As technology zooms along, customer service still main focus

Published 12:00 am Monday, December 4, 2000

Managers at the three wireless phone service companies in Natchez agree that technology is moving at lightning speed in the wireless field.

Still, all three companies stress customer service as one of their top priorities.

&uot;We’re a Mississippi-based company, locally owned by the Creekmore family of Meadville,&uot; said Jerry Roberts, market manager of Cellular South.

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&uot;I push customer service. That’s our niche,&uot; he said.

Roberts said the goal of Cellular South is to become a more regional company, encompassing more of the area now surrounding the home area of all of Mississippi.

&uot;We’ve already bought into parts of Alabama and Florida and in Tennessee at Memphis,&uot; he said.

&uot;I’d like to see us get into Louisiana.&uot;

Cellular South has promotions under way until near the end of the year including waiving of the activation fee, which usually is $20, for new customers; and big discounts on equipment.

At Centennial, too, discounts on equipment and some holiday promotions in service plans are taking place.

Still, the company tries to provide the best customer service as one of their priorities, said Yolanda Thompson, personal communications specialist at Centennial.

A big promotion now is the OneFone plan, advocating the wireless phone as the only phone, at home and on the go, store manager Bill Pollard said.

BellSouth Mobility recently has promoted widely its minutes rollover plan, allowing customers to move unused minutes from one month to the next.

The rollover offer is not available with all BellSouth plans but has been a big item for customers, said Jennifer Smith, sales and service manager.

BellSouth and Southwestern Bell soon will form Cingular Wireless and become the second largest wireless provider in the country, Smith said.

That, she said, offers big opportunities for Natchez consumers.

E-mail capability is one of the hottest new items for wireless phone users.

At Cellular South, the Email-to-go service operates on Nokia, Motorola and Ericsson phones.

Users may send and receive text messages within the Mississippi Cellular South network, said Roberts.

A promotional rate of $4.95 a month for e-mail is in effect now.

At Centennial, the e-mail option is on the way but not yet available, manager Pollard said.

BellSouth offers e-mail with prices based on number of messages received. Rates are $3.99 a month for 100 messages; $6.99 for 500 messages; and $9.99 for 1,000 messages.

All three companies offer generous packages for unlimited night and weekend calls.

Generally these are packages that can be added to another pre-existing service and they are about $10 a month at Cellular South and BellSouth and, at Centennial, 7 cents a minute plus $2.49 per month for the first three months and $4.95 a month thereafter.

Times designated in the night and weekend packages vary slightly from one company to the other.