Risks and Rewards at Frontier Communications: Improving Customer Service Using Client/Server Technology

Risks and Rewards at Frontier Communications: Improving Customer Service Using Client/Server Technology

Kirean Mathieson (Oakland University, USA) and Tim Toland (Frontier Communications, Inc., USA)
Copyright: © 1997 |Pages: 11
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-87828-937-7.ch011

Abstract

Frontier Communications provides a variety of telecommunications services to business customers around the United States. The telecommunications industry is fiercely competitive, with suppliers constantly seeking to improve their market share. Maintaining good relationships with business customers is very important, since they can easily change from one carrier to another and still receive the same basic communications products. Frontier considers customer service to be one of the firm’s most critical functions. Customers with questions or complaints interact with Frontier’s customer service representatives (CSRs). CSRs’ tasks vary considerably depending on the situation, but they always strive to give customers an immediate and appropriate response to their inquiries. Achieving this goal requires that CSRs have access to a wide variety of customer information. Allnet Communications, acquired by Frontier Communications in 1995, had developed a sophisticated mainframe-based system to support its CSRs. Although the system provided most of the data CSRs needed, it was not flexible enough to help them (1) get a complete picture of customers’ activities, (2) research a problem and evaluate potential solutions, and (3) identify sales opportunities. Allnet’s management information systems (MIS) group developed a graphical user interface (GUI)-based customer service workstation. Significant effort was devoted to understanding the tasks that CSRs perform, and how an improved information system could increase their effectiveness. The system was also the MIS group’s first major GUI, client/server system. This added to the risk of the project, a significant issue given the importance of the system. Allnet reduced the risk of failure by basing the new system on their existing mainframe systems rather than replacing them outright. This protected Allnet’s investment in its existing systems and took advantage of their stability, although at the cost of maintaining two separate hardware platforms. The workstation is well-regarded by CSRs, and led to measurable improvements in customer service and sales.

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