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Cut Customer Anxiety Part I

By Katie Williams, Founder & CEO, CommuniKateCo

When a customer is changing carriers or upgrading voice or data services, they are likely to have some anxiety about the process.  As an agent or reseller, you have an opportunity to make this process smoother for them and gain a customer for life. 

To be successful, you need the customer to see there is more value in going with an agent or reseller who is going to be there for them when they need them, than to go directly with the carrier, who, lets face it, will offer them the same price.  But you have to be able do more than just offer to support them, you need to follow through or you will find your turn over is high and your residuals will suffer.  So below is Part 1 of a list of things you can do to improve your customers implementation and overall telecom experience.

1. Explain the implementation process upfront.  Each carrier has a slightly different version but they all have the same basic milestones. Ask your carriers to provide you with a list of the allotted time for each milestone by facility type (T1, T3 and Ethernet).  Create a short synopsis of this process in your welcome letter or introductory e-mail. Youll save yourself some calls from the customer looking for updates and it will help the customer to feel confident that you are on top of the implementation.

2. Get involved in getting all the technical information up front. You may be wondering why you should have to do this when most carriers have to collect this information anyway and you can hand in the signed contract and let the carrier chase after the rest. That is one way to do it, but what you dont see is that the carriers begin having interdepartmental conflicts about whose job it is to collect what information. As a result the departments reject the order back to each other looking for more information and before you know it, its been weeks and your order hasnt moved.  And then some poor soul decides theyll have to collect the information, they call the customer and now the customer knows its not moved.  Plus, you have a vested interest in making sure the order goes in smoothly with no mistakes because the customer will see YOU as their telecom provider, not the carrier, and you will get their ongoing business.

3. Attend customer turnups.  This is where things can often go wrong. When things do go wrong, trust me, you want to be there to smooth it over.  Sometimes the carrier tech doesnt do due diligence in figuring out what the issue is and points back to the customer or their equipment. This is where your customer gets irate and starts threatening people. Get involved before it gets ugly. You can be the customer advocate and protect the carrier relationship and be everyones hero. 

Yes, these steps my cost you a little more time to implement, but you will find the financial benefits far outweigh the time it will cost. 

Katie Williams is founder and CEO of CommuniKateCo, which provides telecommunications back-office support to agents and resellers.  Williams has worked in the telecommunications industry since 1996 in both CLEC and incumbent organizations.  Previously, she was a product manager for a wholesale carrier supporting 30 carriers and a large VAR base with product pricing, training and post-order processes.  For 15 years, Williams has assisted sales teams, agents and VARs in managing implementations, driving process improvements and providing sales tools that help them to effectively serve their end-users. 


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