Verizon FiOS customers now have direct access to an application that performs many of the same setup, management and troubleshooting functions that previously required assistance from a help desk representative. Back-office systems and information resources have been integrated to create a tool that operates with point-and-click simplicity to perform functions like configuring a new PC to work on a home Wi-Fi network, setting up e-mail accounts, and automatically fixing Internet access or video problems.
"Many service requests, either for feature or function setup or operational issues, can now be resolved without a phone call," said Bill Foshay, senior vice president, Verizon Telecom regional operations. "Nothing could be simpler - and you need no technical skills whatsoever. In many cases, you just click on the appropriate icon and the system does the rest. It's like assigning one of our agents to each customer's home, and it's faster than any other form of service interaction."
FiOS Platform Underpins New Feature
Aptly named the Verizon In-Home Agent, the new tool leverages the unique capabilities of the Verizon FiOS network to provide help with support issues - within a single application - for Verizon FiOS customers. The home network connects the PC, broadband home router, set-top box and TV in FiOS-enabled homes and links to various Verizon operating systems and information resources.
"This is the kind of breakthrough in service delivery that keeps Verizon's FiOS service ahead of the competition," Foshay said. "With this tool, we are again outpacing the industry with breakthrough advances in service quality and innovation. We're proving once again that our advanced fiber network is a big winner in the marketplace."
Subscribers can easily set up new wireless PC connections and e-mail accounts or initialize their broadband home router; order or reauthorize subscription TV channels; modify phone features and access voice mail accounts; retrieve instructions for phone or e-mail features; and obtain step-by-step instructions for setup issues, just as if they were being walked through the steps by an agent on the phone.
If subscribers 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 restore service.
Already installed on thousands of FiOS home customers' desktops, the service is proving to be very popular.
"Customers love its simplicity and the fact that it saves them the time they'd spend calling and working with one of our representatives," Foshay said.
On-Screen 'Quick Codes' for TV
In addition to the In-Home Agent, Verizon also has introduced a series of "quick codes" on the TV screen that, when utilized, can quickly identify and resolve a customer's FiOS TV problems or subscribe on the spot to many video options.
For example, customers who get a "channel not available" or other on-screen message are given instructions on how to restore or establish service: They dial a toll-free number, enter a four-digit code, both of which appear on the screen, and the networked systems can either authorize service on the channel or provide instructions for subscription or restore the channel by cross-checking the customer's account.
This approach simplifies the technical-support process for customers. Previously, customers had to call Verizon, have their issue screened and then, if necessary, work with a customer care agent. With the quick codes, each four-digit code is tied to a unique situation, so the proper solutions are identified and applied quickly.
Later this year, subscribers will be able to initiate the support inquiries and solutions by just pressing a button on the FiOS TV's remote control, eliminating the need to make a phone call.
The Verizon In-Home Agent is now included in all Verizon FiOS customer installations. FiOS subscribers who utilize the Verizon Help and Support Toolkit will receive the application automatically in the coming weeks as part of a toolkit upgrade. Customers who don't find the agent icon on their desktop can download it at www.verizon.com/connect by clicking on "download the FiOS connection wizard." The tool is not yet configured to work with Mac operating systems.