The last mile is where all the prior planning for a fiber project can result in a smooth, low-hassle high speed internet installation with a great end-user experience. Your last mile partner plays a key role that can be the difference between success and failure as you deliver the service to your end user. Here are some areas that make the biggest difference in the ultimate success of a fiber project.
1. They Have Crews Available Where and When Needed
Large-scale fiber projects move at a quick pace, as do decisions on where and when to commence a specific fiber install. Requirements are always changing based on demand and upstream project needs. This requires a flexible last mile workforce. Many providers use multiple local vendors to ensure timely project completion, but this can often lead to varying quality levels and constant onboarding of new vendors, getting them aligned with your systems and processes. The other model is using a single partner who can scale up and down quickly and move to a new location on demand. This partner must often have a percentage of crews that are willing and able to quickly mobilize outside a core market. They also need to have excess capacity built in, to ensure existing projects are not jeopardized. This is often the preferable approach and ensures more consistent quality as well as a positive customer experience. The main challenge is finding a partner who can effectively work this model.
2. They Meet Project Deadlines
Missing a deadline is never a small issue. It can impact corporate projections. Most importantly, it almost always impacts the end user. Going into any project, it’s important to understand that situations arise that are out of anyone’s direct control; inclement weather being one example. Understanding this, teams must prepare for them, and have contingencies in place, to ensure they can still deliver on their deadlines.
3. They Provide Real-Time Updates
Communication is a pillar of any successful project. It’s important to work with a last mile partner who knows what to report, how to report it, and how often updates need to go out. Having a platform and process for providing updates ensures all parties stay informed.
4. They Are Professional
You run a professional operation. You expect your partners to, as well. Your customers expect the same. One bad experience can impact the public’s perception of your company. Several bad reviews can have a tremendous impact on your company’s reputation. Your last mile partner should bring professionalism to your customer installs. This means uniforms, vehicle signage, and customer service that all reflect the image you want your customers to experience. Consistent uniforms, well-maintained and well-equipped vehicles, clear and visible vehicle signage, all help your customers know the technician was sent by you and will do the job professionally. They should be patient, thorough and helpful technicians who guide the customer through every step of the process, leaving them satisfied and excited about their new service.
5. Their Technicians Show Up On Time
Projects run on schedules that are often interdependent. A delay in one part of the chain can have a cascading effect on other work down the chain. This is the same with your customer. They may plan their work schedule around an installation window. If your installer doesn’t show up on time it sours the relationship on day one.
6. They Provide End-User Education
The final step in the last mile process is ensuring the customer is up and operational. Getting the service to the customer’s home is half the job, while the other half is knowing how to effectively instruct the customer on using the services they have invested in. By the time your customer’s installation is complete, your customers should be able to operate their remote control, launch streaming services, as well as be satisfied with the speed of their broadband connection. Providing this personal touch effectively means fewer calls to customer service and ensures a positive customer experience.
7. They Are Collaborative
You have a model for your brand that you’ve invested heavily in as a company. Your last mile partner is an extension of your company. You’ll want them to follow your approach, your processes and standards, and not try to get you to do things their way for their own convenience. A good last mile partner knows you and your standards. They align their process with you. And they provide suggestions when warranted but aren’t trying to fight the system.
8. They Are Problem-Solvers
A problem-solving-focused partner views themselves as a trusted advisor. They attempt to solve the problem on their own and only bring you in when they need your support. They will notify you when there is an issue needing to be resolved, particularly when it is schedule-impacting or where it affects the customer experience. But they’ll keep you updated on their approach to solve the problem and the steps they’re taking. This prevents a partner issue from unnecessarily becoming your problem, derailing your other work.
9. They Are Fully Trained
A great last mile partner will invest time and money into properly training their crews on providing stellar customer service, adherence to safety protocols, as well as the technical skills required to do the job. They will understand that training increases proficiency, which in turn provides a high return on their training investment. Working with equipment on a customer’s premise can be delicate, so it’s important that the technicians are taught not only how to do the work, but also how to communicate effectively before and while work is being performed to avoid unpleasant surprises for your customer.
10. They Are Experienced
The value in having previous experience in completing projects of various sizes and specifications can’t be overstated. Hiring a group without experience in the planning, logistics, damage control, and reporting often leads to the client doing most of the legwork. It can be the difference between a successful, stress-free project and a disastrous start, that eventually leads to hiring an experienced group to take over and course-correct.
Having a last mile installation partner that aligns with your company’s values, processes, and ever-shifting project needs is critical to both your current project’s success as well as delivering a successful customer experience. This means working with a team who is professional, experienced, fully-trained, and available where and when you need them.
National OnDemand was founded on delivering exceptional service to the end user. We educate every customer, no matter how technically proficient, on how to manage their new service. Our Last Mile Division is our most customer-facing division in the company, and we take that responsibility humbly and seriously.
National OnDemand’s story is truly the story of all who have become a part of the company along the way. Starting with a merger in 2017 of two legacy companies that dated back to 1988, National OnDemand has grown quickly through providing exceptional results for our clients and customers, and by finding and partnering with companies who share our goals and commitment to excellence. Our strength has come from our ability to form a large national platform through partnerships, mergers and acquisitions from which we can deliver profitable results to clients across the nation in multiple sectors. In 2021 Blue Point Capital Partners made a platform investment in National OnDemand. Blue Point will support the continued organic and acquisitive growth and expansion of National OnDemand’s services and geographic footprint.