telephone service for businessesThe phone company uses codes called USOC’s (universal service order codes). Learning USOC’s is equivalent to learning a second language. These codes were originally established by AT&T but are still used by all the RBOC’s (Regional Bell Operating Companies). They truly are universal because my ex-mother in law worked for SaskTel, the phone company servicing Saskatchewan, and used the same codes that I used at Qwest (now CenturyLink), in Phoenix and Pac Bell (now AT&T), in San Diego. We were able to converse in USOC and no one knew what we were talking about.

USOC’s can, on occasion, make some sense. For instance, VMJXA is Voicemail. If you had to guess, you might guess Voicemail because the code started with “VM”. But most of the time the codes made no sense. ESX is Call Waiting. A jack is a RJ11C. Then there were the ridiculous acronyms. TAD stood for Telephone Answering Device. CPE was Customer Provided Equipment. You needed to learn these codes in order to interpret a customer’s account and type orders in systems like BOSS, (Billing Order Service System).

We were instructed to avoid using these terms when we were speaking with a customer. It would be silly to ask a customer if they wanted to add ESX to their 1FR (One Residential Phone Line). But there were reps that did just that. A CSR (Customer Service Representative) might say something like, “Sir, I brought up your CSR (Customer Service Record) in BOSS and I see that your business name in your ADL (Additional Listing) is spelled wrong.  I’ll need to perform an R order (Record Order) to correct the spelling and a C order (Change Order) to add the ESM (Call Forwarding) you requested.” In this example CSR has two different meanings so homonyms exist in USOC just as they do in English.

I’m not sure why USOC’s were invented other than to complicate things and necessitate extensive training for new phone company employees. I worked for two phone companies and received eleven weeks of initial training at one and ten weeks at the other. That’s more than two months pay to someone who isn’t producing anything.

I worked for in the Home Office Consulting Center for Qwest.  Our department sold 1FR’s and 1FB’s (One Flat Business), a business phone line, so we needed to learn residential and business USOCS.  For the most part, the USOCS are the same for both classes of service.  For instance, NNK (Caller ID) could be placed for business phone service just as it could be ordered for residential service.

When we placed an order adding phone services, like a POTS (Plain Old Telephone Service) line, we were required to quote the MRC (Monthly Reoccurring Charge), making sure to include all the taxes and surcharges like the CALC (Customer Access Line Charge) and the NRC (Non Reoccurring Charge) associated with the order.  Of course, that was after you asked the customer if you could look their CPNI (Customer Proprietary Network Information).

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