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

RICHMOND, Va. -- Dialing "0" will soon provide many Virginia callers with shortcuts to services at Verizon that they frequently call.

Verizon is introducing its "Easy 0sm" service to its customers in the state that were served by Bell Atlantic prior to its merger with GTE

to become Verizon. The introduction of the service will be gradual, over the coming weeks, as Verizon upgrades its switching centers throughout the state.

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 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.

A trial of Easy 0 began in July 1999 in Wheaton, Md., and the service is now available in a number of East Coast markets. 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, 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 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 (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 112 million access line equivalents and 27 million wireless customers. Verizon is also the largest

directory publisher in the world. A Fortune 10 company with approximately 260,000 employees and more than $65 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