HTC Uses Web Maps and Apps to Deliver a Greater Customer Experience in an Increasingly Competitive Environment

August 22, 2015

Sarah Alban, Esri Writer

Horry Telephone Cooperative (HTC) in South Carolina is the largest telecommunications cooperative in the United States. Because of a diversifying customer base and a wide range of service offerings, HTC wanted to streamline how it offered and delivered services to constituents.

Implementing the ArcGIS® Platform

HTC previously managed its operations by using tabular spreadsheets. Information lived in multiple systems including operations, customer information, and marketing systems. Employees could ultimately find what they needed, but doing so took more time than necessary. Without a system that supported interdepartmental collaboration, finding the right information could take days.

To streamline internal communications, HTC decided to take information that once resided in multiple systems and make it accessible in one place—the ArcGIS platform. With access to critical information in one location, employees started to directly pull what they needed. In addition, information was spatially enabled, enhancing visualization in ways not possible with tabular data.

“You get so much more when you present that data on the map than you do just looking at spreadsheets,” CIO Sid Blackwelder said.

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“Esri's mapping capabilities allow us to take the wealth of data and combine it and connect it with the mapping capabilities to really paint the full picture of everything that needs to be considered. And that allows us to make more informed decisions, take a more strategic approach, and ultimately define what's going to be the best route." —
Jessica Strickland, HTC Marketing

Mapping the Market

In the past, marketing strategies were often developed through time-consuming manual processes. Deciding where to launch new campaigns, for instance, required searching multiple systems and spreadsheets. Today, this information lives in the ArcGIS platform. With web maps, marketing staff can instantly and visually assess demographics, household information, and other consumer data.

“Rather than looking at a spreadsheet of just a lot of data, it allows me to really put the meaning behind it and help us make informed decisions of where we need to go next,” marketing data analyst Jessica Strickland said.

Staff can map potential new markets and understand customer preferences, lifestyles, and media preferences. In addition, they can use spatial analysis to identify new markets that match the characteristics of existing, profitable markets. They can start selling services to areas where they are likely to succeed.

When a sales campaign kicks off, HTC representatives can use a spatially enabled customer engagement strategy. Sales teams can check what rates they can offer a customer, what service the customer may have had in the past, and more relevant sales information. They can see if a resident is an existing or prospective customer, and they can be prepared to deliver explanations about service and rate offerings.

“We can tailor each customer message based upon the history that we built through ArcGIS—quickly,” said Brent Groome, chief executive of marketing, economics, and strategic initiatives.

Campaign supervisors monitoring the GIS-based dashboards can visualize their campaign results. They can identify patterns and trends and determine which sales representatives are most successful. They immediately understand what is working and where they can improve and administer corrective action in real time.

“GIS is an extremely valuable tool. The technology has the ability to help our organization realize a tremendous return on investment.” — Sid Blackwelder, CIO

Stronger, Faster Decisions

The ability to share information instantly across a platform with access from any device was critical internally and externally.

“It's vitally important to share information across parts of the organization so everybody is on the same page and understands the goals and how to attain the most effective results,” chief executive of sales and customer service Jon Tyler said.

Employees with no previous GIS experience are accessing information on the ArcGIS platform and discovering new, faster ways of solving old problems. Engineers can identify where to invest in network expansions by determining geographic patterns in customer-service requests and comparing where customers live versus work. They can propose facility upgrades and support decisions with easy-to-understand maps that show demographics, service-request history, and more.

“Esri gave field engineers the ability to do something that they couldn’t do with the previous product or anything else out there,” applications engineer Carlotta Smith said. “Because they could take the information into the field and say, ‘This is where I want to put this, and here are the details behind it.’ And they can pull that information up and manipulate it on the spot.”

Web applications let you see important customer information. Segment customers by business and residential, and visualize your marketing opportunities. View customers and opportunities in an easily accessible web application.

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