data services, market leaders in
wireless services and the world's largest publishers of directory information.
Bell Atlantic companies are also among the world's largest investors in high-
growth global communications markets, with operations and investments in 23