Tele-Media Corp. is using the personal touch to ring up business for its Internet-protocol-fueled telephone applications in Petersburg, Va.
Since Feb. 1, Tele-Media has marketed voice-over-IP applications in Petersburg, where it has about 17,000 cable customers.
Developed by vendor Gemini Voice Solutions Inc., two services are for sale: long-distance and international calling packaged in 500-, 750- and 1,500-minute increments; and second-line transmission, with voice mail, caller ID and other features.
Both services are currently available to 1,000 Petersburg cable customers who already take high-speed Internet access.
For those subscribers to receive IP telephony, they must attach a Gemini-provided device to the back of their cable modem.
Knocking on doors
Customer-service and telemarketing officials in Petersburg and from Tele-Media's Pleasant Gap, Pa., headquarters are alerting current high-speed-access users about the voice options, then following up with door-to-door visits.
New data customers get a voice demonstration as part of the modem installation.
"First of all, you're in a competitive market with the long-distance and local service providers," Tele-Media vice president of information technology Steve Koval said. "Second, you're bringing these services to a limited audience, on top of digital and data subscriptions. And internally, you have to educate everyone from the CSRs to technicians to speak a new lingo and have them sell it."
Marketers are targeting a specific audience: heavy long-distance users and households with kids that want their own phone lines.
Petersburg data customers that buy the long-distance service pay $19.95 for a 500-minute bundle, $29.95 for 750 minutes or $44.95 for 1,500 minutes.
Tele-Media charges $18 per month for a second-line option.
Customers that order high-speed-data and VoIP services get a 50-percent discount on IP rates for the first three months, plus a free modem installation.
Koval estimated the long-distance package costs 60 percent less than what rivals charge.
Gemini staffers monitored the customer-service representative and telemarketer training process in Petersburg and will schedule one or two more sessions with CSRs to follow up.
Tele-Media has more than 250,000 customers in nine states. Gemini also worked with overbuilder WideOpenWest on an IP-voice launch.
Tele-Media plans a second IP rollout in Hopewell, Va., near Petersburg — targeting 5,000 subscribers — this summer.