SIOUX FALLS, S.D., January 23, 2002 - Qwest Communications International Inc. (NYSE:Q), the broadband communications company, today announced strong customer service improvements in South Dakota and throughout its 14 Western states in 2001 in key areas of installation and repair for residential and small-business customers. These results mark the second consecutive year that Qwest has improved customer service and follow a report by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) that found that Qwest leads the industry in service quality.
"Thanks to the hard work and commitment of thousands of Qwest employees, we did what we said we were going to do 18 months ago by making improvements in the key areas of installation and repair that are most important to our customers," said Afshin Mohebbi, Qwest president and chief operating officer. "We still have work to do but these results and the FCC's recognition underscore our commitment to providing our customers the best service in the industry."
In South Dakota, service data for 2001 showed the best results in seven years in key areas for residential and small-business customers:
- Nearly 99 percent of customer installation commitments were met on time - the best annual results in six years;
- Repair commitments were met 96 percent of the time;
- Repeat repairs decreased by 21 percent from a year ago;
- Qwest repaired nearly 91 percent of all service outages in South Dakota in 24 hours or less - an improvement of nearly 11 percent over the same time a year ago - the best annual results in seven years;
- Complaints to the South Dakota Public Utilities Commission decreased by more than 10 percent over the previous year;
- At the end of December 2001, no customer in South Dakota waited more than 30 days for the installation of the first telephone line.
In 2002, Qwest will be focused on expanding its service improvement initiatives beyond installation and repair to include every aspect of how the company interacts with its customers. Qwest is responding to recent customer service concerns in areas that include sales, wireless and privacy.
"Our top priority in 2002 is to make improvements in meeting customer expectations when they order a service, request repairs or have questions about their bill," said Mohebbi. "When we talk about service improvements moving forward that's going to be our focus."
Recently, the FCC recognized Qwest's dramatic customer service improvements. In December 2001, the FCC issued its "Quality of Service of the Local Operating Companies" report, which showed that Qwest was first among the major local service providers in four of the seven critical customer service categories measured by the FCC and that Qwest improved in six of the seven.
The FCC's data showed Qwest was first in:
- Residential installation intervals - installing service in an average of one day;
- Residential repair satisfaction. Qwest was the only company to show an improvement over the previous year;
- Initial trouble reports per thousand lines, with the fewest in the industry. Qwest showed the most dramatic improvement over the previous year;
- Out-of-service repair intervals among the Regional Bell Operating Companies. Qwest showed the most dramatic improvement over the previous year. Qwest completed out-of-service repairs, on average, in half the time of others in the survey.
The report also showed:
- Qwest had the second-highest percentage of satisfied customers on residential installation, and was one of only two companies that did not experience a dramatic decrease in customer satisfaction;
- Qwest was tied for second in the percentage of installation commitments met on time;
- While every other company surveyed showed an increase in the number of residential and business complaints per million access lines, Qwest showed a dramatic - nearly 50 percent - improvement.
"We feel very strongly that we're delivering the best service in the industry today and we're determined to stay there," said Mohebbi.
In July 2001, 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.
Improving customer service is an integral part of Qwest's efforts to re-enter the long-distance business in its 14 Western states. Qwest's long-distance re-entry will save customers in South Dakota more than $16 million annually, or an average of up to $88 per residential customer, according to a study by Professor Jerry A. Hausman, director of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Telecommunications Economics Research Program. After Qwest is approved to re-enter the long-distance business, the company will be able to provide customers with a real competitive choice for long-distance service, as well as offer bundled services and the convenience of a single bill.
The company is making significant progress toward receiving federal approval to re-enter the long-distance market. On December 21, 2001 Qwest completed a critical and comprehensive systems test in Arizona. Qwest is also nearing completion of a systems test covering 13 other local service states. Qwest expects to offer long-distance services in its 14 states by mid-2002.
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(r) Fiber Network, designed with the newest optical networking equipment for speed and efficiency, spans more than 190,000 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 Communications International Inc. (together with its affiliates, "Qwest", "we" or "us") 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 but not limited to: potential fluctuations in quarterly results; volatility of Qwest's stock price; intense competition in the markets in which we compete; changes in demand for our products and services; the duration and extent of the current economic downturn, including its effect on our customers and suppliers; adverse economic conditions in the markets served by us or by companies in which we have substantial investments; 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 our business, delays in our ability to provide interLATA services within our 14-state local service area; 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, and difficulties in combining the operations of the combined company. This release may include analysts' estimates and other information prepared by third parties for which we assume no responsibility. We undertake 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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