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EarthLink Releases Churn-Reducing Tool

EarthLink Network Inc. Thursday released Fast Lane, a new piece of diagnostic software it hopes will reduce subscriber turnover.

According to EarthLink, Fast Lane could help reduce the company's less than 4-percent churn rate by as much as 10 to 15 percent.

The application is designed to optimize member's connections to the Internet through the international access provider's network.

In order to increase customer satisfaction with EarthLink Internet access, the software automatically gathers connection data from individual computers. The proactive programming allows EarthLink to identify members experiencing busy signals or connection failures, and contact them with a solution.

Aggregated data from the programming also lets EarthLink monitor connection information and resolve problems within the company's local Points of Presence.

"Fast Lane will allow us to move even further toward the ultimate goal of being the model for customer service in this industry," said Jon Irwin, vice president of member support.

According to Irwin, EarthLink will "have access to a whole new set of information about members' connection experiences. We'll not only be able to use members' connection data when they call in for help, but we'll actually be able to contact them proactively and solve their dial-in problems as they occur."

Fast Lane gathers information from individual machines and automatically puts the data into members' customer care records, so it's instantly accessible to technical support representatives. If a connection problem is detected, EarthLink can single out a member's POP problem and contact that member by telephone, email or personal start page message to resolve the issue.

Fast Lane also gathers aggregate information about modem connections and call failure rates from each active EarthLink POP. The application allows EarthLink to identify real and potential problems, in order to maximize the reliability of their local dial-up numbers and reduce busy signals.

"The level of support we give our members is what sets us apart from other ISPs. Proactive support, like our Guardian Angels program, has helped us widen that gap. Keeping our members connected and productive is the number one company-wide goal, and it's what's garnered a lot of the industry recognition we've received," Irwin said.

EarthLink dial-up members using Windows 95 or 98 can download the performance monitoring application for free. Macintosh and Windows NT versions of the program are currently in development.

Once installed, the program runs unobtrusively in the background, securely uploading call success metrics every time an EarthLink member logs on to the network. The program can also be disabled at any time from a member's personal computer. EarthLink subscribers are not required to install the program as a precondition to obtaining Internet access through the ISP.

Headquartered in Pasadena, Calif., EarthLink provides international Internet access from more than 2,300 points of presence. EarthLink and Sprint Corp. have formed a broad business relationship to create a global communications company.



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