Post leading by leaps & bounds

Wednesday, May 18, 2005 at 12:00am

How is Cricket's overall health?

The company is relaunching its brand, products and services. We have a new ad campaign [started April 5] to support this. The highlights of the products include a $45 monthly unlimited access plan, which includes unlimited local and long distance calls and text/picture/instant messaging. It also includes voice mail, caller ID and call waiting. Since we launched the plan, 80 percent of our customers have chosen it. We've also launched some handsets that have picture capability. And we've redesigned our retail stores to be more user-friendly at the point of sales.

How much has Cricket spent on this effort?

We do not release that information.

Describe the campaign.

The key message is "Stop counting. Go Cricket." We are highlighting the fact customers don't have to count minutes given the unlimited flat-rate features. And we're trying hard to put a human face on wireless. Our ads feature customers saying why it's advantageous to use Cricket.

What is your main focus related to the local market?

My predecessor, Miles Johnson [Cricket's Nashville-based national sales vice president], was very involved in the community. We like to think of ourselves as a hometown entity. We have started several events here, including the Nashville Zoo Running Wild 10K event. Last year, we netted $45,000 in fund-raising as the main sponsor and co-founder with the zoo. We're also involved with the YMCA. We provide phones to the Oasis Center volunteers and phones during the holiday season to homeless. We work closely with Tennessee State University, and we're active within the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce. We have individuals sitting on various local boards. We want to give back to the community as much as we can.
Conversation with a leader

Greg Post,

Regional Vice President,
Leap Wireless Inc./Cricket Communications

Hometown: Manhattan, Kan.

Age: 46
Education: Bachelor's degree in personnel administration, University of Kansas
First conventional job: Night auditor, Keystone Ski Resort (Colo.)
Hypothetical dream job: Federal Reserve chairman
Last November, Cricket named Greg Post regional vice president. Based out of the Nashville office (which Cricket launched in 2000 as its eastern United States headquarters), Post oversees the day-to-day operations of 19 company locations in eight states east of the Mississippi River. Post has Cricket focused on various community improvement programs and leads about 100 employees. Cricket has earned a first-place network ranking among all major wireless competitors in the Nashville market (study conducted by the independent Envision Wireless).

Cricket partners with the Metro Police Department.

We've enjoyed the partnership. We've been able to save them a significant amount of money with the unlimited value program. They pay a set fee every month.

In 2004, the San Diego Better Business Bureau reported that Leap Wireless Inc., doing business as Cricket Communications, had an unsatisfactory record due to a pattern of complaints concerning delays in customers receiving rebates and having difficulty in contacting the company. In addition, the Better Business Bureau of Metropolitan Dallas has filed numerous complaints against Cricket with the Federal Trade and Federal Communications commissions. Your thoughts?

In response to this issue in Dallas, we wrote a letter on June 29, 2004. What we realized was that our letters were being sent to a Cricket vendor in Dallas. Therefore, the letters were not being responded to in a timely manner. We have asked both the San Diego and Dallas Better Business Bureaus to send the letters to the local Cricket markets from which they originated. This will allow us to provide a faster response time.

We recognize it's an area in which we can do a better job. Every customer complaint is sent to senior management, and I view every letter. Senior management responds to every letter to ensure resolution to every complaint.

Given some past difficulties, how would you rate Cricket's current customer service effort?

On a scale of one to 10, I would give us a seven. But we are continuously trying to improve.

Describe a Cricket customer.

Because of the unlimited nature of our product, 52 percent of our customers no longer have traditional landline service at their homes. The industry average is 6 percent. We are the industry leader, according to a 2004 Yankee Group mobile user survey.

What is your view of the conventional phone service provider industry?

The industry is transitioning tremendously. Going forward, it will focus on products like voice-over IP and high-speed data services [such as DSL and wireless alternatives]. Owners of the large wireless service companies [Verizon, Cingular parent BellSouth/SBC, etc.] will continue to focus on the growth in the wireless industry in both voice and data.

Nashville-based Asurion is your handset insurance provider. How has this relationship progressed?

We have a strong relationship with Asurion. Their strength is that they will customize their products and services to fit our needs.

Where nationally does Cricket rank among those in the industry?

In terms of customers, we're currently No. 10.

The industry has seen various recent mergers. Is that good or bad for customers?

Cingular and AT&T Wireless merged, and Sprint and Nextel will close this summer. Alltel and Western Wireless are in the process of merging. And the merger of a few smaller entities is possible. In the early phases of mergers, there will always be integration challenges. The companies will have to work out the kinks. But ultimately, it's good for the customers, because these companies will get stronger. And there is still significant competition. This is good for the customers.

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