Sanders and Grosz: Community Connectivity — Great Connection Is More Than Bandwidth

From left: Bruce Sanders, chief marketing officer, and Robert Grosz, chief revenue officer, for Elauwit. From left: Bruce Sanders, chief marketing officer, and Robert Grosz, chief revenue officer, for Elauwit.

Owners and developers who make decisions about the connectivity infrastructure and service for a community should care more about the results and outputs of their network, as opposed to the inputs that make it up.

When the subject of internet connectivity and telecom service arises in the student housing world, most discussion seems to center around bandwidth. That could logically lead to a belief that communities with the most bandwidth are providing the best service to owners and their residents.

Yet that logic overlooks what owners and residents say they value most:

  • Ongoing value
  • Revenue opportunities
  • Memorable experiences
  • Fast and dependable fulfillment
  • Real-time data
  • Personalized service

Customers Tell the Story

How do we know this? Because it’s exactly what owners and residents tell those who objectively measure the subject. Temkin Ratings evaluate industries based on feedback collected from consumers, with a goal of amplifying the consumer voice. Temkin is the leading aggregator of customer ratings and surveys in the U.S. and Europe.

The 2016 Temkin Experience Ratings ranks the customer experience of 294 companies across 20 industries based on a survey of 10,000 U.S. consumers.

Internet and TV service providers (represented by the major cable companies) receive the lowest overall customer experience scores. Temkin’s Net Promoter Scores for loyalty also place them at the absolute bottom, even below healthcare. These providers have been at the bottom of the ratings for the past four years, hitting an all-time low in 2016.

One would think those internet service providers best positioned to provide high bandwidth would score well. But again, logic fails. The poster child for poor customer experience across all industries is not only the lowest-scoring internet and TV service provider, but also one of the lowest-scoring companies in the entire ratings — ranking 284th of 294 companies measured. No company in telecom receives anything above a “poor” rating.

“Internet and TV service providers are awful to consumers. The lack of competition continues to fuel this bad experience epidemic,” states Bruce Temkin, managing partner of Temkin Group.

The Temkin benchmarks are not alone. The American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) for 2016 finds internet service providers are the lowest among all 43 industries covered, despite increasing customer reliance on connectivity.

Insights gleaned from these and other surveys make one thing crystal clear: residents require much more than high-speed internet. Critical elements of the customer experience include:

  • Reliability from interruptions/outages
  • Peak-hour performance
  • Video streaming
  • Service provider courtesy and helpfulness
  • Service provider transaction speed

What We Don’t Measure, We Don’t Improve

To assure you aren’t delivering an inferior experience to your residents, your service provider should provide the following information and encourage you to review it with them annually:

  • How many support calls do your residents make to the provider?
  • What is the average call center answer time (for year-to-date, but also for the “turn” season in student housing)?
  • How quickly are resident issues resolved?
  • What is the “resident satisfaction score” for issues addressed?
  • For the prior year, how many new community activations were ontime or ahead-of-time, versus those that weren’t?
  • For the prior year, how many bandwidth circuits were delivered on-time for community activations, versus those that were late?

You want your connectivity partner to continuously be monitoring and reporting key metrics, as well as investing in delivering results that make a difference to your resident experience. That means a dual focus: (1) employee engagement and customer service training across every operational function; (2) upgrading and adapting management tools for customers, communities and the Internet of Things (IoT) world.

Turn Network Connectivity into Opportunity

Providing connectivity in bulk not only allows residents to enjoy a better customer experience, but it opens the door for a “smarter” community. A skilled and aware connectivity provider will help you “digitize” the property by connecting critical building systems such as energy management, leak detection, camera monitoring, water irrigation controls, asset tracking and more. An investment in great community-wide internet service with a forward-thinking provider will produce excellent long-term return on your investment.

A smart community drives smart outcomes. Your connectivity can collect asset data and resident data across the community. You can manage facility and workforce operations more efficiently with predictive analytics. Just imagine how an automated work order can initiate action before a light bulb fails, before an air conditioning unit needs repair.

The infrastructure of your community should be as hard working as you are.

Securing enough bandwidth is no longer the number one priority for progressive owners and managers. Instead, managing the network, which grows in complexity each day, is both the biggest challenge and the biggest opportunity. With the availability of bandwidth increasing, and its price going down, monitoring and managing data has a much higher priority.

The time has passed when you can treat your network as a commodity. Equally, the time has passed when you can allow your service provider to be someone less than a business partner dedicated to your success and your resident satisfaction.

— Bruce A. Sanders is chief marketing officer and Robert Grosz is chief revenue officer for Elauwit. For more on Elauwit, visit http://elauwit.com

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