Relined Fiber Network’s 24/7 service extends beyond the customer domain

24-06-2021

Relined Fiber Network delivers high-quality Dark Fiber connections that contribute to stable, dependable and secure connectivity. Relined’s customers benefit 24/7 from very high internet speeds over a fibre-optic network that they operate under their own management and control. Even so, guaranteeing good connectivity for customers every minute of the day requires Relined to have a team standing ready to intervene when connectivity problems arise unexpectedly. To find out more about how Relined delivers the promised service levels, we interviewed Bas Remkes, Relined’s network and service manager, for this blog.

Bas Remkes and his five colleagues work in the Network and Service Management (NSM) department, which also includes the service desk. The team rebuilds connections when necessary and uses a range of applications to manage and maintain the network. It is also responsible for resolving network incidents and handling access requests. All these requests and issues are solved in-house.

Relined’s distinctiveness

Relined differentiates itself by engaging in constant dialogue with the network, the customer, contractors and network owners. And by dealing directly with the customer and solving requests in-house. Furthermore, Relined often goes the extra mile when handling those requests.

“Some incidents are not caused by problems within our scope – other parties, such as data centres or the customer domain, are the culprits. Even so, we still put forward suggestions to help the customer in these situations, or even resolve the problem ourselves. As a result, your collaboration with other parties goes further than setting up the connection, you also work together to manage it. That is another area where we try to stand out from the crowd”, says Remkes.

One thing is crystal clear for the network and service manager: “Each incident is one too many, but when a problem occurs, we do everything possible to resolve it as quickly as we can.”

Service Desk

Handling service requests submitted by customers is an important element of the NSM department’s activities. “Some of these requests relate to incidents, i.e. connectivity interruptions. But we also regularly receive questions about connection maintenance work. The customer is always informed in advance before this type of maintenance takes place. The service requests also include questions from contractors about work on cables, lines and access and other service-related questions”, Remkes comments. “In addition – if this is been agreed in a service contract – we also perform smart interventions on active customer equipment. For example, when customers are not easily able to access this equipment themselves”.

Remkes: “One of our team members is always on standby to take incident handling to the next stage. We work in on-call shifts. Each week, a different colleague is available on-call outside office hours. So we always handle and resolve faults in-house.” However, Relined does work with third parties in order to guarantee this in-house approach and provide a round-the-clock emergency call service.

“Because we want to help customers 24/7, they need to be able to reach us around the clock. Most of us do not work at night for example, but we still want customers to be able to contact us as quickly as possible if necessary. So we have an arrangement with a call centre that accepts the initial incident report and passes the information on to us if our colleague is unable to speak to the customer himself at the time.”

Dealing with faults

If a fault occurs, the customer can report it to Relined’s service desk by telephone or email. Unless agreed otherwise, the service desk keeps the customer informed by telephone and/or email, every two hours in most cases, until the problem has been solved”, says Remkes.

And Relined solves these problems carefully and painstakingly. “Relined handles incidents itself and resolves them by addressing the problem with the appropriate parties, for example the network owners and contractors. Relined’s service desk acts as a central point of contact for all the parties involved and coordinates the entire process.

We use fixed protocols to tackle issues efficiently and in a controlled manner. When an interruption occurs, we ask the customer a number of questions first to determine whether the fibre-optic cable is in fact the cause of the problem. For example, we ask customers to check the wiring or to reboot the equipment mounted on the connections. If these steps do not solve the problem, we look further afield. The principle of ‘measure it, manage it’ is key here. So we carry out an end-to-end (or bi-directional) OTDR (optical time-domain reflectometer) measurement. Fibre-optic cables are measured from two sides and specific information is collected to determine the cause of the fault and to correct the problem.”

Customer-oriented service

Because our own people handle the service requests from A to Z, we offer the customer an optimal service experience. We work on the network every day and have frequent contact with network owners, contractors and customers. This makes fast communication and rapid action possible. The customer knows us and we know the customer. Because we can immediately see where the customer’s connections are located, we can respond quickly to service requests.

The internal lines of communication between the various departments are also short and effective. If necessary, issues can be coordinated easily and quickly within our team. Every department knows the network and the customers and their stakeholders. So we can act quickly and personally update the designated contacts at the customer.

Relined is extremely proud of how we facilitate this professional service backup in-house.

Communication with customers

Communication is key when dealing with incidents, not just contact with the customer, but also with all the stakeholders involved.

“We try to take customers on the journey with us by communicating transparently about the cause of the problem and how we are going to solve it. We also communicate transparently about planned network maintenance and the associated time windows. Communication is absolutely essential in these situations. Customers are obviously not happy when their connection fails, but our proactive attitude goes a long way towards restoring satisfaction. Because we attach so much importance to transparently reporting the facts and circumstances of incidents, we also send customers a failure analysis if they require one.”

Remkes nods in agreement when we say that this transparent approach is one of the key elements of Relined’s service backup. “That’s why we send a short assessment form after every incident to find out how the customer experienced our service and identify areas where Relined can make improvements as an organisation. We aim to carry on optimising our services and improve the quality of our processes. And we can only achieve this if customers give us honest feedback”.

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