Part II: Turning up the bandwidth on service quality

FierceTelecom: Tell me about what you're announcing here at the show?
Mahoney: Starting on Thursday we announced the new brand and what we stand for in terms of being among the great service providers, on Monday we backed that up with two best in class awards from Atlantic-ACM, in terms of provisioning and billing. One of the things we say about our company is we're very fast, very responsive, so really for provisioning, for billing, that really tie into it. Then to build on the story today we announced our "1 Gig in 1 Day," and that's our ability to turn up bandwidth very quickly.

We have the who's who of customers. We have wireless carriers, we have financial services customers, and those two segments specifically have kind of openness in their bandwidth requirements, and they look to service providers like Sidera in their time of need to say, turn up bandwidth quickly for us. So that plays to our strengths, and also that makes a strong statement where we're taking this company.

Sidera customer serviceSicoli: It's very simple--we have the best network and we have the best people, so we should never lose wherever we provide service. It's a challenge to the team to deliver on that goal. We are the best, so there's no reason why customers that we serve shouldn't see it that way. Clearly in many respects they do see us that way; look at the award, look at the repeat business that we get. Seventy percent of our sales in a given month come from our existing customers, and they buy many months more than that, so it's very much a customer relationship business that we're in and we deliver on that as evidenced by the fact that we've grown all these large customers. They're buying a lot more than just what they get from us, and I think we should get a bigger share of that pie by telling our story and being out there and delivering every single time we get the chance.

FierceTelecom: Tell me more about the provisioning and billing side? What are some challenges you see coming up in this area?

Mahoney: Because of the economy there's been tremendous pressure on the bottom lines for our customers, so it's important that they have a bill that they understand, that they know what they're paying for, that it's timely. So we introduced a portal last year so that customers can go in when they want to see their bill and be able to pull it down and manipulate it. So having a good amount of (clarity) in a bill, with the experience that they perhaps have had with other providers, where they get this phone book of charges that they can't make heads or tails of. We pride ourselves on a very simple, very straightforward billing.

Sidera provisioningThen in terms of provisioning, we're a very high-touch organization. So we hold our customers' hands throughout the process--we acknowledge the order, we assign a project manager who's with that customer until they accept the service. It's a person, it's not a call center, who will work throughout the process with them, and we give them a repeat-'here's the status'--we keep them up to date on it. Because as in any situation where you're turning up service you can run into situations, and what we've found is, giving them the timely information, giving the status on what we're going to do about it so that they can shine to their bosses and their stakeholders is critical. And they don't get that experience with every provider.

Sicoli: I think the bottom line is the people. Everybody has billing tools and processes and process flows and everything they're supposed to do to eliminate errors. There's no IVR here, there's no call center, you're talking to the person that sold it to you, and you're talking to the person that manages your account. The thing that I like most about our culture today is the customer is first and everybody has this unwavering drive to get what the customer needs when they need it, period. So if there is ever an issue, because inevitably nobody's perfect, we get it fixed faster than anybody else and make sure it doesn't happen again. And that's the human element. We're small enough that we can do that. But even some other small companies don't do that. It's really hard to create that culture if you don't have it already, and thankfully we have it.

Mahoney: It seems like a very simple, straightforward statement, but every interaction, every day, it can be very challenging if you don't have that culture.

Sicoli: People just understand it. The customer needs it--drop everything and get it done.

Part II: Turning up the bandwidth on service quality