PHOENIX, July 19, 2001 ? Qwest Communications International Inc. (NYSE:Q), the broadband communications company, announced today it is opening a new customer care center in Phoenix to speed customer access to a Qwest representative. Additionally, the company achieved strong improvement in customer service in Arizona through the second quarter 2001 ? the best results in six years in key areas for residential and small-business customers.
The new customer care center at 20 East Thomas Road is expected to open later this summer with approximately 150 employees. At peak staffing, the center could grow to approximately 400 employees with salaries up to $38,000 per year. Consultants handle service, billing and payment questions for residential customers located within the 14 Western states where Qwest provides local service.
"I'm delighted Qwest has chosen Arizona as a place to expand their commitment to customer service throughout their 14-state region," said Governor Jane Hull.
Phoenix Mayor Skip Rimsza said, "Qwest's care center is a welcome addition to Phoenix, bringing not just jobs, but a continuing commitment to improved service.?
?We have a long and valued history with the Valley,? said Teresa Wahlert, Qwest vice president for Arizona. ?Because of our high call volume, and because the Valley has a highly skilled workforce, Phoenix is an excellent choice for locating a center that?s linked directly to our top priority of delivering first-class customer service.?
Phoenix will become the seventh center dedicated exclusively to customer care for the consumer market and joins existing centers located in Denver, Albuquerque, New Mexico; Des Moines, Iowa; Helena, Montana; Pocatello, Idaho; and Cheyenne, Wyoming.
Customer Service Improvements
In the second quarter of 2001, Qwest demonstrated continued service improvements in its installation, repair and out-of-service response times. No customer waited more than 30 days for the installation of their first telephone line in Iowa, Idaho, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Washington and Wyoming, as well as metro-Denver and Minneapolis-St. Paul. Since the beginning of the year, total customer complaints to state regulators have dropped 18 percent compared to the same period last year.
In Arizona, Qwest?s service data at the end of the second quarter 2001 for residential and small-business customers showed:
*Nearly 99 percent of customer installation commitments were met on time ? the best results in five years;
*Repair commitments were met nearly 95 percent of the time ? the best second quarter results in five years;
*Repeat repairs decreased by more than 19 percent from a year ago;
*Qwest repaired more than 91 percent of all service outages in Arizona in 24 hours or less ? an improvement of more than 15 percent over the same time a year ago ? the best quarterly results in six years;
*Qwest?s second quarter improvements are solid progress toward meeting goals set for the end of 2001, which include reducing delayed orders for new service and improving installation and repair results.
Since June 2000, Qwest has added 123,744 route miles of copper cable and 24,875 route miles of fiber optic cable to better serve customers, as well as 23 percent more state-of-the-art digital switch ports for more efficient handling of voice and data traffic. The company has also hired nearly 1,500 network technicians and purchased 2,291 new trucks since it acquired U S WEST in June, 2000.
Qwest?s continued improvements in customer service come one day after J.D. Power and Associates named Qwest number one in Residential Long Distance Customer Satisfaction among High Volume Users ? customers who spend more than $50 monthly. The ranking measures customer satisfaction across a number of key attributes including service, product quality and value, and marks a significant improvement in the company?s performance since last year.
?We?ve demonstrated we know what it takes to be number one in long-distance customer service,? said Afshin Mohebbi, Qwest president and COO. ?It?s the same customer commitment and performance that has produced four consecutive quarters of improved customer service results in our local service business. Our goal is to become the number one provider of local customer service in the country.?
Qwest?s success with its campaigns has created significant customer demand for value-added services ? from DSL and wireless to bundles of services ? leading to longer contact times between some residential customers and Qwest?s service representatives. To better meet this demand, Qwest is aggressively implementing a number of additional measures to improve customer response time:
*Adding more than 500 new residential customer service representative positions throughout the local service region before the end of this year;
*Opening the new customer care center in Phoenix;
*Increasing training time.
Qwest?s service improvements have extended to its wholesale customers. Overall provisioning and repair times for wholesale customers have improved significantly. Coordinated transfers of a customer from Qwest to a competitor ? referred to as coordinated cuts ? have improved to over 90 percent from about 40 percent at the time of the U S WEST acquisition. Orders that are processed electronically ? referred to as flow-through in the industry ? have increased to more than 80 percent from about 15 percent since the acquisition. Flow-through is critical to competitors because it increases the speed and efficiency of order processing. Qwest has entered into industry-first agreements with some of its biggest competitors, such as McLeodUSA and Eschelon Telecom, that help wholesale customers more efficiently serve their customers.
"We've seen a big improvement in attitude and behavior about opening its markets to competition since Qwest acquired U S WEST last year," said Richard A. Smith, president and COO of Eschelon Telecom. "Qwest has significantly improved its processes and service for wholesale customers to help give customers a choice."
Service Improvement Linked to More Long-Distance Competition
Improving customer service is an integral part of Qwest?s efforts to re-enter the long-distance business in its 14 Western states. Qwest has completed long-distance re-entry workshops in a majority of the states in its local service region. The workshops are forums in which Qwest works with competitors and state commissions to address literally thousands of issues related to the openness of Qwest's network for competitors. The company has completed 90 percent of the total workshop sessions needed for long-distance re-entry, and is awaiting commission reports from these proceedings.
Once Qwest is approved to re-enter the long-distance business, the company will be able to offer a complete bundle of services that includes long-distance, wireless, Internet, local services and the convenience of a single bill. The company has found that customers are interested in integrated and bundled service offerings.
Qwest Communications International Inc. (NYSE: Q) is a leader in reliable, scalable and secure broadband data, voice and image communications for businesses and consumers. The Qwest Macro Capacity® Fiber Network, designed with the newest optical networking equipment for speed and efficiency, spans more than 113,000 miles globally. For more information, please visit the Qwest web site at www.qwest.com.
This release may contain projections and other forward-looking statements that involve risks and uncertainties. These statements may differ materially from actual future events or results. Readers are referred to the documents filed by Qwest with the Securities and Exchange Commission, specifically the most recent reports which identify important risk factors that could cause actual results to differ from those contained in the forward-looking statements, including potential fluctuations in quarterly results, volatility of Qwest's stock price, intense competition in the communications services market, changes in demand for Qwest's products and services, dependence on new product development and acceleration of the deployment of advanced new services, such as broadband data, wireless and video services, which could require substantial expenditure of financial and other resources in excess of contemplated levels, higher than anticipated employee levels, capital expenditures and operating expenses, rapid and significant changes in technology and markets, adverse changes in the regulatory or legislative environment affecting Qwest's business and delays in Qwest's ability to provide interLATA services within its 14-state local service territory, failure to maintain rights of way, and failure to achieve the projected synergies and financial results expected to result from the acquisition of U S WEST timely or at all and difficulties in combining the operations of Qwest and U S WEST. This release may include analysts' estimates and other information prepared by third parties for which Qwest assumes no responsibility. Qwest undertakes no obligation to review or confirm analysts' expectations or estimates or to release publicly any revisions to any forward-looking statements to reflect events or circumstances after the date hereof or to reflect the occurrence of unanticipated events.
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