10.21.2009Personal Tech

Verizon FiOS Customer Self-Help Tool Popular With Users; New Features Make Setting Up a Computer and Managing Computer Security Even Easier

Just three months old, Verizon's FiOS In-Home Agent - the automated self-help tool - already has been used by hundreds of thousands of customers and is now getting its first upgrades.

The online help tool, introduced in July, is available to all FiOS customers using PCs and subscribing to FiOS Internet service.  The upgrades allow customers to, among other things, more easily set up new computers or manage computer security.

The In-Home Agent now is helping FiOS customers, and a version of the tool for Verizon High Speed Internet DSL-based Internet service is planned.

Nearly 700,000 Verizon customers have the application installed on their computers, and more than 20 percent of them have tried it to easily and quickly get help with questions or problems.  Most have used the application more than once.

"These numbers indicate that we're onto something," said Bill Foshay, senior vice president of regional operations.  "Customers want efficient and effective help, but getting it over the phone from a live agent can take time.  Because the In-Home Agent works with Verizon's network and service support systems, customers can quickly get help with setup and other issues."

Customer feedback is extremely positive.  As one Maryland customer put it, "The In-Home Agent is great! I fixed my problem on the first try."  And a New York customer wrote, "This tool is very helpful, especially for an elderly person like me to understand how to do the job. Thanks."

Industry expert Bruce McGregor, senior analyst of digital home services for the research firm Current Analysis, noted that "a majority of FiOS customers would much rather quickly fix a problem themselves than wait to speak to a customer service representative."  By offering customers the option to find and solve a problem quickly, McGregor said, Verizon is able "to ward off customer complaints before they happen."

With the agent, subscribers can easily add a new computer to their home network, set up a new e-mail account or order or reauthorize subscription TV channels.  Other routine changes can easily be made such as initializing a broadband home router, modifying phone features, and managing access to voice mail accounts.  The In-Home Agent can also retrieve instructions for phone or e-mail features or obtain step-by-step instructions for setup issues.

If customers are having problems, a single click can automatically troubleshoot lost Internet connectivity or maximize Internet service speeds; or for TV service, troubleshoot video problems or the TV picture. 

Latest Enhancements

Using the latest release of the In-Home Agent, FiOS customers can now use a standard USB thumb drive (memory stick) to add new PCs to their home Wi-Fi networks - usually in a matter of minutes.

In addition, the tool lets customers choose whether to use WEP security or the tougher WPA2 security on their home networks and simplifies setting up the security systems on the router and connected computers.

The In-Home Agent is installed with each new FiOS setup.  It is also available to FiOS customers at www.verizon.com/inhomeagent.  The application has been optimized to download as a smaller file in just a few seconds.

Verizon Expanding Self-Help Initiatives

The Verizon In-Home Agent is one of several ways Verizon is making it easier for customers to solve problems or change services.  Online tools as well as shortcuts on existing voice response units that initiate line tests, repairs and automate connections to the best person are among the tools available for self-help.

The In-Home Agent is yet another example of the kind innovation that makes Verizon's FiOS service a superb customer experience," Foshay said.