Independent Social Media Maverick Award

Grande Communications

You never know. Grande Communications joined the social media revolution a few years ago to engage customers, raise brand awareness and advocacy, assist customer care and spread the word about its services for residential and business customers in Texas. Social media manager Shana Ogg is a master at tailoring conversational and personal messages to fit Grande’s six social media platforms. Grande “has written the book on how to serve and inform 21st-century consumers… with informative communications… that are informal enough to bring a smile to all,” says ACA chief Matt Polka, a self-confessed social media addict.

But then came Memorial Day weekend 2015 and the floods, specifically those brought by Tropical Storm Bill. “Grande’s call center and headquarters are located on two-stories. Good thing, because the entire first floor call center was flooded,” says ACA EVP & Chief of Staff Rob Shema. Waters were more than 43 feet high in some parts of San Marcos, the central Texas city of 55K where Grande is based. Call center operations moved to another location and were up the next day. “The vast majority” of Grande’s customers avoided loss of service, and after 48 hours “99% of our customers had all their services,” says Peter Drozdoff, VP of marketing. Still, the first 24 hours were difficult, with pockets in San Marcos and adjacent areas “particularly tough,” he adds. Things have yet to return to normal for some San Marcos citizens. As we write this in mid June, stories about recovery efforts abound. FEMA has been called in and more than a thousand area residents have signed up for relief.  Beyond power outages, Grande services were hit when a fiber optic cable fell into the swollen Colorado River. “We used a drone to fly fishing line across the river and dragged our fiber back over, set up new poles and service was restored.”

When Bill arrived, social media dispensed adding the fun commercials Grande is known for to YouTube. Also delayed were posts about events, ticket giveaways and reminders about the latest HBO series. Instead Grande’s social media reached out to its 160K+ residential subs for another reason. Every few hours Grande issued progress reports, “talking about the specific areas that were out, what we were doing about it, what we thought would happen and when we would get back to them with the next update,” Drozdoff says. The frequency of the posts mirrored the activity of Grande’s senior management team, which met every few hours that first day, beginning at 6am, Sunday, May 24.The reaction was overwhelmingly positive. Grande customers became town criers in their neighborhoods, some of which literally were in the dark. “Our customers thanked us repeatedly and told us they were supplying our information to neighbors since their providers weren’t keeping them apprised,” he says.

Ogg mentions Grande’s mission statement guides her content. The statement: “We take care of our customers. We take care of each other. And we say what we’re going to do. And we have fun.” Grande’s customers can attest to that.
Seth Arenstein


Fast Facts

– Founded in 1999, Grande offers triple-play services to San Antonio, Austin, Dallas, San Marcos, Waco, Corpus Christi, Midland and Odessa, Texas. It has 650 employees.

-Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are Grande’s most active sites.

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