It’s been an odd year with COVID-19 influencing rural communications providers’ actions and nearly every business decision. Even with a vaccine on the way, it appears that the virus will affect our lives well into 2021. So NRTC member Nex-Tech in Hays, KS, recently hosted a webinar sharing many of the practices it has put in place to stay in touch with subscribers and meet their needs, even as the demand for broadband internet grows.
“The first thing that we need to do to keep our customers engaged virtually is to anticipate their needs,” said Megan Keiswetter (pictured), a representative with Nex-Tech’s Advertising Solutions department. “Let’s say you’re a boat store and I go and buy a boat from you. You probably assume I’m going to need life jackets and an anchor and may some water sports stuff. As a broadband provider, if people are doing remote learning or working from home, we anticipate they are going to need more broadband capabilities.”
She advised emphasis on marketing the various available levels of internet access with special attention to the higher-speed, lower-latency tiers for those who need it for work or business. “Be upfront with your pricing and your packaging and also be humble,” she said. In this era of high demand and customers upgrading to higher tiers, installation crews sometimes run behind. Clearly explain if delivery processes are a little behind will take additional days to deploy.
If needed, be sure to upgrade web sites so that they can handle customer orders for new service and make remote payments without requiring customers to make physical contact. Also look for ways to improve the web site so that it is easier for seniors or disabled people to use. “People who are deaf or blind can find apps that will read the text to them or make the text bigger or smaller,” she said.
“Our website have become the front door of our business to so many people. It already was the front door to me and my age group, now it is even more,” Keiswetter said.
Many of the tips she offered involved finding ways to stay in touch with customers through Facebook and other social media. Make it a goal to “humanize your company.”
For example, consider producing short promotional videos to post on social media sites and featuring employees from the company in them. “Putting real people with real faces and real voices in your videos helps people feel like they are doing business with someone instead of with a business,” she said. “During this pandemic, we had employees at our different [Nex-Tech] offices just shoot cell phone videos with a we’re-in-this-together type of feel. It was an emotional trigger … These are the people they [used to see] when they walked in your office.”
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