Innovative Retail Technologies

SEP-OCT 2016

Innovative Retail Technologies (formerly Integrated Solutions For Retailers) is the premier source for innovative yet pragmatic technology solutions in the retail industry.

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Closing Points Customer Service And The Repercussions Of Ignorance I live in a rural area of Northwest Pennsylvania. Since most of our readers don't live in a rural area of Northwest Pennsylvania (or in a rural area anywhere, for that mat- ter), allow me a moment to describe how communications infrastructure underserved we country folk have been for the past, oh, seemingly forever. Up until July 18, 2016, if you wanted to watch Mad Men, championship boxing, or an on-demand movie at my house, you'd have to do it via satellite television and only when it wasn't snowing or raining. Worse, your high-speed Internet was limited to DSL over a copper wire that was strung up through the poles in the 1940s. The communications company that's "served" our area advertised 25 Mbps over that antique line. Of course, not even we country bumpkins fell for it, but we bought it anyway. With no competition, we had no choice. Honest to God, I've been muddling by with av- erage download speeds under 1 Mbps right up until the summer of 2016. DVR? Netflix? Forget it. Telephone call quality was also greatly impacted by rain, particularly wind-driven rain. The winds of March made it nearly impossible to get ahold of Ginny down at the switchboard in town and ask her to place a call to my mom. There are about 500 households and 1,400 people living in my town- ship, which covers about 40 square miles. Not a very important demo- graphic to a large regional commu- nications network, but man, have we been loud. Shortly after I moved here some 14 years ago, I realized that complaining to (and about) the local office of our communications company is one of the township's favorite collec- tive activities. I was eager to join the bandwagon. We've been campaigning, lobbying, writing, facebooking, tweet- ing (well, a few of us have been tweet- ing), and calling consistently for years on end. We've been polite, we've been obnoxious, we've been respectful, and we've been angry, but we've been ignored all these years. There was no other game in town, after all. They've had us pinned. Then one lazy Tuesday afternoon in June, I walked out to my mailbox and saw something that took my breath away. It was parked about 50 yards down the road from me. A white van surrounded by men in red hard hats. They were eyeballing telephone poles and taking notes. The side of the van was emblazoned with the Armstrong One Wire logo. Fiber. It was coming. Over the course of the next month, the men in the red hard hats became accustomed to grown men in Richmond Township dropping mail in the road and sprinting toward them like they'd just seen gold at the end of a rainbow. Armstrong was made available to 255 households in my rural neck of the woods this past July. My local rep told me that within two weeks of the service coming online, 254 of them had ditched the iron fist of the ignorant and signed up with the new company. In the information age, it's easy to listen to your customers. Even those customers who are information infra- structure challenged, like we were for so long. The thing is, it's equally easy for your competition to listen to what your customers are saying about you. The communications company that's been milking my neighbors and me for so long wasn't listening. Its competi- tion was, which is why Armstrong was able to lay some cable and steal 99.6 percent of our little market in fewer than two weeks. BY MATT PILLAR SENIOR EXECUTIVE EDITOR @mattpillar linkedin.com/in/matthewpillar Sept-Oct 2016 34 In the information age, it's easy to listen to your customers .... It's equally easy for your competition to listen to what your customers are saying about you.

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