Shout Out for Those Operators that Keep Us Connected
As a 25-year veteran of the telecoms and cable industries in Europe and the US, I’m immensely proud of the efforts of ISPs and their frontline staff to keep people and the economy connected during this time. It has also reinforced the importance of Support and how now is the time to rethink the current model.
Empty Nesters No Longer
My wife and I had settled nicely into our new life with the second of our two sons gone off to college.
But that all changed for us in March with the closing of universities in the US.
There’s been more washing, more food, but also many more demands on our broadband connection as we work, study and exercise at home.
We’ve got a lot running online in this house: Zoom for Zumba and online college classes, and soon exams, FaceTime for contacting the parents back in Ireland, Hangouts and Slack for work, Webex and Teams for clients, Xbox Live for gaming, Netflix for escape, Peloton for a spin class or two. The SmartHomeManager app from AT&T tells me that 22 devices are connected right now. So, there is no surprise that, as the home has become the office, gym, and college, the total Internet usage has been surging these last few weeks. By the way, that Peloton class had more than 92,000 attendees, a greater than 7-fold increase from January.
Connected and Grateful
All this activity has made me want to extend a sincere thanks to the Internet Service Providers (ISPs) who are working extremely hard to keep our Internet up and running, despite the ever-increasing demand. They are really providing an essential service. They are also the ones allowing us to do the social distancing so we can flatten the curve of this virus. As a 25-year veteran of the telecoms and cable industries in Europe and the US, I’m proud of the efforts of the entire industry to keep people and the economy connected during this time.
"It’s the telcos and cable providers that I want to particularly give a shout out to for keeping us all connected"
I also appreciate the behind-the-scenes complexity required to make all this work.
While the likes of Netflix, Amazon, and Disney are taking measures to ease the burden on the networks, it’s the telcos and cable providers that I want to particularly give a shout out to for keeping us all connected. Many ISPs are getting hammered with negativity on Trustpilot, OnHoldWith, Twitter, and Downdetector for outages and very long call hold times.
In contrast, I know they are going above and beyond.
Advice for ISPs as Demand Increases
Telecom Italia is seeing a 90% increase in Internet traffic since the lockdown started in Italy. Operators in the US will see that level as stay-at-home orders have become more widespread. I’m delighted that over 700 companies have signed up to the FCC’s Keep Americans Connected Pledge that requires the waiver of late fees and agreement not to disconnect people, while also opening hotspots. Many providers have removed data caps and increased speeds for their customers.
While these initiatives are fantastic, my advice to ISPs in this moment of crisis is to concentrate on the people element as much as the connectivity. This pandemic is a wake-up call to rethink how we give customers the answers they require at the moment of their need, making the call to a contact center the exception, not the rule. The vast majority of people would like to be able to solve issues themselves without having to make that call, and while self-serve solutions are improving, they have a long way to go.
"The vast majority of people would like to be able to solve issues themselves without having to make that call, and while self-serve solutions are improving, they have a long way to go"
Customer self-support must be designed to meet the requirements of everyone, to cater for our different technical abilities. This should be combined with information on the customers’ home context (network, devices, and services) to proactively suggest resolutions. That SmartHomeManager app has clearly access to some great diagnostics data on the home and has some cool features. But that is just the start. If digital support channels are to become a viable alternative to making the phone call to Support, then they’ve got to be effective and easier to use for Everybody.
For more information on how Sweepr is ushering in the future of self-service support with technology, contact Philip Brennan at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article is part of a mini-series called ‘Everybody's at home’, exploring how we experience our connected homes. Read previous articles 'Remotely Together', 'Everyone's home. What next?', and 'Avoiding Tech as well as People'.