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Navigating COVID-19: Member Perspectives – Episode 6

Welcome to episode 6 of our Navigating COVID-19 Podcast series!   In this episode we’re speaking with Stephanie Johnson, Marketing and Member Services Manager for Jasper County REMC in Rensselaer, Indiana. Jasper County serves about 31,000 people in a small county in northwest Indiana, and Stephanie emphasized the importance of their organization helping businesses during the pandemic as well as working with members on options to pay their bills, including partial payments.     Have a story you’d like to share? Please email Jennifer Segelle at jennifer.segelle@nisc.coop.  

By | June 9th, 2020|Blog|Comments Off on Navigating COVID-19: Member Perspectives – Episode 6

Navigating COVID-19: Member Perspectives – Episode 5

Welcome to episode 5 of our Navigating COVID-19 Podcast series!  In this episode we’re speaking with Dr. Michel Guité, CEO of Vermont Telephone Company (VTel), in Springfield, Vermont. Dr. Guité shares how VTel worked with local schools in their communities to ensure students had access to reliable internet connections and the value in continuing to provide excellent customer service during the pandemic.  Have a story you’d like to share? Please email Jennifer Segelle at jennifer.segelle@nisc.coop. 

By | May 29th, 2020|Blog|Comments Off on Navigating COVID-19: Member Perspectives – Episode 5

NISC Launches Two-Way Texting Feature for Enhanced Outage Communication

Providing your customers with communication options is essential as we rely more on technology to stay connected. Making that communication simple is critical. Now, you can enhance that connectivity and communication by leveraging the new outage two-way texting feature. Powered by the NISC enterprise, the new two-way texting feature utilizes the accessibility of SmartHub, along with the communication power of Messenger and NISC's Outage Management System (OMS), to provide an easy, convenient way for your members and customers to report and receive updates on an outage. "Efficient communication is always essential, but has become critical during these uncertain times," said Amber Wesche, NISC product manager for SmartHub. "The ability to report an outage and receive updates via text is going to give our Members more flexibility and more options to reach their members and customers efficiently and effectively." Through two-way texting, your members and customers will have the ability to text a key word to you in order to report an outage or receive a status update regarding a current issue. Customers can text OUT to a designated text number to report an outage or STATUS to check the status of their service during an outage, and will receive an automatically generated message to keep them updated. "Two-way outage texting supports our strategic initiative to provide robust outage communication for our members," said Keith Stapleton, chief communications officer at Sam Houston Electric Cooperative. "They've been asking for it, and we expect outage texting to increase member satisfaction." To take advantage of two-way texting, your member or customer must be a registered SmartHub user with a phone number listed as a Messenger contact. Also, NISC's OMS system is a requirement for use.

By | May 21st, 2020|Blog|Comments Off on NISC Launches Two-Way Texting Feature for Enhanced Outage Communication

Navigating COVID-19: Member Perspectives – Episode 4

Welcome to episode 4 of our Navigating COVID-19 Podcast series! In this episode we’re speaking with Katie Pfennigs, Marketing and Communications Supervisor for Flathead Electric Cooperative in Kalispell, Montana. Katie shares how Flathead continued some of their Annual Meeting traditions despite having to cancel their meeting this year, and other ways the cooperative is supporting their community during this time. Have a story you’d like to share? Please email Jennifer Segelle at jennifer.segelle@nisc.coop.

By | May 7th, 2020|Blog|Comments Off on Navigating COVID-19: Member Perspectives – Episode 4

Cyber Top Five :: Threats in the Wake of the Coronavirus

At NISC, we see our Members as not only our Member-Owners but also part of our IT cooperative community. In regard to cybersecurity, an educated community is a safer community. We want to help you all achieve a secure workplace – whether in your physical building or in your employees’ homes. Here are the top five threats we are seeing during this pandemic and pointers on how to reduce the threat. Social Distancing, Not Social Engineering In today’s cyberworld, everything is fair game, even your employees. Cybercriminals will go to extreme lengths to trick your employees into opening a hole in your network for them. Now with the coronavirus pandemic, the opportunities for social engineering trickery have increased. With unemployment and stimulus payments being deposited, thieves leverage these hot topics to lure in those unsuspecting victims. Everything from emails with malicious malware embedded to exploit your critical business data, to spam mimicking a legitimate financial institution to trick recipients into giving up their login credentials, the cybercrime tactics evolve where they see a weakness. During times of uncertainty, it’s human nature that the numerous distractions cause our guards to go down. Train your employees to identify signs of a potential phishing campaign and remind them the risk is even greater right now. Is the spelling correct? Does the sender match the email address? Am I expecting this email? Does the email want me to click on or download something? Who should I contact if I see something malicious? When in doubt, follow up before opening up. Remote Collaboration Concerns It is hard to replace face to face communication. Fortunately, technology is helping bridge this disconnect. From emails to instant messaging to video conferences, it is [...]

