Interview with Level3's Schlagbaum

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Interview with Level3's Schlagbaum

This Q & A with Craig Schlagbaum, Vice President, Indirect Channels, Level3 comes from their monthly newsletter and is printed with Craig's permission.

Q: What is the top reason that partners should sell Level 3 today?
A:It's been about two and a half years since we launched the program, and our customer's experience today is the best it has ever been after integrating seven other carriers. We're now meeting our CCD set/met and our standard intervals at 90/90/80 percent of our goals which means customers are getting installed on a timely basis. I would also add that Level 3 is the premier alternative service provider with a global IP network providing greater customer responsiveness and expertise at more competitive prices. And for our partners, we offer a complete portfolio of enterprise solutions including voice, data, and IP, that they can provide to their customers.

Q: What steps did you take to reach these customer and partner satisfaction goals?
A: We have worked diligently to focus on making the customer our number one priority. We've redesigned our partner and customer support teams to streamline the customer experience, give us better visibility into their needs and how to best meet them. We've empowered our partners with tools like MasterStream, the Level(3)Enabled Portal and the Business Partner Portal, and we've put together some really aggressive promotions for our partners and their customers.

Q: How much impact has tools like MasterStream and your portals had on the program?
A: We have tripled our quote volumes since MasterStream launched because it's made it a lot easier for partners to do business with Level 3 and respond to their customers' needs immediately. They can use it to quote all major Level 3 services automatically. The partner portal also offers partners a wide range of resources like on-net location data, service maps, marketing collateral and training. In addition, our customer-enabled portal has real time data on customer installs, and trouble tickets can be generated without a phone call.

Q: Are there any new incentive programs partners can take advantage of?
A: There are tremendous incentives right now. The Economic Stimulus Promotion has been extended through the end of the year and we just announced the "Connect NOW with Level 3" bonus. This new program lets partners earn a one-time bonus payout based on sales growth from August 3rd to October 31st in addition to their existing commission rates.

Q: What are some advantages for partners that diversify their offerings with Level 3?
A: Well, I think it's really important that partners have diverse offerings beyond the incumbent carriers and we think we have the best alternative solution in the U.S. today - especially considering that more and more VARs and System Integrators want to offer total solutions to their customers and we can help them provide it. As more applications, storage and monitoring are provided as "on-demand" services, we become a more essential ingredient to our partners' solutions and a critical component to solving their customers' business issues.

Another key advantage is that we view our partners as an extension of our sales force; an integral part of our overall business strategy. Since we are vested in our partners' long-term success across the board and we are nimble enough to respond to their needs, they can lead with us and feel confident in our strong support for them.

Q: How do you validate that you're making strides in the program?
A: We have a great survey program called Voice of the Partner, or VOP. Our VOP surveys are showing the best ratings we've ever had - in particular for Partner Sales Managers, SE, Partner Support Group, partner marketing and our overall ease of doing business. These surveys validate that our partners feel all of these program elements are very strong, and it tells us we are in a strong position to be a leading carrier supplier for them.

Q: Given everything we've discussed, can you recap all the key reasons why now is best time to sell Level 3?
A: Certainly. We offer a superior customer experience and we are dedicated to the long-term success of our partners. We provide the support, resources, tools and aggressive incentives necessary to make it both easy and profitable to do business with us. And, we are uniquely positioned to help our partners diversify their service offerings in the marketplace and provide their customers with a total. In short, we are a strong partner, we provide solid customer support, we are easy to do business with and we provide strong financial motivation for our partners to sell Level 3.

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