Ameritech

  • Category: Business
  • Words: 3951
  • Grade: 100
Ameritech help customers and firms to realize their communications' full potential, whether they are directed across the street or around the world. In addition, it is something that they have been doing for over 100 years. Their success depends on people. That is why their team of 66,000 employees is more than just technically qualified. They bring energy and insight into every task that they undertake, whether it is routing a line to facilities or installing new service. No matter what immediate telecommunication needs may be, it can count on dedicated professionals to work with customers to find the solutions that are right for them. Ameritech offer a range of leading-edge communication products and services, including voice, data, videoconferencing and more. Many Ameritech customers trust them because they have experienced the reliability of network offers with over 1,289,000 fiber-optic strand miles and state of the art switching centers.

MISSION



Their mission is to provide their clients with the most technically communication, computer sound and executive consultants throughout the United States. Ensuring a focus on unparalleled customer service, offering talented individuals at competitive rates within the industry.


EXECUTIVE SUMMARY


        In Today's society there are many companies that are expanding to handle the necessities that people want and need. Ameritech has been one of the elite ones who is currently handling the Midwest. Since the Ameritech merger with SBC, they have become a presence in the top 20 U.S. markets, providing a competitive mix of local, wireless, Internet and high-speed data services to millions of customers.
        As SBC (Ameritech) continues to grow they are continually having significant problems, which they need to address. One of the current issues that SBC is currently facing is their court case in regards to if they are a monopoly. Their second issue is that they have many customers who are complaining because their installation or repairs are taking exuberant amount of time. In additions, many customers are complaining about their high prices and the automated service line that takes to long to get through. They also are facing major setbacks because of their increases in the number of are codes in a given area, which to prevent that they are requesting to change the ten-digit cumbers to eleven. The solicitations of the people who obtain service from them are having their numbers distributed on a list. Finally the local phone book or the directory assistance still lists the old numbers and customers are receiving unwanted calls. These issues have caused Ameritech to lose a significant amount of money and are making it necessary to be addressed. If SBC chooses not to take the proper measurements in resolving these problems and issues they are taking a chance of loosing a lot of customers to competitors and to cellular phones. In today's' society there are many other options for consumers to think about instead of having to tolerate such customer service.
INTRODUCTION


Before it was acquired by SBC Communications in a $62 billion deal in 1999, Ameritech provided local telephone service to more than 12 million customers in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, and Wisconsin. The company also had more than 3.6 million US cellular customers and offered Internet access, paging, cable TV, and home security services (through SecurityLink). Outside the US, Ameritech owned a 20% stake in Bell Canada and had telecom holdings in Belgium, Denmark, Hungary, and Norway. Ameritech, which was based in Chicago, last reported revenues of $17.2 billion in 1998. (Hoovers)
Since the merger it seems that SBC is doing a great job taking over the market from Ameritech. Sales are higher and SBC are covering markets and areas that were not known before. Even though they have their hands in different things there is so much more that then can accomplish. With the growing markets and many changes SBC can go to new heights in the computer industry, paging market and much more.
From 1878 to the 1920s the Bell System consolidated small phone companies into bigger companies that built long-distance lines to other Bell exchanges. These lines became AT&T Long Lines; local operations were retained by the Bell companies. A century later, in 1983, Ma Bell was under attack. That year Ameritech (short for American Information Technologies) became the first US firm to offer commercial cellular service and the first Baby Bell to trade on the New York Stock Exchange. With the 1984 break-up of AT&T, Ameritech received five of AT&T's 22 phone companies and a share in Bellcore, the R&D arm shared by the Baby Bells. (Hoovers)
Because of the changing market and the breakup of AT&T Ameritech was able to gain more companies and to almost take over the market. That was the best thing to happen to Ameritech in order for them to have made such a successful and global company.
Ameritech never looked back. In 1984, it became the first US firm to place fiber optics into service. The first to lease its broadband network to a cable TV company, and the first (with sibling NYNEX) to use long-distance circuits from AT&T's competitors (including rival MCI, now MCI WorldCom) for its corporate customers. Through the next decade, Ameritech ventured from the Midwest. It bought an interest in New Zealand's public phone system in 1990 (sold in 1998) and joined France Telecom and the Polish government in 1991 to build a cellular network in Poland (sold in 1996). Investments included 15% of MATAV, Hungary's phone company (1993), and stakes in Belgium's telecom company, Belgacom (1997), Denmark's Tele Danmark (1998), and Bell Canada, a unit of BCE (1999). (Hoovers)
In 1992 retiring CEO William Weiss held a fateful meeting and asked top executives to profile the Ameritech they envisioned in 1995. Only four who shared Weiss' enthusiasm for radical corporate change (including Dick Notebaert, who succeeded Weiss as CEO in 1994) joined him in planning the company's future. On a new path to diversification, Ameritech entered the home security business by buying small SecurityLink in 1994, then the bigger National Guardian in 1995. Although the Bells were banned from the security business for five years under the Telecommunications Act of 1996, a grandfather clause exempted Ameritech. Taking full advantage, it acquired the assets of nine companies by 1998, including Circuit City's alarm systems unit (1996) and Republic Industries' security division (1997). (Hoovers)
In 1997 the Baby Bells, preparing to compete, sold Bellcore. Still, to shield their cash-cow Yellow Pages operations from online competition, Ameritech and three other Bells teamed up to offer a directory through Yahoo! Ameritech also sought clearance to enter the long-distance market and launched its Internet access service. The Telecom Act prevented Bells from offering long-distance service in their own territory until they had strong local phone competitors. In 1998 Ameritech tried to outmaneuver the Act by marketing the long-distance services of Qwest for a per-customer finder's fee, but the FCC rejected the plan. In 1999 Texas-based Baby Bell SBC bought the company in a $62 billion deal. To allay regulators' concerns, Ameritech sold its interests in 20 cellular properties -- almost half of its wireless phone business -- to a venture of GTE and minority-owned investment firm Georgetown Partners. (Hoovers)
Problems
        
