As Customer Service Manager for GVEC in South Central Texas, Jeff Bowles, has seen it all: weather outages, equipment failures, and customers just plain confused or concerned about the services they have and how they’re supposed to work. Bowles and his team of ﬁfty, spread across ﬁve offices, are responsible for supporting all products and services offered by GVEC, including electrical service and “beyond the meter” services such as high-speed internet, HVAC, and solar.
While electrical service issues make up the vast majority of calls – about 75 percent in any given week – those calls tend to be more routine and less urgent. However, when it comes to internet services, the complexity increases, troubleshooting becomes more critical, and urgency ramps up. Customers need their internet, and they need it now. “One thing we’ve discovered over the years is that people are way more willing to sit in the dark, than they are to sit without internet,” Bowles said. “They need the internet for work, school, entertainment, security, and much more. We’ve got to be available for them 24×7.”
During normal weekday business hours, GVEC team members handle most incoming support calls. But for after-hours, weekends, holidays, and daytime emergency overﬂ ow calls, GVEC depends on ISPN for 24×7 internet help desk and customer support services. “It’s difficult and expensive to keep a customer support team on duty round the clock for a company our size,” Bowles said. “ISPN is seamless, responsive, and a great value compared to us having to recruit, train, manage, and pay overtime to our own people. It’s a better way and a strong business case as well.”
GVEC isn’t new to internet services. The Cooperative invested early, bringing its
ﬁrst dial-up internet services to market in 1998. Since then, it has steadily expanded coverage, speed, and reliability, and for many years, provided help and support only during regular business hours. “We tried to do it ourselves by extending our business hours and staffing up, but we couldn’t adequately meet customer expectations for access and quality,” Bowles said. “We’re up against well-established industry giants like Spectrum and AT&T, so we had to do something. ISPN allows us to compete on that level – and win.” The ISPN relationship also gives GVEC additional ﬂexibility and capacity when natural disasters or widespread power outages hit. “If we have a storm or major weather emergency affecting our electric service customers, we can send all internet services calls, including during regular business hours, to ISPN,” Bowles said. “Our electricity support experts are freed up to focus on those calls, and ISPN has the people and systems in place to handle the increased volume anytime.”
When GVEC began working with ISPN on outsourced internet help desk and customer support ﬁve years ago, high-speed internet subscribers totaled around 10,000. Bowles says subscribers now number more than 21,000.
“We’re making new ﬁber and wireless infrastructure investments to drive our subscriber growth by 10 to 15 percent every year going forward,” Bowles said. “And ISPN gives us the capacity and peace of mind to grow without overwhelming our service and support teams, plus we’re also covered in emergencies.”
The quality of connectivity, service, and support has been empirically proven through randomized, third-party marketplace surveys. GVEC Internet was ranked #1 in 22 areas of the American Customer Satisfaction Index for a variety of customer experience metrics, including aspects of quality, reliability, speeds, and service consistency.*
“We’ve always had the mindset that we have to constantly prove ourselves and earn the business of our customers,” Bowles said. “ISPN helps us deliver on this goal of being the preferred provider in our markets, and we’ve seen the results in growth, satisfaction, teamwork, and service. It’s good for our members, our employees, and the communities we serve throughout South Central Texas.”
In addition to providing electricity and other “beyond the meter” home solutions, GVEC also provides high-speed ﬁber and wireless services to residents and businesses across a service area of 3,500 square miles in South Central Texas.
ISPN provides 24x7 Internet Help Desk and Customer Service Support to GVEC for after-hours, weekend, holiday, and emergency overﬂow service and support calls.
In the ﬁve years since partnering with ISPN for Internet Help Desk and Customer Support, GVEC has grown its high-speed internet subscriber count to more than 21,000 (up from about 10,000) without the high expenses of recruiting, training, and overtime pay. GVEC has also been recognized as the #1 rated internet service provider in its service area.