Broadband Communities

JAN-FEB 2014

BROADBAND COMMUNITIES is the leading source of information on digital and broadband technologies for buildings and communities. Our editorial aims to accelerate the deployment of Fiber-To-The-Home and Fiber-To-The-Premises.

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54 | BROADBAND COMMUNITIES | | JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2014 SERVICE PROVIDER STRATEGIES identifying them now. We've been pounding the pavements. Once building owners learn about us, they're very interested in fnding out more. We think we can add a great amenity for those communities by selling a wireless product on a bulk basis, bundled with the rent. BBC: Why bulk service? NS: Tere are economies of scale in a bulk deal, and it lets us provide a high level of customer service. We want everyone's service to work well, and with a bulk deal we know how much backhaul we need so that no one has any problems. We'll use microwave for backhaul unless there's fber available. We have 188 towers and can provide up to 1 Gbps to a building. Tat's very similar to what a fber strand would look like going into a building, and it's hard to run a backhoe into our signal. Point-to-point wireless backhaul is just as reliable as fber. BBC: Will you add video as well? NS: Probably not, though we are an authorized DISH dealer and could do it if the economics make sense and we could ofer it on a bulk basis. But if you go into an MDU with a young population, like a renovated loft building, the 20-somethings aren't looking for TV. Tey just ask, "How fast is my broadband?" BBC: You mentioned earlier that most of your customers are in rural areas and don't have wired broadband options. How will you compete in MDU buildings that already have cable and/or DSL? NS: First of all, the cable and phone companies generally don't provide as much bandwidth as they could. Even when they do, it comes with very low levels of customer service. I've been hiring people who have the same values I have – people who will help instead of reading from a script and not having to know anything past getting the cable modem up. Many building managers and residents are so disenchanted with their current providers that I don't even have to be faster or lower-priced. I just have to care about you and make sure you're up and running and not give you the cold shoulder. We are trying to put the "service" back into "Internet service provider." BBC: How do you fnd people who care about customers? NS: We have an 11-step hiring process, starting with reviewing résumés and ending with going out to dinner, along with spouses, and observing candidates' interactions: Are they kind to waiters? Do they arrive on time? Can they carry on a normal conversation? No single step disqualifes anyone. Ten there's a three-month training process. A newly hired installer spends two weeks in inventory, then shadows other installers, then does upgrades, and only after that can go out in the feld as an installer. We have to train our installers well as we trust them to make the right decisions and don't make them waste time by taking pictures of their installs. For customer service staf, we train them to treat others the way they want to be treated, and we empower them to resolve customer problems. Customer service reps can adjust billing up to $100 if they think it's justifed or reverse late fees unless a customer is a chronic late payer, but it is the customer service rep's call. We also pay support staf well. Tey don't have to become managers to get raises. If they're really good at customer service, we want them to keep doing it. We encourage staf to speak up if they have ideas about better ways of doing things, and they do come up with innovations. Just recently, one of our installers saw someone using a tool that could slide cable under siding and realized it could save a ton of time. We just bought one for everyone. I also bring staf at all levels to conferences to learn best practices in their area. I don't let them sit with each other at conferences. I want them to meet other people, learn from them and share their own experiences – they get a real sense of pride from helping others solve problems. When they get back, they present what they've learned to the rest of our staf. BBC: What kind of feedback do you get from customers? NS: Recently, we had a 10-year anniversary picnic for the staf and invited our customers, too. Some people came from two to three hours away. Hundreds of people came just for a hot dog and a hamburger! Many of them said, "I came because the support guy is so helpful, I wanted to meet him in person." I've always wanted to have fanatical customers. Tat's what we're striving for. v In an MDU with a young population, the 20-somethings aren't looking for TV. They just ask, "How fast is my broadband?" Customers who came to the Wisper picnic said, "The tech support guy is so helpful, I just wanted to meet him in person." BBC_Jan14.indd 54 1/27/14 1:47 PM

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