Mountain Bell

Topics: Bell System, Qualitative research, Marketing Pages: 15 (3195 words) Published: September 30, 2013
CASE 8-1
Mountain Bell
Telephone Company
Jim Martin, marketing research manager for Mountain
Bell, studied the final research design for the hospital
administrator study that had been prepared by Industrial Surveys, a marketing research firm in Denver. He realized that he needed to formulate some recommendations with respect to some very specific questions. Should individual personal interviewers be used as suggested by Industrial Surveys, or should a series of one to six focus-group interviews be used instead? Was the

questionnaire satisfactory? Should individual questions
be added, deleted, or modified? Should the flow be
changed? Exactly who should be sampled, and what
should the sample size be?
Research Setting
About 20 field salespeople at Mountain Bell Telephone Company were involved in sales of communication equipment and services to the health-care industry. Because of job rotations and reorganizations, few salespeople had been in their present positions for more than three years. They were expected to determine customer needs and problems and to

design responsive communication systems. In addition, there was a health-care industry manager, Andy Smyth, who had overall responsibility for the healthcare industry marketing effort at Mountain Bell, although none of the sales personnel reported directly

to him. He prepared a marketing action plan and
worked to see that it was implemented. The marketing action plan covered Sales objective by product and by segment
Sales training programs
Development of sales support materials and
Andy Smyth was appointed only recently to his
current position, although he had worked in the healthcare market for several years while with the Eastern Bell Telephone Company. Thus, he did have some firsthand knowledge of customer concerns. Further, there was an AT&T marketing plan for the health-care industry which included an industry profile; however, it lacked the detailed information needed, especially at

the local level. It also lacked current information as to
competitive products and strategies.
Mountain Bell had long been a quasi-monopoly,
but during the past decade had seen vigorous aggressive competitors appear. Andy Smyth thought it imperative to learn exactly what competitive products

were making inroads, in what applications, and the
basis of their competitive appeal. He also felt the need
for some objective in-depth information as to how
major Mountain Bell customers in the health-care
industry perceived the company’s product line and its
sales force. He hypothesized that the sales force was
generally weak in terms of understanding customers’
communication needs and problems. He felt that such
information would be particularly helpful in understanding customers’ concerns and in developing an effective sales training program. He hoped that the end
result would be to make the sales force more customer
oriented and to increase revenues from the health-care
While at Eastern Bell, Andy Smyth had initiated a
mail survey of hospital administrators that had been of
some value. Several months before, he had approached
Jim Martin with the idea of doing something similar at
Mountain. Jim’s reaction was that the questionnaire
previously used was too general (that is one question
was: What basic issues confront the health-care area?)
or too difficult to answer (How much do you budget
monthly for telecommunications equipment or service?
0–$1,000; $1,000–$2,000; etc.) Further, he felt that indepth individual interviews would be more fruitful. Thus, he contacted Industrial Surveys, which, after considerable discussion with both Jim and Andy, created the research design. They were guided by the following

research objectives:
1. What are the awareness and usage levels of
competitive telecommunications products by the
2. What is the perception of Mountain Bell’s sales force
capabilities as compared to other telecommunications...
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