SBC is faced with many problems that can easily be resolved. One major problem is the consumers may have to dial 11 digits to make a phone call instead of 10. What difference does it make now because usually when making a call now you still have to dial 11 digits which includes the 1 before you can make the call. I feel that the consumers are making a big deal out of nothing. Questions arise, "Why do they need new area codes? In addition, the answer is quite simple; the telecommunications industry is running out of telephone numbers is the existing area codes. The opening of local telephone markets to competition combined with the rapid growing request for numbers for telephones, pagers, fax machines, cellular phones, PCS, modems an other services rapidly chips away at the existing supply of phone numbers. In some areas the need for new numbers is so great that state regulatory commissions and the telecommunications industry have determined that the best solution is to add the new are codes. Which would require everyone to dial 11 digits instead of 10.
        Why is Ameritech trying to monopolize the market? Simple, if they have control of the entire local telephone service; everyone would not have a choice, but to put up with their broken promises of better repair service and faster installation. Because, there is no where else for the customers to go, if they had a choice they may leave Ameritech and find other options. In February 1996, Congress passed the 1996 Telecommunications Act with the intent of establishing a competitive market in local phone service. Looking back after five years, there are major concerns that the law is not meeting its goal, and that we are witnessing a re-monopolization of our telephone system. In 1996, there were eight principal suppliers of local phone service - the seven regional bell companies created under the breakup of AT&T in 1982, plus GTE. Today there only four major companies, as Verizon was formed by a merger of Bell Atlantic, NYNEX and GTE, and SBC was formed as a combination of Southwestern Bell, Pac-Tel and Ameritech. We can expect further mergers of the regional bells, not more competition as promised by the act. For those of us who are aware that the market process will produce better services at lower prices than the political process can, this is not automatically a problem - particularly if this recombination were occurring because the merged companies can produce a superior product at lower prices. But this is not the case. This re-monopolization is occurring because the regional bells, such as SBC/Ameritech in Michigan, have maintained the monopoly control of the infrastructure used to deliver local phone service that was granted to them by the government. This has allowed the regional bells to erect effective barriers to entry into the local phone market, and they are using these barriers to limit the ability of competitors to offer competitive telecommunications services. The 1996 act attempted to break down the barriers to local phone service by barring the regional bell companies from entering the long-distance market until they allowed competitors access to the infrastructure at reasonable prices. The idea was that the regional bells would be willing to give up their monopoly over local telephone services in order to be able to enter the long-distance market. (Freepublic)
What happened was quite different. The regional bell companies have maintained control over their infrastructure while attempting to persuade the Federal Communications Commission that they are meeting the technical requirements of Section 271. The regional bells have blocked access to the local loop infrastructure through legal and technical means. As examples, Michigan's Public Service Commission fined SBC/Ameritech $3.75 million for the company's failure to provide access to MCI WorldCom, and in December 2000, a federal jury in San Francisco ruled Pacific Bell had sabotaged competitors efforts to enter the local phone market by refusing to fix problems in its system for transferring customer's lines to competitors. (Freepublic)
The problem of monopolization of local phone service is evidenced here in Michigan by the well-publicized service difficulties Ameritech customers have been having. The Michigan Public Service Commission reported "the number of complaints has risen to a level that has overwhelmed the Commission Staff assigned to respond to these complaints." The same thing is happening in other former Ameritech states. Consumer complaints in Ohio rose to such an extent that the state had to charge SBC/Ameritech for the costs of overtime paid to state employees to handle the large volume. (Freepublic)        Another SBC is faced with is customers complaining about how slow the service is when calling for repairs or installation. Yes it is very annoying to call Ameritech with a problem and have to go through this long automated service of pushing button after button and still not being able to talk with a live customer representative. It is also frustrating when they promise to have telephone service installed in our homes on a certain day just to find that no one has come for the installation that day. There should be a low preventing them from giving us false sense of hopes. Is there anything we can do? Ameritech said its rate of repairs would not be back to normal until March, even as it adds hundreds of workers and spends millions on its telephone network. In its filing with the commission, Ameritech, largest Phone Company with 5.6 million lines, blamed the delays on:
· A loss of 10 percent -- 842 employees -- of its Michigan workforce in 1999.
· A tight labor market that makes it hard to fill vacancies.
· Increased demand for additional phone lines for computers, fax machines and children's lines.
· Heavy rain and storms that knock out service and prevent technicians from making repairs.
The company's report said the monthly average rate for repairs went from 31 hours and 31 minutes in February to 115 hours as of August.
The number of complaints filed with the commission about Ameritech's repair service each month went from 39 in February to 308 in June, 254 in July and 778 in August. Customers complained not only about the month long waits to restore service, but also about the lack of information they received about the delays.
"Ameritech Michigan is painfully aware that its current repair speed intervals are not acceptable," the company's filing said. (Freep)
        SBC prices for the telephone service are also extremely high. Their features are nice and they also claim to have package deals but in the end are we really saving money or just adding cost to our bills with features that we may never use or need. They offer us features like automated call back, which allows us to call the last person who called us, which is not necessary if you have caller id, which allows us to see the name and number of the person who just called, so now you have two features, which do the same thing. They also offer Call screening which allows certain phone numbers not to pass through on your line, which is also a waste if you have caller id. One good feature, if you have many people in the house is the muli ring, which allows the telephone to ring in different ways. To notify the receivers who the call is for without having to answer, but is that needed. We have lived many many years without this convenience and I'm sure we can live many more without it. Customers also don't realize that Ameritech voice mail is another way for Ameritech to make money because when you receive a call when your not at home the voice mail picks up the call and transfers it to the main voice mail center and you are getting charged for an incoming call, then when you call to check your voice messages you are again charged for that call.
        Ameritech also needs to update their files. Customers who do not want their numbers listed are being listed and vice versa. Some of the phone numbers in the directory are out dated and belong to the previous person who used this numbers, which results in having unnecessary calls to the new user. Many times I have called for a phone number to find the number disconnected or just the wrong number in general.
COMPETITORS
        
