Thursday, March 26, 2015

Is Service in Your Culture?

Often I hear companies tell me that it is their service that separates them from the pack. Many point at the lack of service from the Duopoly. All that tells me is that the bar is so low for customer service.

"While it’s not news to customers that a majority of organizations don’t “get it” when it comes to customer service, it may be news to the companies themselves. After all, they’ve invested money in customer support software, they’ve hired teams of agents and hand-picked a manager. They’ve even included the fact that “customer service is their number one priority” in all their marketing materials. But customers are still complaining. So what gives?" [ccc]

"Companies don't care about you. The question, then, is this institution owned and organized and run by people who will allow the people who work there to care?" That is a Culture Question. Rackspace, Zappos, Nordstrom are a few who do have a culture of service.

"A recent report issued by Forbes Insights and commissioned by Oracle found that 62 percent of companies still fail to grasp the full importance and impact customer service can have when it is an organization-wide strategic goal, according to a recent SMBWorld Asia editorial." [ccc]

"Customer service is difficult, expensive and unpredictable." [Seth]

"Customer service succeeds when it accomplishes what the organization sets out to accomplish." [Seth] That is if you have a culture of service wrapped around strategic goals for service.

One use of customer service:

"To create a significant competitive advantage by engaging with customers in a way that others can't or won't." [Seth] I think this is what many think they do, but there are ways to do this that turn your customers into Raving Fans, Brand Ambassadors, referral agents and your churn goes to zero, your ARPU goes up, and your customer acquisition cost declines.

"Customer service, like everything an effective organization does, changes people. Announce the change you seek, then invest appropriately, in a system that is likely to actually produce the outcomes you just said you wanted." [Seth]

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Are You Complying?

Have you complied?

FCC Form 477 filings for data as of December 31, 2014 are due March 1, 2015.

The FCC is "reminding telecommunications service providers, VoIP providers and advanced communications service (“ACS”) providers and equipment manufacturers of their obligation to maintain records of their efforts to implement accessibility requirements, and to annual certify their record-keeping efforts. The April 1, 2015 filing will certify to compliance during 2014."[law monitor]

The FCC’s New Disabilities Access Requirements: What Advanced Communications Service Providers Need to Know Now (Before It’s Too Late) "to ensure that people with disabilities have access to advanced communications services ("ACS")." [kelleydrye]

Who has to comply? Section 716 of the CVAA extends new accessibility requirements to:

Providers of non-interconnected VoIP service (e.g., one-way VoIP)

Providers of electronic messaging service (text, IM)

Providers of interoperable video conferencing service

What has to be done?

There are three separate components to what has to be done to comply: (1) substantive accessibility and useability of services and products requirements, (2) record-keeping requirements and (3) an annual certification filing requirement.

The certification can be completed online in the FCC’s Record-keeping Compliance Certification and Contact Information Registry.

More info HERE and HERE.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

A Million Feet of Fiber

This is what a million feet of fiber optic cable looks like! from Dane, CEO of Sonic

Monday, March 23, 2015

Title II Musings

Here's why Verizon should be the first to embrace Title II: Forbes. Being a plumber or dumb pipe is what VZ (and most ISPs do, despite fighting it). "But you have a chance right now to lead the way to wireless device agnosticism. Whether you lead or follow, per-device fees are on their way to obsolescence. Hardware is superseding your present device restrictions with the ability to tether devices." What it really comes down to is: Do you know what business you are in? "You currently sell all those iPhones and Android phones and mobile WiFi hotspots because you know people will use them to purchase and use your data pipelines. You don’t care about the phone sales. You care about the data sales."

Trade groups will take the lead in suing the FCC over Title II, so that the Big 3 - ATT, VZ, Comcast - don't have to look like the evil axis that they are.

AT&T is using the Title II rules it hates to get millions in refunds via ARS.

Facebook's market cap is bigger than VZ!!! Interesting view of the numbers. FB has little debt; VZ has $110.5 billion in long-term debt on $127 billion in annual revenue.

AT&T Has to Pay $40 Million Because 18 lawyers didn't read the docket [source]

Leadership and Culture

A couple of good reads about leadership and Culture.

