Verizon's Revamped Web Site Scores Big Hit With Customers

NEW YORK -- It's 3 a.m. and Verizon is open for business. Each week, the company's Web site handles 50,000 transactions, from orders for phone service to bill payments, at night or on weekends when the company's offices are closed. The site, Verizon.com, is meeting customers' needs for a new way to do business with the phone company.

"With almost no promotion, the site has really taken off," said Maria Malicka, executive director of e-commerce for Verizon's consumer marketing group. "We are offering online shopping, buying and bill paying, and customers love it."

Since its launch last November, Verizon.com has had nearly three million unique visitors, and nearly one million customers have registered for around-the-clock access to their accounts and bills.

Verizon.com also provides customers with useful tools for doing business with Verizon, including reporting phone problems and tracking repair orders. And, the Web site makes it easy for customers to order or find information about Verizon products and services.

Over the past six weeks, nearly 50,000 customers have cancelled their paper bills, a new online option, choosing to view charges and pay online.

"Close to a million customers have paid their bills online ," Malicka said. "They know it saves postage and trees," she said.

With online bill viewing and payment, customers can review all billing details, including toll-calling records for the current period and 12 prior months. If they see a number they don't recognize, they can click to see the name and address of the called party. Payments can be made each month automatically using either direct debit or credit cards.

Television advertising promoting online payments began this week in New York and Boston. Two 15-second commercials, produced by Draft Worldwide, are expected to boost online bill viewing and payment in those markets. The ads, featuring true-life scenarios, will run in additional markets next month.

In one ad, a customer topples a stack of paper on his crowded desk while paying his bill and a voiceover says, "Ditch the paper."

Approximately 5,000 customers register to use the site each day. To register, customers must create a user name and password and, for security purposes, enter information from their most recent Verizon bill.

The new Web site was created by Verizon's Information Technology team.

"The site was developed based on significant customer experience modeling and interviews through dozens of focus groups over 12 months," said Fari Ebrahimi, senior vice president for the Verizon Information Technology group. "We created a new online experience that puts our customers at the center of our service model."

"We also wrote hundreds of real-time interfaces to more than 70 unique back office systems, running on a mix of hundreds of Unix and mainframe systems in six different regions across the country."

Hundreds of thousands of Web pages housed on the former GTE and Bell Atlantic Web sites were revised and powered with new links and functions, including the recent addition of a new a click-to-chat tool for customers who need live help from a service representative.

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.


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