Today there are many other companies we can go to for home telephone service that could put Ameritech on their toes. The newest home service telephone companies are Suretel Communications which offers consumers home telephone service which is not pre pay but they do not do any credit checks which allows customers to build their credit and also lower prices for phone service, there is also MTI, Smoke Signals Communications, and AT&T which also offer lower cost for services and the same features that Ameritech offer. It is always good to have a choice, which Ameritech was trying to take that choice away from you by monopolize the market. As if it wasn't tough enough figuring out what long distance service to choose, sooner or later Illinois residents will have to decide on the local phone service they want. Competitors in Chicago and elsewhere are starting to nibble away at the Ameritech, offering phone service in some locations at a discount along with cheaper long distance, Internet access and cable TV. Ameritech still maintains a near monopoly on local telephone service for residents--the company says it has 92 percent of the residential market. However, that is about twice as much competition as the average for the nation. (Suntimes)
One main company is Smoke Signals. Their mission is to be the leading provider of profitable, quality telecommunications services offered through a nationwide partnership of pay agents. The innovative leaders for transaction processes of products and services that touch their customers' lives. Choctaw Communications, Inc. (a VarTec Telecom, Inc. subsidiary), d.b.a. Smoke Signal Communications, was founded in 1996, in Houston, Texas, as a Competitive Local Exchange Carrier (CLEC). By 1999, Choctaw had become one of the fastest-growing resellers of prepaid local dial tone in the United States. Choctaw's customer base now extends into several states. Choctaw is actively pursuing licensing and resale agreements in all 50 states. Choctaw has aggressively advertised its services in broadcast and print media. Building an unparalleled customer-focused call center using the most advanced automated system of customer information also has been a major factor in Choctaw's growth. 2000, Choctaw plans to continue its expansion into new states to become a nationwide provider of communication services.
Smoke Signal offers its Customers:
· No Credit Check, No ID, No Deposit. Phone Service is Guaranteed
· Competitive Pricing
· No Hidden Fees
· Highest ratio of customer service personnel to customer base in the industry! Our Call Center accommodates 500 service representatives, with an average hold time to Call Center being less than five minutes
· Customers are awarded 30 minutes of free domestic long distance each month if prepayment is made by Customer's due date.
· Convenient Calling Options: Caller ID; Call Waiting; Call Forwarding
· Prepayment Invoicing on a monthly billing cycle
· Competitive Long Distance rates
· Licensed and regulated by the Public Utility Commission of each state in which we operate (Smoke Signal)
With this type of competition, Ameritech needs to improve their service or get ready to share the market.
Recommendations & Conclusion