5 Lessons Learned at SoundCloud - an article about culture and startups. Culture = values + people + engagement + connection

leadership reminders. Two I liked included: "it helps to see yourself through the eyes of those who have opted to believe in you." and "Real leaders show people how great they are."

"Want to fix problem employees? Make sure the ‘problem’ is not their boss.” via @tom_peters

Books on Leadership

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

SMS Options

Much discussion today on a couple of lists about SMS enabled DIDs.

Frontier Text-to-Landline Service via Zipwhip.

Business Texter gives an option for SMS for businesses that uses an AI to respond to customers' questions - without the landline.

Voxox (which I rep) has two way SMS via SMPP or our REST API using long code, shared short code, or dedicated short code. Voxox also have a smartphone and desktop app that does calling, sms, fax, and chat, which is available to operators for re-branding.

Others mentioned: can use your real office phone number to send and receive texts. Makes for neat advertising., Twilio, Clickatell, VZ uses TeleMessage and

Red sends texts from Outlook

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Nobody Buys Gigabit

Chattanooga ECB sells Gigabit broadband. Less than 25 customers buy it. Google Fiber sells more Gigabit because of how it is priced ($70) and because if you want TV it only comes with Gigabit. One survey suggests 75% of homes passed by Google take the service. FiOS top speed is 500x100 for $370 per month. AT&T and Google offer Gigabit for $70. AT&T offers you some privacy for $15 extra per month.

"CenturyLink this week proclaimed that they haven't had a whole lot of interest in the company's 1 Gbps offering since it was launched back in 2013.... has helped sell slower tiers. "No one takes a gig service," CenturyLink CFO Stewart Ewing told attendees of the Deutsche Bank Media, Internet & Telcom Conference in Florida this week." [DSLReports]

"In Omaha, CenturyLink sells the 1-Gig product for $79.95 monthly to subscribers that order a bundle that includes Prism TV. It charges Prism customers $49.95 monthly for a 100 Mbps broadband connection, and $29.95 monthly for its 40 Mbps tier." [source]

I would buy Gigabit for sub-$100. I pay about $60+ for my 30x2. I guess it depends how many people work from home -- and how digital their life is on the speeds they buy. Also, maybe no one NEEDS Gigabit yet.

I Was Wondering What Happened to

I was wondering what happened to these brands. Trinsic used to be Z-Tel until UNE-P went away. Z-Tel disappeared along with the revenue to be renamed as Trinsic before filing BK. "On March 26, 2007, Matrix Telecom, through its parent company Platinum Equity," acquired the assets of Trinsic. Z-Tel IPO'ed in 1999 for $102M from its headquarters in Tampa. "On March 16, 2010, Matrix announced it would acquire the customers and substantially all the assets of Excel Telecommunications." [wiki] In 2013, Impact telecom acquired Matrix Telecom Inc and AmericaTel (which owned Startec). Now all under 1 umbrella.

Monday, March 09, 2015

It is Monday

It is Monday. Salespeople are dragging into the office for another week of smiling and dialing. I say this often but sales has changed. It is mainly inbound and mainly through search. So if you don't have a content marketing strategy, you are not even in the conversation. Buyers are informed via the Internet and social networks. Prices are transparent too. By the time a customer reaches out to you, they are almost done with the purchasing process.

One thing to keep in mind is that the transition from server to cloud is one that is triggered. Rarely are businesses waking up and saying let's transition to cloud today. There has to be a trigger - something breaks or a move or some event (new investor, invigorated owner, something). At that time, your company, your brand, your service or at least your salesperson better be top of mind - salient.

Marketing has many parts: branding, PR, advertising, et al. The big ones today are website/online marketing, content, social, email and drip marketing. That is a lot to handle. And you are saying: Pffft, he's crazy. It's fine. We are still growing. Okay. Maybe you don't need it YET.

Salespeople should be learning too. Training of some kind -- or at the least reading. Here are a couple of good reads:

Gitomer's Sales Caffeine
Seth Godin's blog

Tom Peters' book list.

Books to boost your Creativity, an ingredient in sales and innovation.