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DETROIT EDISON OPENS NEW CUSTOMER COMMUNICATIONS CENTER

 DETROIT EDISON OPENS NEW CUSTOMER COMMUNICATIONS CENTER
 DETROIT, April 8 /PRNewswire/ -- Detroit Edison (NYSE: DTE) today


announced the opening of a new advanced-technology communications center that will improve customers' phone contacts with the company by virtually eliminating busy signals and reducing the waiting time for most customer telephone transactions.
 Systems linked to the new center also will result in speedier reports of power outages and quicker restoration of outages resulting from storms.
 The centralized customer communications center, combined with a new toll-free phone number for customer service -- 1-800-477-4747 -- and a computerized voice response system, are part of a $40 million customer communication improvement program. Plans also included a nearly 50-percent increase in customer telephone representatives and an increase in telephone trunk lines, raising the total to more than 1,500 lines. Both will be fully in place by late June.
 The new customer communications center, located in Southfield, consolidates customer representatives from six telephone centers formerly located throughout the utility's southeastern Michigan service area. Previously, each geographic


region of the company used local customer service telephone numbers. The centralized facility allows Detroit Edison to use its resources more effectively, provides more customer representatives to answer calls and results in more timely responses.
 "These improvements, combining technology with additional telephone representatives, make it quicker and easier for customers to reach Detroit Edison to report service interruptions and emergencies, as well as deal with our company on more routine business matters," said Robert J. Buckler, vice president, Divisions.
 Installed at a cost of $9 million, the voice response system includes 34 Digital Equipment Corporation main-frame computers which enhance the company's ability to answer incoming calls -- particularly during storm emergencies. The equipment enables Detroit Edison to handle 32,000 to 40,000 calls per hour from customers reporting power outages -- more than any other electric utility in the country. Previously, the company could handle only about 2,500 calls per hour.
 "During storms," Buckler said, "this new technology will automatically direct customer outage information to the company's computerized Outage Analysis System, which helps identify damage and speed the dispatching of crews working on the power restoration effort. The bottom line is that with the addition of timely, carefully analyzed information we are able to restore service faster and serve our customers better."
 When calling Detroit Edison, customers now will hear a recorded voice asking them to indicate the purpose of their calls by pressing -- or in the case of customers with rotary telephones -- speaking a specified number after listening to a series of choices. By following directions, a customer can report service problems, or emergencies such as downed wires, without the assistance of a customer representative.
 The voice response system offers customers the opportunity to call back and learn the status and estimated restoration times of outages affecting their areas. With all transactions, customers also have the option of speaking directly with customer representatives.
 Additions to the system later this year will allow handling of some normal business transactions, such as bill-payment arrangements and account inquiries, by the automated response system.
 To provide greater protection from downed wires, Detroit Edison has developed a special network to improve communication with police and fire departments. These agencies will contact the company using individual identification numbers to speed direct communication with the company. The identification numbers will be distributed by the end of April. The company also will provide police and fire departments with backup facsimile and pager numbers to contact Detroit Edison in emergencies.
 Improvement of Detroit Edison customer communications is part of a broader, nearly $250 million service reliability improvement program announced last summer. Scheduled for completion in 1994, the program includes accelerating maintenance schedules, replacing power lines, constructing new substations, adding more circuits and intensifying line clearance, or tree trimming, to prevent and minimize the duration of power outages.
 -0- 4/8/92
 /CONTACT: Lorie N. Kessler, 313-237-8807, or Scott Simons, 313-237-8808, both of Detroit Edison/
 (DTE) CO: The Detroit Edison Company ST: Michigan IN: UTI SU: PDT


ML-KK -- DE009 -- 6143 04/08/92 10:23 EDT
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Apr 8, 1992
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