Well anyone can easily take a company, pick it apart, and tell us what is wrong with the way the company is producing. What can you do to fix those problems you see?
        The fist problem is regarding the monopoly. Ameritech is no longer doing a monopoly because right now there is many companies who are given communication services and their service are not good as Ameritech because they are not recognize and customers are afraid to change their service. "Why do we have so many satisfied customers" (www.ebs.ameritech.com). Many customers if they have any problem they know who to call and they are not afraid to give their information. Ameritech provides a full range of communications services; serving millions of customers is 50 states and 40 countries. Ameritech is one of the world's 100 largest companies, with 73,000 employees. Customers are more comfortable when they know all this information and they prefer to stay with the same company. Customers can compare prices, services, and guarantee with other companies and chose the best for them.
        The second problem being customer satisfaction. Customers need to feel a reason to use Ameritech services. Why would they pick Ameritech over anyone else? Customers pick Ameritech service because they know that if they have any problem the company is going to give warranty. For example, Troubleshooting when customer have a problem with their phone, the first step is to determine where the problem is located: in the wiring inside their house, the outside wiring or in their phone set. Ameritech customer service give several easy tests that the customer can perform, since they can be charged for repairs, doing so may save customers money well as time. If the customers determined the problem is with the outside wiring, the service team will respond promptly to calls for repairs to wiring or equipment, at not cost. If the customer determined that the problem is with inside wiring, they can call Ameritech to make the repairs. If the customers are subscribe to LineBacker or Multline-Backer maintenance plans, Ameritech will repair customer jack or inside wiring at no charge. If the customer is not subscribing, they will be charged for labor and materials. Customer service is very important for Ameritech. They want to give a good service and some times they prefer to take their time doing it and not do a lot of service in one day because customers are not going to be satisfied with the results. Ameritech should give the fist service free because they can promote a good customer service and can retain more customers, because customer can wait few days to have their service if they know that they are not going to pay.
        The third problem addressed was the high prices and the automated service line. In the past, there have been problems with the Ameritech billing system not being kept up to date to reflex the newest information in the LERG. Ameritech agents sometimes misinform callers, telling them that call service by CLECs (Competitive Local Exchange Carriers) are long distance because they are not service by Ameritech. Ameritech is working to resolve this issue. In addition, they are working to have them update the database at their web site to include all prefixes serviced by CLECs. If the distance between origination point and the destination of a call is 5 miles or less, the call should be billed as local call. Ameritech has a different package that best meet customers' needs. The automated service give a customer access to chose the information that they need with out taking with a person. However, if they need to talk to someone they can wait in the line and the available representative can help them. Customers are not comfortable taking with a machine they prefer to talk to a person. Ameritech can hire more employees to help customers because if not they are going to lose many customers and change their automatic service. Ameritech should have a first option to talk any representative and then the billing option, customer service, etc"¦



BEST SOLUTION

Our best solution for Ameritech is to gain and regain customer satisfaction and customer service. Ameritech is losing money for no other reason, and then customers are not happy with high prices and services. Ameritech needs to find some way to make the customers think that they should stay with Ameritech or give Ameritech a second change. In addition, Ameritech should extend their hours and give a faster service.


















WORKS CITED

http://www.suntimes.com/output/business/phone21.html
http://www.smokesignal-clec.com/
http://www.freep.com/money/business/psc1_20000901.htm
http://www.freerepublic.com/forum/a3a8c363e52f3.htm
http://www.ebs.ameritech.com/selfservice/overview.html
http://www.letus.org/rbl/prob_g_ameritech.html




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