This is the last of a four-part series on using customer service as an effective community broadband marketing tool.
The past few weeks have been fun engaging in a conversation about preparing to create a level of customer service that translates into strong marketing that helps you withstand incumbents’ marketing onslaught as well as increase revenue. This week I want to wrap up by giving you some recommendations for customer service activities after you launch.
Manage expectation of services
You can’t build it all, all at once. Once you announce the network, quite a few people all over town will want service available as soon as the network goes live. However, as one project manager stated, “Somebody has to be last.” How well you convey that message and how equitable constituents perceive the roll out establishes a subliminal positive or negative image for the customer service. You can’t market “Customer Service is Job 1” and have credibility unless your business actions from the start reflect that message. Google in Kansas City is fighting a negative “service” image in low-income areas because of the company’s focus on building to areas that have money and the perception it doesn’t care about poor neighborhoods.
There’s another element of managing expectations effectively. Once the network starts to roll into the various neighborhoods, there is going to be a seriously pent-up demand for broadband, which is kind of a good news/bad news situation. The good news is that you’ll sign up a lot of subscribers right out of the gate. The bad news is that if you haven’t prepared enough of the right resources (installers, help desk staff, tech service people, etc.), you won’t be able to meet this demand. This too can put a cloud over your customer service team, and you’ll have to fight an uphill battle to establish an image of being a customer service-driven.
Leverage, promote factors that contribute to good service
Everyone involved with the management, operations, repair and marketing of a community broadband network, as well as the customer and technical service, are subscribers’ neighbors, so they care about subscribers more. The complete service and repair apparatus is physically in the community, so response to customer calls is faster and more convenient. New services are constantly in development. Even with their billions of dollars, giant incumbents can’t easily trump these advantages. Promote these advantages aggressively.
Cross train your people who interact with subscribers
Consider prepping various employees within your organization to be able to provide information outside of their individual specialty that enhances your customer service-centric focus. For example, installers and field service people, particularly those serving business subscribers, should carry mobile device with access to information to help your subscribers get additional value from your network. Sales reps similarly should have access to common tech issues and solutions that they can address basic issues on the sales call rather than funneling subscribers to your tech support center.
Be ready for “proactive” customer service
In the business world, good sales reps have a couple of marketing promo pieces that a customer or prospect they’re calling on can pass along to someone who may one day become a customer. A similar concept may make sense in the customer service area. Sales reps and field techs can drop off documents that offer “10 Tips for a Trouble-free Installation,” “Linking Home Devices in Your Gig World,” and “Maximizing Your Business Online, or stock these by the cashiers where customers pay their bills.
Maintain an active feedback loop
It’s one thing to keep some feedback forms in your office lobby. But nothing says “service” like actively engaging customers in advisory teams to work with feedback and each other to design/enhance service procedures, new support programs and training programs to help subscribers get more from their technology. This level of customer involvement is incredibly potent for staying ahead of their needs and also increasing the quality of customer service you deliver.
Run an effective text messaging campaign
When text messaging is done correctly, customer expectations are met and in most cases exceeded with customer satisfaction rising in turn. Proactively delivering customer specific information to even a moderate percentage of your customers also will yield significant operational and financial.
The Mobile Marketing Association tightly regulates the delivery of messages to mobile devices, so be sure you check in with their Web site to make sure your campaign conforms with their guidelines. “Mobile-minded customers must ‘opt-in’ to your SMS service, for example, prior to being sent any operational messages,” states NuTEQ COO Mike Roddy. “Sending unwanted content is an invitation for unwanted attention. NuTEQ Solutions’ GOCare product suite has built-in features that ensure customers remain compliant with industry standard requirements without having to learn new regulations.
Be sure your IT staff appropriately integrates the text messaging app with your back office systems even if you have multiple vendors. Managing APIs of the various applications you buy or build to integrate your customer service with other parts of the business operations is critical to success. Be sure your vendors address this issue well.
Your text messaging vendor should be your network business partner whose interests are aligned with yours, and vice versa. This includes, ideally, a pricing schedule that is built on success. “NuTEQ only charges for GOCare’s bi-directional messaging capabilities based on the number of customers that opt-in,” says Roddy. “There is no upfront integration fee or capital expense.”
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