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

PROVIDENCE, R.I. - Beginning today, dialing "0" will provide Rhode Island callers with shortcuts to many of the Verizon services they frequently call.

"Easy 0"sm 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 Verizon customers in New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania and Washington, D.C.

"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 tested 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 were from customers who do not know where to call to order new Verizon services, report a repair problem 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:

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

  • 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.

Verizon first offered Easy 0 in a trial to its Wheaton, Md., customers in July 1999. Customers readily adopted the new service and appreciated the ease of access it gave 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, 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 Easy O menu eliminates that. Verizon has found that customers 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.

  • For help with placing a local or long-distance call, press 2. To make a collect call, calling-card call or to bill this call to another number, press 1. Please enter the area code and telephone number you want to call. To have an operator assist you, press 2. (The call will be routed via the appropriate carrier, either Verizon or the customer's toll or long-distance carrier.)

  • To check on or interrupt a busy line, press 3.

  • To request a phone number or area code, press 4.

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

  • To reach a Verizon business office or to arrange credit, press 6. For home or residential service, press 1. For business service, press 2.

  • To hear these choices again, press 7 or, for all other service, please hold for an operator.

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

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 133.8 million access line equivalents and approximately 29.6 million wireless customers. Verizon is also the largest directory publisher in the world. With more than $67 billion in annual revenues and nearly 248,000 employees, Verizon's global presence extends to more than 40 countries in the Americas, Europe, Asia and the Pacific. For more information on Verizon, visit www.verizon.com.