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SKT & Twin Valley Collaborate to Improve Customer Experience

June 9, 2021

It’s been about two months since Twin Valley Management, Inc., officially acquired SKT, bringing together the two largest family-owned broadband and communications companies in Kansas. The management teams have begun collaborating on projects, working together to respond to the high customer demand for broadband and streaming services, which has only been fueled by the pandemic.

“SKT customers are Twin Valley customers now, and vice versa,” President & CEO Ben Foster said. “Moving forward with that mindset, we have an opportunity to redistribute the workload and improve upon our already excellent customer service. Cross training employees will only lead to a stronger organization and better customer experience.”

Transitioning from IPTV to Streaming

Twin Valley’s Shellee Frederick, Lead Customer Service Representative, and Josh “Pete” Peterson, Customer Sales and Service Manager, met with Jill McMillan, SKT’s Customer Service Manager, to review processes and determine opportunities for collaboration.

One of the most immediate needs was Twin Valley’s transition from IPTV to a streaming service, which has resulted in a high call volume. Customers need assistance installing the streaming service and Firesticks and learning how to use the new platform, which can be time consuming. They’ve been fielding more calls than they can possibly handle.

SKT customer service representatives had been through a similar change when the company transitioned from its traditional cable TV service to a (now discontinued) streaming platform in 2019. That experience would allow them to take calls from Twin Valley streaming customers without jumping through too many hoops.

“When I shared with our customer service team that the TVT CSRs were going through a similar transition to our own with TV service, they all empathized and couldn’t wait to jump in and start taking calls,” Jill said.

In early May, Shellee and Jill worked together to coordinate and create processes to ensure a seamless customer experience. Shellee provided training materials, updated the Twin Valley phone queue to incorporate SKT customer service representatives – allowing customers to be transferred to SKT for TV help, and created a shared Microsoft Teams channel to improve communication between everyone involved.

“With SKT’s team fielding our TV support calls, that’s freed us up to handle other calls that require access to our database,” Shellee said. “Overall, we’ve been working well together while providing better customer service.”

Next, Shellee is working on giving SKT staff access to the Twin Valley billing system, which will allow for additional cross training and reduced call wait times. The two teams working together as one has been a big win for both employees and customers, and they will continue to build upon that success.

Pictured (l to r): Josh “Pete” Peterson, Twin Valley Customer Sales and Service Manager; Shellee Frederick, Twin Valley Lead Customer Service Representative; Jill McMillan, SKT Customer Service Manager

Improving New Service Installation Times

Twin Valley received a $1.3 million Connectivity Emergency Response Grant (CERG) to provide broadband to underserved communities, including Abilene, Chapman, Junction City, Keats, Minneapolis, and Solomon. Part of the grant, combined with matching Twin Valley funds, was used to deploy seven towers for Fixed Wireless service, and technicians are working to connect new customers in four of those communities. With the volume of interested customers in the area in addition to their regular workload, it created a backlog for Wireless installations.

SKT has a similar Fixed Wireless system in its Clearwater exchange, and Service Technicians Brett Blake and Cole Richardson were trained by TVT Senior OSP Technician Jake Young to assist with installations. Brett and Cole began working in Twin Valley’s service areas this week, and there are plans to train other SKT technicians going forward.

“We’re looking forward to having extra sets of hands to help get new customers connected,” TVT Network Operations Manager Larry “Butch” Mitchell said. “We’ll continue adding to their training in other areas, which will be a great asset as we work to reduce our install and trouble response times.”

Pictured (l to r): Brett Blake, SKT Service Technician; Jake Young, Twin Valley Senior OSP Technician; Cole Richardson, SKT Service Technician