I recently connected with Troy Mack, manager of network operations at West Carolina Tel, a telecommunications cooperative serving members across eight counties in South Carolina and Georgia. The recipient of the 2020 Calix “Innovations in Revenue EDGE” Award for Customer Experience, West Carolina Tel prides itself on ensuring subscriber satisfaction at every step of the journey. We discussed the critical role that field technicians (field techs are also known as installation and repair (I&R) techs) play in creating an outstanding subscriber experience, how innovative tools and technologies enhance field techs’ day-to-day work, and best practices that have changed how they support subscribers in the COVID era and beyond.
Can you describe a typical day for an I&R tech?
We have about 20 I&R techs (including contractors) covering multiple counties in Upstate SC, with some focusing only on new subscriber installations and others solely handling trouble tickets. Our techs do a minimum of three new installs per day, but for the techs handling troubles, the workload is highly variable—they could have two calls, or they could have 10. The one thing that doesn’t vary is our commitment to customer satisfaction. We won’t sacrifice quality—if we need to spend five hours at a subscriber site to ensure things are perfect, that’s okay.
What are some of the challenges your techs regularly faced?
Most of the techs want to get their job done independently. In the past, they needed to call the Network Operations Center (NOC) for prep and troubleshooting before and after they went onsite to a subscriber’s home. Sometimes the repair techs would travel several miles to find out that the issue could have been resolved remotely. They were mostly frustrated with not having easy access to the information they needed, when they needed it, and the inefficiencies that lack of information caused.
How have tools like Calix Support Cloud impacted your I&R techs?
We use Calix Support Cloud across our entire support organization, and it’s had a huge impact on our field techs’ daily jobs; streamlining processes, saving time, and increasing subscriber satisfaction. We use Role-based Access Control to make sure we give each team secure access to the information they need to do their jobs efficiently.
Our I&R techs are big Support Cloud users, logging in multiple times each day, using it to enter information, register equipment, troubleshoot Wi-Fi issues, reset passwords, or change SSIDs. They no longer need to call into the NOC for assistance and wait while things are looked up, removing a lot of back and forth and speeding up the process.
Our field techs particularly like having access to Support Cloud on their mobile devices—they’ll still use it on their laptops, but it’s so convenient having all the information they need right in the palm of their hand. They use it before they hit the road to see if they can resolve an issue without a trip and use it onsite to do a final check to make sure everything is perfect before they leave.
How does this translate into overall business impact?
Using Support Cloud has driven improvements across many of our KPIs. We’ve reduced the number of unnecessary truck rolls by approximately 15 percent. Average call times in the NOC are down by approximately 10 percent because they have greater visibility into the subscriber’s network and can pinpoint and address the issue much more quickly. Incidents of repeat trouble calls are down by 3 percent because our support team can easily see the root cause of the problem in Support Cloud. Subscriber satisfaction is higher because we can fix their issues more quickly, often over the phone, without any need for a visit. And employee satisfaction is up too—our team has the tools they need to do their jobs, and they’re delivering an excellent experience for our subscribers.
You were recognized for your agility and creativity in serving West Carolina Tel subscribers during the COVID-19 pandemic. What best practices have you adopted permanently?
Many of our I&R techs started working with Support Cloud during the pandemic because they had to stay outside subscribers’ homes—it allowed them to get things set up, diagnose problems, and resolve issues without ever having to go inside. We also started doing video calls with subscribers during this time and we are continuing that—we’ve been able to eliminate a lot of truck rolls, saving time and money. We will extend this to self-installs next, where we get everything pre-provisioned, help the subscribers get it set up, and we can check that everything is “green” remotely.
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