Bell Atlantic first with long-term solution that lets customers keep their number when switching phone companies

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ALBANY, N.Y. -- New York consumers and businesses are reaping the benefits of Bell Atlantic's sweeping efforts to improve service through increased network investments, new service delivery processes and the addition of service-related jobs over the last 18 months.
From September, 1996, through August, 1997, Bell Atlantic met or exceeded 94 percent of the service targets contained in the regulatory plan under which the company operates in New York. These results were reported at the end of the second year of the state's seven-year Performance Regulatory Plan (PRP), which includes nearly 1,000 monthly, quarterly and annual service delivery targets. During the first year of the plan, Bell Atlantic met 80 percent of the targets.
"These results show that we are fast becoming the company that sets the service standard for our industry," said Arnie Eckelman, Bell Atlantic Group President-Customer Services. "What's remarkable about them is that our service quality continued to improve even though the PRP's goals get more difficult each year. And our performance was stronger while we met a record demand for telephone lines and optional services and faced increasing competition in our marketplace.
"Excellent service is what a successful company must provide in a competitive marketplace," Eckelman added.
Under the PRP -- which was adopted by the New York Public Service Commission (PSC) in August, 1995 -- Bell Atlantic must meet a stringent set of service quality standards that get tougher each year. The plan continues until year 2002.
If Bell Atlantic does not meet PRP targets, the company has guaranteed its service by agreeing to pay rebates to customers in affected areas. Once the PSC completes its review of the second year results, it is expected that Bell Atlantic in New York will pay rebates to its customers that are dramatically less than what it paid during the plan's first year. While the amount is not yet finalized, it is estimated to be less than one-tenth of what the company paid during the PRP's first year.
"Our results here, as well as our new customer care program announced earlier this week, clearly demonstrate that quality service is our top priority," added Eckelman, who is now responsible for customer services across the Bell Atlantic region.
The service quality targets Bell Atlantic must meet in New York include the following: The rate and total number of repairs, missed repair appointments, lines out of service for more than 24 hours, speed of answer on customer calls to company business offices and customer complaints to the commission.
This year, to improve service in New York, Bell Atlantic has added 1,100 service-related jobs and increased its annual network construction budget to over $1.5 billion -- a more than $200 million increase.
Earlier this week, Bell Atlantic also announced a program heightening its commitment to quality service across the region it serves. The new "customer care" program, which builds on service improvement practices that have worked well in various parts of the business, includes:
  • Sixty-day money back guarantees on many of Bell Atlantic's most popular features.
  • Automatic credits when a phone line is out of service for more than 24 hours.
  • Forwarding of incoming calls during prolonged outages.
  • Follow-up telephone calls to customers after their service is installed or repaired.
Bell Atlantic service results are expected to be reviewed at an upcoming New York PSC meeting.
The new Bell Atlantic - formed through the merger of Bell Atlantic and NYNEX - is at the forefront of the new communications, information and entertainment industry. With 40 million telephone access lines and 5.8 million wireless customers worldwide, Bell Atlantic companies are premier providers of advanced wireline voice and data services, market leaders in wireless services and the world's largest publishers of directory information. Bell Atlantic companies are also among the world's largest investors in high-growth global communications markets, with operations and investments in 21 countries.

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