On the Call: CenturyLink COO Karen Puckett

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On Wednesday, phone company CenturyLink Inc. reported that its third-quarter net income fell as expenses related to its April acquisition of larger phone company Qwest rose.

The company reported a net gain of 57,000 broadband subscribers during the quarter ? it had 5.5 million at the end of September. Had CenturyLink owned Qwest a year ago, it would have had 5.3 million broadband customers at that time.

The company also had 14.8 million access lines at the end of the period, down from the 15.9 million that the two companies had a year earlier.

During a conference call with analysts to discuss the company’s results, Karen Puckett, CenturyLink’s chief operating officer, answered a question about what the company is doing to get more people to sign up for its phone and broadband Internet services.

QUESTION: Can you give us an idea of what you’re doing to improve broadband and phone line growth?

ANSWER: (General managers) have clearly a line of sight that you can’t have from a corporate headquarters, and so they know what are the right grassroots marketing programs to implement in their markets, be it military, college and school. They also work back with the corporate marketing group to make sure that we’ve got the right placement in terms of media.

In terms of our direct mail, just increasing that direct mail and marketing to more of the non-customers, as well as the tier-two and tier-three markets, we think we increased our promotional call volume significantly as a result of that. … Double-play data and voice play has worked for a well for us, customers like the price lock for five years. Gives them some assurance in terms of their budgets, and the get them in a bundle. … From a channel standpoint, the call center, there’s been a lot of focus on sales execution and our model in terms of how we sell from a top-down approach, working through the needs of the customer.