If there’s one thing everyone in the industry can agree on, it’s that customer care is of the highest priorities. And when it comes to the day-to-day, it more often than not falls to frontline employees to maintain peak levels of customer satisfaction through installations and service calls.
For more than fifty years, NCTI has partnered with cable and broadband providers alike to offer certification programs and courses for customer service representatives, technicians and the like. Through this, NCTI believes providers can build customer loyalty through positive contact with frontline employees.
“Historically, training has been seen as discretionary spending and, especially with the tight job market that exists right now, it’s really more of an investment and truly has to be viewed that way,” NCTI president and CEO Stacey Slaughter says.
The frontline employees carry not only their brands, but the entire industry on their backs. And with the force of social media, it’s more important than ever before to make sure that a customer is having positive interactions with the technician when they’re in the home.
“Those individuals do represent all of us and we make sure that they are empowered and we provide them with resources and support,” Slaughter says. “At the end of the day, if they’re doing their job well and they’re feeling good, that’s going to impact the business results not only in customer retention, but also in that the employee will stick with the company longer.”
NCTI made a decision four years ago to lean more heavily into its customer feedback loop, using it as a tool to guide what certifications and classes would need to be developed next. The first step was making sure that students were filling out course surveys when moving through a curriculum. Those surveys are reviewed each week, and a team works to implement changes and respond to questions posed by students.
“Our entire leadership team is reviewing those because it’s important for us to know what our customers and students are saying in a real-time basis,” Slaughter says.
Along with those surveys, NCTI has a presence at industry events like ACA Connects Summit and always makes the time to have face-to-face conversations with its customers.
“It doesn’t always have to be a sales call,” Slaughter explains. “It’s building that healthy relationship and listening to what our customers are saying about what is coming down the road for their employees—what are their employees going to need information, content and training on.”
Over the past year, NCTI has added three certification programs to its lineup based on customer requests. Its Telecom Specialist certification, launched in late February, is designed for those performing installations and supporting legacy subscriber services in rural communities.
Some of its latest courses have been borne out of the convergence of traditional telcos and cable broadband operators. As crossover between providers becomes more frequent, NCTI has been open to hearing how it can adjust its programming to better serve frontline technicians. After hearing feedback that the vernacular used in the curriculum was making it difficult for technicians with a telco background to progress, NCTI made adjustments to lower those barriers.
“It’s us being able to take what we have and expand,” Slaughter says. “As the industries continue to converge and as technicians hop from one industry to the other, the ability to help bridge that gap is growing ever more needed for those employees. They have a broader base of knowledge across the verticals within the industry.”
– Sara Winegardner