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Ernest Communications Inc. (ECI)




ISO contact:

Andy Meyers,
ATM Local Service Manager
Phone: 800-456-8353
E-mail: ameyers@ernestgroup.com

Company address:

5275 Triangle Parkway, Suite 150
Norcross, GA 30092
Phone: 800-456-8353
Fax: 770-448-4115
Web site: www.ernestgroup.com

ISO benefits:

  • Enhanced competitiveness
  • "Evergreen" commissions
  • Seamless conversions
  • In-depth product training and sales support

Dial in to Ernest Communications

When thinking about local and long distance companies or telecommunications providers, a few letters come to mind: AT&T, SBC ... and ECI. The third one might not be as familiar as the others, but ECI, or Ernest Communications Inc., is the nation's largest local and long distance telecommunications company exclusively serving multi-location accounts.

ECI specializes in providing local and long distance services to public telephones, ATMs, point-of-sale (POS) devices and multi-location businesses by consolidating local telephone lines, bills and service calls.

ECI entered the communications industry in 1984, and it has demonstrated tremendous growth in the past 20 years. In fact, ECI has experienced a 50% average annual growth rate since inception.

The company began providing local telephone service in Texas and Georgia in 1997. Today, it originates and terminates over 1 billion minutes of local and long distance traffic annually and either provides or manages services for more than 50,000 customer locations in all 50 U.S. states.

ECI does not market to small business or residential customers; rather, it focuses on large, multi-location accounts.

"We want to manage the accounts that are too difficult, time consuming and resource draining for companies to manage themselves," said Jay J. Morris, ECI's Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing.

"ECI growth and profitability is based on delivering first-in-class service and value for medium to large multi-location business customers wishing to reduce their telephony expenses and manage their telecommunications assets more effectively."

Say Hello to a Different Kind of Phone Service

One benefit of using ECI is that its services are often more affordable than those of its competitors. How does the company do it?

"It's not a secret," Morris said. "In the same way AT&T, MCI and others tap into the incumbent local telephone companies' networks, ECI buys at a certain price and we are able to mark up less than the incumbent phone companies and our competitors due to our market focus and customer base."

Unlike traditional telephone companies, ECI's average customer has hundreds of lines, rather than only one or two.

This enables ECI to better manage overhead while delivering a more detailed approach to providing knowledge-based customer service.

While saving money is important to any business owner, the company offers something that is even more valuable: ECI customers receive one invoice, no matter how many locations they have throughout the country.

ECI can do this because its focus on mid- to large-sized customers has enabled it to develop a customized billing platform that provides customers with consolidated, simple and manageable invoices, no matter how many locations they have.

"What we offer is peace of mind," Morris said. Another aspect that makes the company unique is that customers always contact their specific dedicated ECI representative, no matter what or where their needs are.

In other words, ECI customers only need to remember one name and one number, while most telecommunications customers have to endure separate contacts for billing, repairs, new orders, change requests, etc.

ECI's vision of customer service puts the personal touch back in the service model. "Whether it's a live operator, maximum thresholds on service hold queues or a dedicated account manager, ECI believes in accountability and service to our customers," Morris said.

The company matches clients with a single point of contact for all their needs. If a customer wants to have a line changed, added or removed, or has a repair, he or she contacts the same person for all of those issues.

ECI also does not require customers to commit to service contracts. "Our service is our contract to the customer," Morris said. "You outsource your dial tone to us, and let us worry about service related issues." The company also customizes each customer's statement to be compatible with the accounting software of his or her choice.

Finally, when customers convert to ECI's service, the company transfers lines in a seamless transition, without any interruption in service and without any conversion fees.

Once a customer decides to convert to ECI, the conversion is simple. The customer chooses a day to switch, and ECI seamlessly converts the service.

A Clear Connection for ISOs/MLSs

ECI sells its products and services through a channel agent sales program. The company said that ISOs and merchant level salespeople (MLSs) have been instrumental in helping it develop relationships with large merchant companies.

ECI wants to allow ISOs/MLSs to do what they do best: sell. ECI will do what it does best: manage phone service. "If I were an ISO, I would not want to spend my time managing 50 different phone lines," Morris said.

Working with ECI is a low maintenance way for ISOs/MLSs to increase their earnings, while letting ECI handle the account conversion, billing and client maintenance.

ECI offers different levels of agent sales and lead programs, and commissions reflect their involvement in the sale. ISOs/MLSs can simply provide leads and receive a commission, or they can make a bigger commitment and receive a larger commission.

The company bases commissions on a percentage of the local and long distance services the customer purchases. It also bases the commission percentages on whether the ISOs/MLSs provided a sale or a lead, and the amounts are contingent on total billed revenue of all accounts combined.

"The agent gets a piece of the business just for the introduction," Morris said. "If he wants to take it further and be trained and sell the service, that's another level of compensation.

Full blown sales agents stay a little bit more involved in the account, since the customer already feels comfortable working with them."

ISOs/MLSs selling ECI services can enhance their competitiveness by increasing their value-proposition to their merchants.

"ISOs can use ECI's costs, which are cheaper than the incumbents' costs, which creates increased value to the customer," Morris said.

By combining multiple locations under one single telecom management provider, ECI agents provide increased profitability to their customers through reduced infrastructure, management and accounting costs.

ECI agent representatives also have the ability to provide nationwide coverage and a single-source customer service division for local and long distance services.

In fact, ECI is the only communications company that offers ATM operators one bill and one single point of contact for local service for every ATM location nationwide. As the market becomes flooded with copycat products, offering a one-of-a-kind service can be the key to differentiating your business from the competition.

ECI also offers ISOs/MLSs in-depth product training and sales support, including sales seminars, literature and training personnel. The "411" on the Future

ECI is one of the nation's largest local and long distance telecommunications companies, and it has plans for continued growth.

"ECI will continue to develop products and services exclusively designed for the ATM market to assist ATM operators in more effectively managing their ATM markets," Morris said.

In fact, ECI has a suite of wireless data products for primary and back-up service for ATMs, as well as other machine-to-machine applications, currently under development.

"Soon, ECI's wireless communications products will also be available to bundle with ECI's existing 'wireline' products and billing solutions," Morris said.

He said the company's vision is to grow profitably, continue delivering on its promises and develop innovative products to increase the value proposition to customers, all while offering a safe, fun and prosperous work environment for employees.

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