February 25, 2021—Customer service strategies are being used to separate smaller carriers from bigger ones during the pandemic, according to company executives speaking at the third general session Thursday at the conference of NTCA, the Rural Broadband Association.
In the session, industry members discussed their priorities and strategies during the pandemic and what they would be going forward.
Ben Foster, president and CEO of ISG Technology and Twin Valley Telephone, said that in his role with the companies he leads, he is always thinking about what elements of the business need to be prioritized.
That can revenue generation, customer experience, or cost cutting, depending on the day. He said that while revenue generation is an important focus, that is not mutually exclusive from providing a good customer experience.
Indeed, Foster stated that an emphasis on providing stellar customer service is a selling point for his customers, and larger ISPs cannot match what his companies provide in that regard.
Co-panelist Ross Petrick, CEO of Alliance Communications, said that while all the elements listed were important, customer experience was his priority. He said that now that there is a competitor encroaching in his company’s coverage area, the way he plans to distinguish Alliance Communications’ services is to ensure that they provide the best customer experience possible.
Foster pointed out that while larger broadband providers “cherry-pick” density, his company will serve the rural “five customers per mile” areas.
Jason Miller, general manager for Delhi Telephone Company, said a key component to this business model is ensuring that his consumers feel as though his business is a part of the community. He mentioned that Delhi Telephone Company partnered with local fire departments and hosted lunches and raffles.
Miller said that Delhi Telephone ended up raising more than $10,000 for these firehouses.
“Now we’re being recruited to go to their fire departments and hold an open house,” Miller said. “That’s the kind of positive buzz I’m talking about.”
Miller also said his company engages with local businesses, who are clients and keeps up with the community through Facebook.