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Six Tips for Proactively Managing the Order/Installation Process

Things you may not have thought of...

Congratulations! You’ve sold something! Now you need to place an order, and everything will go as it should, right? Not so fast.

They say the devil is in the details, and I have seen the little things get overlooked on countless occasions to save time or simply to get an order pushed through. You may think the little things can be easily adjusted later, but this is rarely the case and can have an adverse effect on the customer’s experience. Most providers have their own process in place, requiring specific information for order fulfillment at various times in their process, and if you don’t provide that information at those specific times, you can bet that the order will be delayed in some way.

Although some of this information may not be “required” when the order is placed, it is still very important to include at the onset. To an outside party, these may seem like miniscule details, but the impact and time spent fixing issues downstream can be tremendous. Project Management is a series of expectation setting. Once an expectation is set and missed, good luck coming back from it. For example, let’s say that you forgot to mention up front that the address in which you are having service delivered is a newly constructed building. We would get several weeks into the order with a decent FOC date, and suddenly we’re adding 3+ months onto the timeline due to construction and permits.

Oops.

No one ever wants to go back to the customer for another signature or question or to say, “I made a mistake.” To help prevent these situations, it is imperative to get as much information as possible from the get-go, so we can include accurate information with the order and set proper and reasonable expectations throughout the process. In turn, the relationship with the client remains strong because they have confidence there are competent people working with them who are truly invested in the success of the whole project, not just closing a sale.

I’ve put together a quick list of the most common types of information that is missed when orders are submitted. Hopefully, these tips can help you improve your clients’ experiences and ensure repeat business.

buildingsIs there a suite number or building number?
Think about that time that you ordered a package, and it was delivered to the wrong apartment or office. How aggravating was that? It’s the same in telecom. The suite number is one of the most forgotten things when it comes to installing new services, but it is also one of the most important. By placing an order without it, you run the risk of the Provider's technician showing up and installing the service to the wrong place, and it is very difficult—if not impossible— to get a tech back on-site the same day. Typically, if this happens, expect to add several days to the install timeframe, since everyone is then at the mercy of the first available technician appointment. Ask for and confirm a building or suite number up-front and avoid all the hassle later on.

Is this new construction?
I mentioned this example earlier, but there are several details the provider needs to be aware of at the beginning of the order process in addition to noting the fact that the building is “new construction.” With new construction, the address may not yet have been established in the LEC (local exchange carrier)’s database. Make certain you allow time for this step; it can get tricky, and additional documentation may be required. Typically, LECs will use the E911 database for addresses, so it’s critical to confirm that the address you provide is accurate from the start.

The site survey is also crucial for new construction. From time to time, a city or municipal permit is required before the LEC build can commence. The address can also occasionally change during construction (example “building 1” may change to “building A”), and it’s extremely important to know if that happens. Extra time may be needed to re-evaluate where the service is going. Additionally, be mindful a remodel or renovation is considered new construction if the existing demarcation point is demolished or moved. Is this a trailer site? Sometimes we are unaware of this upfront, and we don’t find out until an order is rejected for an invalid address or when a tech shows up and can’t complete the installation. Making sure that you flag the address not only as a construction site, but as a trailer on a construction site is vital to ensuring a smooth installation.

Is this a closed building or riser building? 
This is a big one, especially in retail spaces and high rises. Will the building management only allow wiring done through a specific riser company? You should be asking that question up-front to avoid unnecessary delays. A closed building can hinder the progression of an order when a provider tech is turned away and another dispatch is required. Some work and possibly additional documents may need to be completed by the riser company before an order can be completed, so this is a key point you’ll want to make sure you cover with the customer prior to submitting an order.

What are the access hours?
Some sites are not staffed at all times. Please understand that if a provider tech shows up and no one is there to let them in, they may bill the customer for a trip charge. In the instance where a redispatch is needed, there could be a charge encountered with this as well.

Is this a multi-building campus environment?
If so, what building will this circuit go to (see number 1)? This is an absolute must. If the correct building name or number is not specified, a provider may install a circuit in the wrong place, and it would be the customer's responsibility to extend it to the correct building, resulting in a loss of time and a large charge. Or worse: a move order needs to be placed and the clock starts all over again. Saving a minute or two at the onset of the order is not worth weeks or months of delays, to say nothing of the charges that might be incurred and the inconvenience to the customer.

calIs there a specific drop dead requested due date - why?
There is almost always a fixed due date for services—grand openings, move-in dates, new application go-live dates, etc. What is the event that is driving their specific due date? This info would paint the big picture for everyone involved and illustrate the impact of not meeting the requested date. Would the customer be out of service and/or would it impact business applications? If so, then say it! However, please understand that there is usually only so much that can be done when you ask for a miracle. Reasonable expectations are always necessary for a good experience all around.

I’ve unfortunately learned all these lessons the hard way. Setting and managing proper expectations is our goal. Once an order is keyed, any changes (no matter how small) are challenging and can add days, weeks, or even months onto an otherwise simple project. Worst case scenario, the whole order must be cancelled and re-keyed, and the clock restarts. The next time you are ready to submit an order, remember these six tips; it will only help ensure that both you and your client will be happy with the outcome.

About the Author
Anne Pheuphong is a certified Project Management Professional, overseeing TBI’s operational support project management team as Program Manager. Anne originally joined TBI in 2004, moved to North Carolina and took up account management positions at XO Communications (awarded President’s Club in 2010) and Time Warner Cable Business; she came back to TBI in 2012. Within TBI, Anne has been promoted from Strategic Vendor Specialist to Assistant Post Sales and most recently Program Manager due to her adaptability, organization, detail orientated and high communication style. Anne has two kids and is a member of their local Elks Lodge, often participating in community events.