TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Re: Sears and K-Mart

Re: Sears and K-Mart

Robert Bonomi (
Sun, 21 Nov 2004 14:43:10 +0000

In article <>,
Stanley Cline <> wrote:

> On 19 Nov 2004 11:50:34 -0800, (Lisa Hancock)
> wrote:

>> My local carrier, Verizon, is running the same risk of becoming too
>> distant from the people it serves. Years ago they had business
>> offices in regions, several throughout a big city. Today when you
>> call them (they no longer accomodate in-person visits) your call can

> What's strange is that the lack of walk-in offices is pretty much a
> Bell/GTE-only thing; practically every phone company that is not one
> of Verizon, SBC, BellSouth, or Qwest -- *including* the very large
> multi-state independents like Sprint LTD, ALLTEL, CenturyTel, and
> Frontier -- has at least some walk-in offices. I wonder what the
> Bells are so afraid of that non-Bells aren't ...

There are two primary reasons (not necessarily in order):

1) Security, for _their_ employees. No customer presence, no risk of
an unsatisfied customer 'going postal'. With ILEC 'quality of
service', this is a _valid_ concern. <wry grin>

2) Cost. It takes nearly _twice_ the floor-space to provide a
customer- service rep with a desk *and* space for a customer to
sit, as it does to provide them _just_ the desk. Plus the
'waiting-room' space for those who are not yet talking to a rep.
Plus an additional staff person ("receptionist") to manage the
queuing before you get to the CSR. Also, space "convenient to
customers" for walk-in business is *expensive*, compared to what
one pays for 'non-customer-accessible office space in the same
vicinity. Office space somewhere 'out in the boonies' is even
_less_ expensive. In addition, there are substantial economies
derived from running one large facility, vs. _many_ small ones
that total the same square footage. Lastly, "queueing theory"
says that the larger facility will have proportionally _smaller_
variance in load than smaller facilities. This translates to an
over-all smaller staff requirement to handle the expected
variations in normal load.

Beyond that, it is a matter of 'priorities'. Is 'cutting costs' more
important than 'customer convenience', or not? Everybody comes down
on a different side of that question on various things. Look at how
few companies have a live person answering the main phone number any
more, for one example. They figure that the cost savings of the d*mn
'auto attendant' are 'worth' the increase in customer aggravation, and
wasted _customer_ time (after all *they* aren't paying for the
customer's time :).

[TELECOM Digest Editor's Note: Yet, they have the temerity to wonder
'why customers go postal' sometimes ... and your two reasons given for
why there are no more (or very few) public offices available any longer
does not explain how small independent telcos still manage to do it:
Making floor space available for chairs and the cost of rent is an
equal problem for them. And I would suppose theoretically the problem
of someone 'going postal' is also worth considering. But why do you
suppose the small, non-Bell telcos don't have those problems, and can
continue to operate their public facilities? Do you think if SBC
were to outsource all its 'customer service' functions to China or
India they would be able to get rid of all their pseudo problems with
finding good, cheap real estate? PAT]

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