|The Directory Assistance (DA) marketplace has changed dramatically over the last several years. Traditionally, outdialed DA calls (411 or NPA.555.1212) were, by default, routed and handled by the incumbent LEC or IXC at a set tariff rate. Changes in the market have seen a “competition” between these carriers, often to the confusion of end users, and costs for DA have steadily increased while service levels have decreased.
|The last two years have seen IXC DA rates climb as high as $1.99 per call. And LEC’s have introduced two tier tariff plans from their 411 dialing codes, making it difficult for Telecom organizations to charge back end users for services. An example of this in Pennsylvania: users dialing 411 and requesting a “local” listing are charged 57¢, however if an “out of area” listing is requested the charge is 95¢. The only way to charge back an end user for these calls is through a cumbersome process matching up Call Detail Reports 60 days or more after the call has taken place.
|LEC tariffs are on the rise also. Most LEC’s have now introduced the 411 NDA at a tariff rate of 85¢ or 95¢ per call. And many are now moving their local tariff rates to these NDA rates as the PUC’s permit, to create a one price DA solution at either 85¢ or 95¢.
|In addition, many DA service providers use front-end automation, such as store and forward, on their DA calling. These services are designed to save operator time and expense, and often require the caller to spend more time on the phone than is necessary to get their call serviced.
|Corporate Telecom Solutions (CTS) has developed a service that provides a one price solution for DA. To achieve this, we provide clients with an 800 number, which is programmed into the client’s switch to route any dialed 411 or NPA.555.1212 calls to our Operator Service Centers. The client handles the programming of the switch and using 10 digit Automatic Route Selection (ARS) completes the programming for these calls. The change is transparent to the end user; there is no change to dialing patterns, and the switch handles the transfer of the call.
|As the call leaves the switch, we handle the transport and servicing of the call. The call is routed, via the 800 number, to an Operator Service Center for servicing. All network components are set up with “failover”, so if there is a problem with one service provider the call automatically routes to a backup. CTS takes care of all the transport contract administration and assignment.
|As the call enters the Operator Service Center, it is answered by a live Operator; we do not allow the front-end mechanized services that are more for the convenience of operator centers than callers. The caller is queried with “For what city and state, please?”; “What listing, please?” The operator retrieves that listing, if found, and sends to audio announcement for the caller to hear.
|At the request of all clients, we have blocked Call Completion services. We have found this to be a costly and unnecessary add-on to DA expenses. Not only is the caller charged for the service, but the call is also completed and charged at the highest applicable outdialed Operator Assisted rate for the time of day.
|To achieve a high level of service, we use only Telephone Company Operator Service providers for handling our calls. These are highly qualified centers that have been in the Operator Services business for many years. We constantly monitor our providers to make sure they adhere to high standards for the industry. In addition, over 90% of our database is sourced from and updated daily by Telephone Company Data.
|To learn how you can save more on your outdialed DA requirements, call George Young at 215.793.4880 or visit our website at www.corporatetel.com.