Southwestern Bell Unveils Competitive Strategy
Pledges Code of Conduct, Breaks Ranks With Other Telecommunications Companies to Win Customers
St. Louis, Missouri, May 7, 1997
A commitment to halt telemarketing calls during dinnertime is the signature pledge of a major customer-friendly strategy Southwestern Bell unveiled today to position itself for increasing competition and its future long-distance offering.
The strategy has two primary components: a formal commitment by all Southwestern Bell employees regarding customer service, and refocused communications that are a significant departure from the gimmicks, confusing rate plans, and Hollywood celebrities currently used by many other telecommunications companies.
As part of the new strategy, Southwestern Bell has made significant operational changes and invested in extensive employee training.
It also will launch tomorrow a five-state, multi-million dollar advertising campaign, titled "Friendly Neighborhood Global," to communicate this new strategy to consumers. The campaign is the single largest ad campaign in the company's history.
"Today, we are committing to a code of conduct that builds on
and enhances the qualities that our customers have come to know and trust about
Southwestern Bell," said Cliff Eason, president and chief executive officer,
Southwestern Bell Telephone Co.
"We are locally operated in the markets we serve, we genuinely care about our customers and we can deliver the most advanced telecommunications products and services locally, regionally, nationally and globally," he said. "Customers have told us that the new era of telecommunications demands a new level of customer respect and responsiveness, and we are pledging to raise the bar for the entire industry."
Southwestern Bell is pledging to uphold 12 customer-focused promises, including no sales calls during dinnertime, refusing to sell customer information to mailing houses, investing in its local communities and producing straightforward advertising, without confusing rate plans and celebrity pitchmen. (See attached list.)
"A family's supper hour should be respected," Eason said. "It's a special time when families wish to be together and not be disturbed by telemarketers. We'll honor this and make no sales calls during dinner. Period."
A recent consumer survey supports the company's no-nonsense, straightforward advertising strategy, Eason added
"A large percentage of our customers are fed-up with gimmicks, rates du jour, fine print and disclaimers in telecommunications ads and commercials today," Eason said. "With Southwestern Bell, our customers will never need to turn in a list of anyone or anything to qualify for great service at great value."
These pledges "reflect our beliefs about our customers' rights to courtesy, fair treatment, quality service, excellent value and the protection of their privacy," Eason said.
Additionally, Eason said Southwestern Bell pledges to continue being a good neighbor and corporate citizen in the regions it serves, just as it has done throughout its long history, especially during crises such as floods, tornadoes, hurricanes and other disasters affecting its customers. Southwestern Bell's heritage dates to 1878.
Southwestern Bell (www.swbell.com) is a leading brand of SBC Communications Inc., an international leader in the telecommunications industry, with more than 31 million access lines and 4.7 million U.S. wireless customers, as well as investments in telecommunications businesses in eight foreign countries. Under the Southwestern Bell, Pacific Bell, Nevada Bell and Cellular One brands, the company, through its subsidiaries, offers local and long-distance telephone service, wireless communications, paging, Internet access, cable TV and messaging, as well as telecommunications equipment, and directory advertising and publishing. SBC (www.sbc.com) has approximately 110,000 employees. SBC and Pacific Telesis Group reported combined 1996 revenues of $23.5 billion.
Southwestern Bell's Pledge To The People of Missouri, Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas and Arkansas
We promise to be your friendly neighborhood global communications company.
We will never, ever bug you with sales calls during dinner.
You will have a number. But, you will not be treated like one.
We will not ask you for lists of friends, family, business associates or pets. In fact, you will not need to know a single living creature to get a fair rate here.
We will offer cutting-edge technology.
We will never try to trick you into signing up for anything.
We are a local company. When you do business with us, you're supporting the local economy. Simple as that.
If you call us for a repair, we will be here. Every minute of every hour of every day.
Our advertising will be clear and simple. You will find no deceitful gimmickry. No scams.
We respect your privacy. We won't sell your name to mailing list houses for any amount.
We will only offer products and services that people actually want.
Neither hurricane nor tornado nor flood will prevent us from helping the community in difficult times. After all, we live here too.
Our name is Southwestern Bell. Your friendly neighborhood
global communications company. Thanks for your time.
Consumers Frustrated With Telecommunications Marketing Madness; Want Respect, Good Service, Simple Rates
Southwestern Bell Poll Shows Many Prefer Dentist Visits Over Dinnertime
St. Louis, Missouri, May 7, 1997
Most consumers say there is a significant gap between what they expect when doing business with telecommunications companies and what they're actually receiving -- and see little hope for future change.
A new poll by Southwestern Bell shows that, on average, more than 75 percent of consumers in the region say respectful treatment, good customer service and rates, and easy-to-understand rate plans are "very" to "extremely" important to them, yet less than one-third give telecommunications companies high ratings for their performance.
Moreover, 60 percent of area consumers believe sweeping industry changes as the result of the passage of telecommunications reform legislation last year will make no difference to them as consumers of telecommunications products and services.
Findings from this telephone survey of over 1,000 randomly selected households in Texas, Oklahoma, Missouri, Arkansas and Kansas support a major new business strategy Southwestern Bell announced today, which features formal pledges for how the company will operate and serve customers as well as new advertising that delivers information in a straightforward manner without gimmicks and fast-talk.
The survey shows consumers are especially frustrated with telecommunications advertising that sounds all the same (79 percent), is misleading (62 percent) and is annoying (61 percent). Additionally, many consumers (68 percent) said the number of sales pitches and contacts they received are "too much."
Most offensive are long-distance telemarketing calls during dinner: nearly 45 percent say they would rather do something unpleasant than answer the phone, including 14 percent who would prefer a visit to the dentist and 6 percent who would rather get a parking ticket.
"When it comes to telecommunications companies' marketing tactics, consumers are fed up and don't want to take it anymore," said Cliff Eason, president and chief executive of Southwestern Bell Telephone Co. "These findings underscore the need for telecommunications companies to show their customers more respect."
More than 80 percent of area consumers want telecommunications companies to respect their privacy, and see companies as disrespectful when they call during dinner (49 percent) and use personal information to sell them products and services they don't want (32 percent).
In addition to respectful treatment, consumers also want customer service representatives who will listen to and fix their problems (76 percent), good rates without gimmicks (73 percent) and simple rate plans (72 percent).
Southwestern Bell (www.swbell.com) is a leading brand of SBC Communications Inc., an international leader in telecommunications, with over 31 million access lines and 4.7 million U.S. wireless customers, as well as investments in telecommunications businesses in eight foreign countries. Under the Southwestern Bell, Pacific Bell, Nevada Bell and Cellular One brands, the company, through its subsidiaries, offers local and long-distance telephone service, wireless communications, paging, Internet access, cable TV and messaging, as well as telecommunications equipment, and directory advertising and publishing. SBC (www.sbc.com) has approximately 110,000 employees. SBC and Pacific Telesis Group reported combined 1996 revenues of $23.5 billion.