AT&T 800 Service - Case Study

Highlights of Results

30-Minute Service Assurance 0 Minutes Proactive Maintenance 5 Minutes
Best in Business
Analysts projected 20% Market Share Loss
1% Churn - Most Profitable in Industry


Performance Improvement Project

Some changes can’t be anticipated.  The introduction of a single new element to a market can necessitate anything from a small organizational adjustment to the complete strategic refocusing of a corporation.

In 1993, one new element became prominent in the business telecommunications marketplace.  It was “portability” -- and it meant that for the first time, consumers of 800-number services could switch to another provider without changing their 800 number.  This one change provoked what was commonly called “The Marketing War of the Century” between AT&T, Sprint, and MCI.

AT&T, in particular, faced the prospect of losing millions of dollars of business overnight.  They launched many new initiatives and accelerated others in an effort to prevent the losses.  The results were not positive:  AT&T became occupied with so many efforts that the staff was stretched and stressed beyond their capacity.  AT&T simply did not know how to locate the key areas to focus on that would enable them to win.

Tor Dahl and Associates entered the picture with a process that would provide AT&T with the means to ensure that they would be doing the right things in the right way, and would enable them to reach a competitive breakthrough.

Tor Dahl and Associates gathered information from diverse AT&T business units such as Bell Labs, Maintenance and Reliability, Marketing and Sales, and Billing, among others.  Key customers and major stakeholders, such as American Express and Exxon, were called upon to give their input.  By the fourth month of the process, during “boot camp,” all major opportunities to ensure customer retention and growth had been weighted and documented.

Through the use of Tor Dahl and Associates’ proven tools and methodology, AT&T uncovered the secrets to providing seamless service and a true monopoly advantage.  The breakthrough appeared on a double-page ad in The Wall Street Journal within 8 weeks.

AT&T had provided service assurance at the start of the project at a level of 30 minutes.  Now they were able to offer service at the 5-minute level. Three months after the boot camp, the service assurance level was 2½ minutes, and AT&T was developing a plan for proactive maintenance and a new systems platform which would eliminate the need for service within 2 years.  Marilyn Chiang of Bell Labs was closely involved in the design and development of this key competitive breakthrough.

Soon, AT&T was winning “The Marketing War of the Century.”  Rather than losing the projected up-to-20% of their market share, AT&T was able to retain virtually all of their market share, losing a mere 1% in the market churn.  The key to retaining and growing market share was theirs.