By Matthew Mimnaugh, account management manager, Pavlov Media
Account management, or the work to ensure repeat business and expand each client relationship, requires more than simply satisfying customers. For Internet service providers (ISPs) to the multifamily industry this means helping property managers succeed by maximizing their residents’ connectivity. Excellent Internet service leads to positive property reviews and renewed leases. Property ownership and management win.
Providers that serve landlords best not only respond to service requests, but also employ a deductive approach to diagnose root problems, discover unreported deficiencies and take preemptive actions that allow smooth property operations.
Below is an overview of best practices for account management and a discussion of Pavlov Media’s data analysis and behavioral pattern recognition tools we’ve developed to uncover trends and issues that can threaten connectivity and, ultimately, property performance.
Giving housing managers and their residents access to a technology support team is a standard practice for many ISPs. Typically, a request generates a service ticket, and a team member responds to gather basic information before walking the customer through a scripted trouble-shooting tree to either solve the problem or elevate the ticket for more advanced assistance.
This approach can be highly effective at resolving the majority of connectivity issues that multi-unit housing residents encounter. Pavlov Media’s tier 1 support team closes out about 90 percent of service tickets without requiring additional assistance. That enables second-tier responders to focus on the more problematic or unusual challenges, which may require an engineer or on-site service visit.
Some ISPs stand out from the competition by employing in-house experts ready to tackle customer queries the intake team is unable to resolve. At Pavlov Media’s Network Operations Center, team members can call on network engineers and other specialists if needed to investigate problems and determine appropriate remedies.
Customers may describe vague symptoms such as experiencing “spotty Internet,” akin to a patient visiting an emergency room to treat an injured ankle. To follow the metaphor further, the examining physician must ask questions and administer tests to determine whether the ankle is broken or sprained.
Likewise, network operations team members will invite the customer into a diagnostic examination of their issue. Digging deeper into a “spotty Internet” connection, a quick, remote test will show whether the unit is receiving a clear signal. Questioning the resident and talking them through simple tests will often reveal the problem without necessitating a site visit. In many cases, the resident’s wireless router is experiencing radio interference from nearby devices, which can be remedied with a simple adjustment by the resident or property manager.
In Pavlov Media’s nearly three decades of providing broadband connectivity and equipment to multifamily properties, however, we have learned that a purely request-driven technical assistance program can fall short of the goal of helping property managers succeed. Residents may not report minor problems with their Internet experience, but those that suffer ongoing issues in silence are less likely to rate their landlord positively or renew their lease.
To truly partner with property managers, an ISP must detect connectivity issues as they occur to minimize service interruptions. With the right tools and techniques, providers can recognize potential problems as they unfold and take preventive action.
Pavlov Media’s monitoring systems check every distribution device at each service location by the minute. If equipment stops responding, the technology immediately notifies a response team to investigate. Because a response begins in a matter of minutes, team members often reach out to correct a problem before the property manager is aware of a concern.
A good ISP keeps an eye on larger trends at its clients’ properties through its account management team, which serves as an advocate and primary contact for property managers, owners and other leaders at client companies.
Soliciting feedback on its Internet service through surveys and regular client communications keeps an Internet-provider’s finger on the pulse of property operations. The team supplements these direct responses with data analytics, primarily drawing from the ongoing flow of technical support requests.
Number crunching can show which properties or types of equipment are experiencing the most issues. An uptick in “tickets per bed,” or the ratio of service requests to the overall number of residents in a complex, is an important indicator for the team to look for underlying causes. Likewise, a concentration of similar tickets at a single property or building can be a red flag of a larger conundrum for the team to track down.
In practice, much of the team’s work is detecting clues and clearing up mysteries in network connectivity. When did the problems start? What can the management recall about construction activity, severe weather, natural disasters or other unusual events occurring around that time?
In some cases, the team can piece together an evidence trail connecting intermittent power issues to a past fire or flood that exposed electrical outlets in a property’s residential units to water and a subsequent corrosion buildup. In other cases, nearby or on-site construction may be to blame.
Whatever the issue, account management should work with the client to decide the best response and then provide regular progress reports during any repairs. A key is to understand the property manager’s priorities and put those objectives at the heart of the team’s operations.
Even when an issue is beyond the ISP’s influence to fix, such as a municipal power outage, the account management team can make the property manager’s job easier by identifying the issue and helping the client provide residents with useful information about what to expect and how they will be affected.
Behavioral analysis enables an account management group to anticipate many of the challenges a property manager will encounter. The team uses this knowledge to help clients prepare and to mitigate adverse effects of identified trends on the property’s data connectivity and overall operation.
Behavioral issues may relate to usage, such as when residents connect personal routers backwards. In the rush of move-in day at a student housing community, residents may log their phones into the central lobby’s Wi-Fi and continue to use that distant connection throughout the complex, unaware that there is a stronger network available within their unit.
Pavlov Media shares some of these trend-related insights through Seasonal Care Letters, which clients can pass on to residents or incorporate into their own newsletters or websites to educate renters. A winter letter might remind residents returning from the holidays (with new electronics in tow) to register their devices before logging them onto the property’s network, for example.
Giving the property manager information, context and expectations they can share with residents is a key to helping them succeed. And client success is an essential ingredient in account management.
Over time, the ISPs that landlords trust to continue serving their communities will be those that not only provide excellent connectivity and technical support, but also provide the information those managers need to maintain their residents’ goodwill and approval.
— This article was written in conjunction with Pavlov Media, a content partner of REBusinessOnline. For more information on Pavlov Media, click here.