By | April 27th, 2020|Blog|Comments Off on Cyber Top Five :: Threats in the Wake of the Coronavirus

Navigating COVID-19: Member Perspectives – Episode 3

Welcome to episode 3 of our Navigating COVID-19 Podcast series! In this episode, we hear from Steve Sjoberg, Manager of Communications and Public Relations for Cass County Electric Cooperative in Fargo, North Dakota. Steve discusses Cass County’s recent donation of more than 1,000 face masks to health care providers and first responders in their community, as well as how they are working with other local community leaders to navigate COVID-19. Have a story you’d like to share? Please email Jennifer Segelle at jennifer.segelle@nisc.coop.

By | April 23rd, 2020|Blog|Comments Off on Navigating COVID-19: Member Perspectives – Episode 3

Navigating COVID-19: Member Perspectives – Episode 2

Welcome to episode 2 of our Navigating COVID-19 Podcast series! In this episode, we hear from Bill Gerski, Senior Vice President of Business Development, Lori Lowe, Manager of Customer Service and Billing Support, and Pete Yastishock, Safety Director, from Tri-Co Connections in Wellsboro, Pa., as they discuss Tri-Co's efforts to continue deploying broadband services in a time when users need it most. They also share some of the cool things they’re doing to help employees in the midst of this pandemic and the measures they are taking to protect both employees and customers. Have a story you’d like to share? Please email Jennifer Segelle at jennifer.segelle@nisc.coop. 

By | April 17th, 2020|Blog|Comments Off on Navigating COVID-19: Member Perspectives – Episode 2

Navigating COVID-19: Member Perspectives – Episode 1

The Coronavirus pandemic has presented many challenges for our organizations, but it has also showcased our Members’ deep sense of community and innovation. We’ve been so inspired by the good work our Members have been doing to take care of their members/customers and communities, and we wanted to highlight some of those stories to shine a light on their efforts and spark ideas for others. We’re excited to bring those stories to you in our new Navigating COVID-19 Podcast.  Our first interview was with Jennifer Prather of Totelcom Communications in De Leon, Texas. Hear how Totelcom has been giving back to their community during COVID-19, and Jennifer’s advice to other organizations looking to get involved.   Have a story you’d like to share? Please email Jennifer Segelle at jennifer.segelle@nisc.coop.  Thanks for listening!  

By | April 14th, 2020|Blog|Comments Off on Navigating COVID-19: Member Perspectives – Episode 1

Putting Members First During COVID-19

Delivering exceptional communications and energy services has always been essential, but now those services are more important than ever. COVID-19 has completely changed the way businesses are operating and seeing the incredible ways our Members have navigated recent challenges to support their communities has made us so proud to serve these industries. NISC Member San Isabel Electric Association (SIEA), based in Pueblo West, Colo., is just one of those organizations working diligently to serve members with minimal interruptions in light of COVID-19. San Isabel General Manager, Reg Rudolph, shared his thoughts on how the co-op is adapting in the transition to remote work. “We had to quickly procure the necessary hardware for our employee base to work from home,” Reg said. “It’s been challenging because our virtual private network (VPN) has been struggling due to the number of users logging on and some of our employees are limited by their bandwidth and WiFi speeds at home. Providing some training for our employees on work from home procedures has been crucial to this transition.” San Isabel has also closed their office to in-person payments and is taking extra precautions with their employees in the field. “Field work has definitely been limited as we have to keep a safe distance from our members and one another,” Reg said. “Some of our larger jobs requiring multiple SIEA employees have been halted for the time being.” Among the solutions helping Reg and San Isabel continue to serve members is Messenger, which they have been using to quickly notify members of changing practices such as suspending disconnects for non-payment, waiving fees and notifying members that their offices are closed to walk-in traffic. San Isabel has also been utilizing SmartHub to [...]

By | April 8th, 2020|Blog|Comments Off on Putting Members First During COVID-19

The Balancing Act of Wireless Access and Customer Expectation

By: Phil Fine, Product Line Manager, National Information Solutions Cooperative For many fixed wireless broadband service providers, each day can be a challenge to provide the most reliable and efficient service while balancing the expectations of the customer. While wireless carriers focus largely on delivering the broadband services to the home across their wireless access network, they often overlook the equally challenging and oftentimes more complex delivery of those services inside the home wireless network, which can be detrimental to the customer experience. Deploying a solution that supports remote home network management has become critical with the explosion of Wi-Fi connected devices. The most successful service providers will deliver unmatched customer service enabled by a robust remote customer care solution. The best solution gives providers visibility into the customer home network, allowing a review of the state and performance of devices connected via Wi-Fi to the carrier’s broadband network. Ideally, service providers will have the ability to monitor networks and proactively address issues before the customer even realizes there is one. While there are a number of solutions for managing the home networks, many are not designed to be open to manage standards-based equipment nor integrated to the carrier back office for maximum operational efficiency. Ideally, providers not only should have the ability to select equipment that meets the needs of their customer base, but also acquire that equipment in a cost-effective manner. By deploying a standards-based solution, carriers have the power to use the most cost-effective equipment in their customers’ homes. But that is only one side of the balancing act. Customers have expectations of their own: 100% reliability with all of their devices connecting seamlessly 24/7, regardless of quantity or location. And when [...]

By | April 8th, 2020|Blog|Comments Off on The Balancing Act of Wireless Access and Customer Expectation