Allstream takes flight with WestJet contract renewal [Portfolio]

Though its name may have changed, Allstream is still the right fit for Canada’s fastest growing airline.

Calgary-based WestJet has renewed a relationship with the company formerly known as AT&T Canada with a two-year, $4-million contract for a range of telecommunications services. Allstream will continue to provide data, Internet and long distance voice services to the national airline.

While cost was a factor for WestJet, culture was too, says Rosanna Imbrogno, director of customer service.

“They fit WestJet very well,” she says. “We are a unique culture and we need someone who understands what our culture is and how we drive our business model.”

The company has already been with WestJet for four years, and while the airline felt it was time to take a quick look to see what other vendors could offer, it made sense for WestJet to stay with Allstream for another two years, says Imbrogno.

“We didn’t feel it necessary to move away from Allstream,” she says. “We partnered up with someone who understands us.”

Keeping costs low is what keeps WestJet competitive, says Imbrogno, “and we innovate like crazy. You have to have an entrepreneur in you to do that.” WestJet sees the same qualities in Allstream.

Among the services provided by Allstream is its high-speed network that connects between WestJet’s head office, data centres, hangars and call centre facilities. WestJet serves 26 cities across Canada, and employs 3,500 people, 2,000 of whom work in customer service, an area Imbrogno says sees a great deal of benefit from the Allstream relationship.

“We’re doing more and more sales on the Internet,” she says. Currently, 65 per cent of bookings are done online, and WestJet expects that to increase, which pushes the call centre to become a more rounded contact centre, says Imbrogno. “We’re going to have to use different technology. (Allstream) has people in their organization who understand call centres very well.”

Imbrogno says it made sense to only sign a two-year deal with Allstream since WestJet is rapidly changing. While WestJet is evolving, focused on innovation and cost-conscious, says Imbrogno, it’s not looking to lead the technology. Voice over IP, she says, is still not something WestJet is willing to embrace.

“No one’s really perfected it yet,” she says.

One leading edge technology that has aided WestJet, says Imbrogno, is ResponseTek, which enables the airline to gather feedback from its customers.

The deal with WestJet is Allstream’s first major customer win since its rebranding two months, says David Grixti, Allstream’s sales vice-president, Western Region, and in terms of size and scope is one of its top 100 customers.

WestJet’s potential to bring more revenue and business to Allstream is significant, he says. “It opens up opportunities to expand the network. WestJet is growing and expanding the cities they fly into and we are growing with them.”

AT&T Canada relaunched itself as Allstream in June to reposition itself as a national provider of connectivity, infrastructure management and IT services. The name change follows AT&T Canada’s successful debt restructuring plan last April.

Original printed in Computing Canada, August 8, 2003, Vol. 29 No. 15

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