May 5, 2020 by Kezia Gollapudi

What Does Navigating the New Normal Mean to Your Tech Support Team? Nick Colton at ALLO Communications Responds


It definitely wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say all our lives have turned upside down in recent weeks. Changes to our personal and professional lives hit us fast and furious, but I am amazed by how quickly both individuals and businesses have adapted to the new normal.

Two weeks ago, during a live Calix webinar, Today’s new reality: 3 things service providers can do for their subscribers, we asked close to 100 service providers how they are keeping their staff and subscribers safe, especially with regards to installs. Results showed:

  • 62 percent: have found unique approaches like “porch deliveries” of equipment along with remote assistance
  • 38 percent: continue to handle installs with essential safety protocols
  • 7 percent of CSPs completely pulled the plug on installs

At ALLO Communications, with demand for new installs almost doubling in the communities they serve, installs have been limited to Internet only and they’ve pared back on truck rolls for repairs. Nick Colton, Director of Technical Support at ALLO, shares his perpective on how they are doubling down on remote troubleshooting to drive down visits to subscriber homes.

Kezia: How is your tech support team impacted? What changes have you made?

Nick: The situation has been dynamic over the past 6 weeks, with processes changing almost daily. Right now, except for a few customer service reps following the social distancing protocol in the office, the tech support team is taking calls from home.

To limit repair dispatches, we are making sure we take the time to remotely troubleshoot as much as possible using Calix Support Cloud. Trouble calls have gone up but it’s mostly been a seamless transition, especially with subscribers understanding that we are striving to deliver the same level of service even with a kid or a cat running in the background.

However, we have had to rework staffing schedule with the spike in trouble calls and change in call patterns. Fortunately most of the calls haven’t been about issues with ALLO’s service, but a need for customer education.

Kezia: What trends are you are seeing with everyone at home, all the time?

Nick: Not surprising traffic has gone up across the board. Here’s the breakdown:

  • Traffic during business hours (8 am-5 pm) is up ~40 percent
  • Traffic during peak hours (5 pm-12 am) is up ~19 percent
  • Internet traffic is up ~26 percent
  • Cache/direct peer traffic is up ~34 percent

Kezia: Which support KPIs do you typically measure? And how are they changing?

Nick: Overall COVID-19 has made a mess of our metrics, between moving employees to work from home to increased call volume and installations.

  • Trouble calls almost doubled initially but slowly trending down. Most troubles calls needed customer education on slow speeds with kids having brought home new technology from school and slow VPN connections. Some of our subscribers were working from home for the first time ever, so we have spent a lot of time explaining basics. Here’s a blog we recently published educating our subscribers on VPN: All About Your VPN. The ability to track what is a customer inquiry versus an actual trouble issue has been vital.
  • Average Handle Time (AHT) has gone up as well. We are on the phone longer troubleshooting to avoid dispatches as much as possible. We are also taking time explaining and giving subscribers the peace-of-mind with the intelligence we have at our fingertips on their home Wi-Fi experience.
  • Net Promoter Score (NPS) month-over-month measure for customer satisfaction continues to stay high at +67 in spite to the crisis.

Kezia: Which trends and practices are here to stay post-COVID-19?

Nick: The team has done an amazing job rolling with the changes, and while not easy, setting us up to have improved processes when things do return to “normal.” Here are some shifts in particular.

  • Work from home and online education are being forecasted as longer term trends. So as network performance and reliability become more critical, the expectation of time-to-resolution will get shorter if the subscribers experience any degradation or issues. Having the right intelligence and troubleshooting diagnostics at the fingertips the support team is a must to fix issues faster and in real-time.
  • Staffing the support team will change drastically. With changing trends in network usage and new call patterns during the day/week, having a support team that is able to work in flexible shifts is important as we reconfigure the support resources.
  • Self-help apps like the ALLO SmartCare App will play an essential role in ensuring we are empowering and partnering with our subscribers to stay in control of their experience, and cut down on support costs.

A huge thanks to Nick for making time during his busy day to share these trends and thoughts. To see how other CSPs are tackling the new normal, be sure to watch the webinar recording: Today’s new reality: 3 things service providers can do for their subscriber