YOU ARE AT:Archived ArticlesINFONXX TARGETS CELLULAR USERS WITH LIVE DIRECTORY ASSISTANCE

INFONXX TARGETS CELLULAR USERS WITH LIVE DIRECTORY ASSISTANCE

Wireless users are the perfect customers for directory assistance service because they often are separated from written lists when they need a phone number, said InfoNXX, a provider of directory assistance service.

Landline customers commonly can choose whether to use a telephone directory or a printed source to get phone numbers they need.

“But there aren’t many options when you’re in your car and need a number,” said Robert Pines, chief executive officer of the Easton, Pa., firm. “This is a more critical service for those people and an opportunity to really help these customers.”

InfoNXX told RCR it is about to announce a contract with a significant wireless operator. The company currently has about 500 operators in three sites: Easton and Waterbury, Conn., and Riverside, Calif. It offers service in San Francisco and Cincinnati through contracts with the wireless operator there.

The new contract will allow InfoNXX to build new sites in Atlanta, Seattle, Phoenix, Denver and Sacramento, Calif.

The company acquires database information then writes its own software to create the desired functionality. Consequently, InfoNXX can provide directory service for the entire nation, except Tampa, Fla. (InfoNXX said GTE won’t sell its information.)

In San Francisco, InfoNXX not only gives the customer the requested phone number, but can connect the call as well, without an additional charge. Soon, it hopes to be able to connect calls throughout the country.

“Our objective is to help carriers build VIP loyalty and satisfy customers of the service. Having a live operator on your interface allows you to build loyalty with high-volume customers,” Pines said.

Pines and friend Evan Marwell (now company president) started the company in 1992. Their goal was to be the first alternative national directory assistance provider.

The total directory assistance market size is about $2.5 billion, Pines estimates. Many regional Bell operating companies have consolidated their directory assistance service, so that live operators are not necessarily located in cities involved in the transaction. For instance, the directory assistance operator for Bellevue, Wash., may be located in Missouri.

“Everyone’s looking for the next big enhanced service. It seems like having a live interface and working with customers to figure things out gives us a good advantage,” Pines said.

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