New 'Easy 0' Service Speeds Calls to Key Verizon Services in Maryland

BALTIMORE -- Beginning today, dialing "0" will provide more Maryland callers with shortcuts to many of the Verizon services they frequently call.

Verizon is introducing its "Easy 0sm" service to customers in Western Maryland and on the Eastern Shore, following successful launches in the Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, Boston, New York and North Jersey markets. The new service will be introduced in stages over the next several weeks.

Easy 0 gives customers access to a menu that instantly connects them at no additional charge to services they request from operators, including Verizon business offices, repair service, directory assistance, and call completion options.

Easy 0 is now available to customers calling from more than 14 million customer lines in the Northeast and mid-Atlantic states.

"With Easy 0, callers get what they want faster and without having to redial another number," said Kitty Linder, president of operator services for Verizon. "We began testing this new service after studies showed that more than half the calls to '0,' our call completion service, didn't belong there. And when that happened, customers had to redial the correct number or wait to be transferred."

For example, studies revealed 11 percent of callers who dialed "0" actually wanted directory assistance, which is available by dialing 411. Among the more than 40 percent of miscellaneous calls handled by call completion operators were requests for the temperature, the cooking time for turkeys and the number of eggs used to bake a cake.

Nearly 25 percent of calls to operators are from customers who do not know where to call for Verizon repair service, order new services or resolve billing questions.

With Easy 0 access, customers hear a standard greeting and then seven choices. Pressing the single digit that matches the appropriate choice makes an instant connection to the service they need.

    The options include:

  • Traditional operator services -- placing collect, bill-to-third-party or credit card calls.

  • Verification and interruption of a busy line.

  • Assistance for callers with special needs.

  • Verizon local and national 411.

  • Telephone repair service.

  • Business or residence service centers for ordering services or discussing billing, and

  • Automatic connection to the appropriate emergency police, fire or ambulance agency.

Trials of Easy 0 began in July 1999 in Wheaton, Md., and were expanded to parts of the Washington, D.C. area; suburban Philadelphia; New Jersey, New York and Boston. Customers readily adopted the new service and appreciate the ease of access it gives them to key services.

"Our trials proved that skeptics who say menus are cold and impersonal are wrong," Linder said. "Today, efficiency is a priority, but so is personal service. And with Easy 0 access, customers have it both ways. They get a speedy dispatch of their call to the right person who's ready to help."

The major long-distance carriers and many local service providers have used menu-driven operator services for several years now, Linder noted.

The job of a call completion operator is to assist in completing calls. The initial trial proved that when callers asked the operator for other services or information, it wasted time for both the caller and the operator. The new menu eliminates that. Verizon has found that customers will memorize the menu selections they use the most, further expediting their service.

The first menu option provides an immediate connection to emergency services to expedite assistance for callers who dial 0 instead of 911. Callers who follow the prompt to "dial 9 now" will be connected automatically to their local public safety emergency answering center. Of course, dialing 911 directly is still the preferred dialing for emergencies.

    The Easy 0 menu selections are:

  • For emergency police, fire or ambulance service, press or dial 9 now.

  • To place a collect, calling card or bill-to-third-party call, press 2. Enter area code and number you are calling now. The call will be routed via the appropriate carrier, either Verizon or the customer's toll or long-distance carrier.

  • To verify or interrupt a busy line, press 3.

  • To obtain a local or national telephone number or area code information, press 4.

  • To reach Verizon's repair service, press 5.

  • To reach Verizon's business office, press 6 (followed by 1 for home service or 2 for business service).

  • To repeat the menu, press 7 now or, for special assistance, please hold for an operator.

Patent protection for the company's Easy 0 system is pending.

Verizon Communications

Verizon Communications (NYSE:VZ) is one of the world's leading providers of communications services. Verizon companies are the largest providers of wireline and wireless communications in the United States, with nearly 109 million access line equivalents and more than 27.5 million wireless customers. Verizon is also the world's largest provider of print and online directory information. A Fortune 10 company with approximately 260,000 employees and more than $63 billion in annual revenues, Verizon's global presence extends to 40 countries in the Americas, Europe, Asia and the Pacific. For more information on Verizon, visit www.verizon.com.