Single-sourcing That Works: Great Products + Great People (Part 3)
We started this blog series with the goal of sharing the awesome talent we have here at LightBound, because while excellent products are an important part of our solutions, we know it's the team behind the products that really makes things work.
To conclude this three-part blog series, we're introducing two more amazing LightBound team members, Ben Uelk, Project Manager, and Larry Glass, Director of Products and Engineering.
Meet LightBound's Team that Makes Single-Sourcing Work (Part 3)
In my spare time I do artwork. I hand-draw mazes that are completely solvable, and they’ve been featured in national magazines and all kinds of online publications. It’s a fun little side project I’ve been doing for about ten years.
What I Do
I see many different projects throughout a given week. One that comes to mind is a large Credit Union, where we've been coordinating the installation of seventy different locations with a new service we developed in 2017. My job is to stay ahead of the project, understand it, and coordinate with the customer, including all of the inside groups, weekly calls, and face-to-face meetings.
I coordinate everything so that the client doesn’t have to pay for two services at the same time while we are in transition from their current provider to the LightBound network. The LightBound team also helped avoid downtime during the transition, which can be tricky when working with multiple telecommunications carriers. It has taken a lot of careful consideration, but so far we haven’t had any hiccups.
For many of our projects, our clients have contractual commitments with other companies that only allow for a certain (and short) timeline for transition, so we try to make that transition as smooth as possible for them. Missing deadlines can be costly, both in terms of financial commitments as well as downtime if their current service is terminated prematurely.
How I Help Clients
I help clients by being proactive. I've found that the majority of our clients aren't used to their service provider being quite so proactive, willing to set up calls and coordinate with other departments or vendors. Most companies I work with have never had a project manager or project lead when they bought from other resellers or OEM's in the past. My involvement is a refreshing change from what they're used to, and I make communication the number one priority to keep everyone in the loop.
In a given week, I’m juggling fifteen different projects, but every single one takes priority. I make sure that the right people are communicating with the customer, whether it’s engineering, voice, or cloud, and we make sure that everything is synchronized and funnels through me.
Having a single point of contact within LightBound for implementations has been one of the biggest contributors to increased customer satisfaction. On the surface it's so simple, but organizing to make it easier for our clients is what produces better outcomes and better experiences. The client doesn’t have to feel bounced around, and instead usually hears solely from me to avoid confusion. From my perspective, we've made a lot of improvements over the last few years at LightBound, but having a single point of contact has led to a better all-around customer experience. Everything seems to run a lot smoother for our clients, and especially for us here at LightBound.
"I help clients by being proactive. I've found that the majority of our clients aren't used to their service provider being quite so proactive, willing to set up calls and coordinate with other departments or vendors. I make communication the number one priority to keep everyone in the loop." - Ben Uelk
A Day in The Life
Emails. Lots and lots of emails. Either that, or plenty of calls because my day is all about communication. It’s getting the new contracts from sales team, reviewing them, and discussing them with the groups involved, whether it’s engineering, voice, cloud, or the NOC (Network Operations Center).
I set up kickoff calls and contact customers to ensure we’re on the same page. Sometimes, what I receive from sales on paper doesn’t match up to what the customer was expecting, so we have those kickoff calls for extra clarity. Setting up expectations from the get-go is important.
I prioritize my day as it rolls in. New cases take precedence as they come in, and then it’s tracking all of the ongoing projects and answering emails or calls.
Communicating in the Way That Works Best For Clients
Most clients prefer email, and that’s one of the things I’ve had to pick up on. When it comes to communication, everyone is a little bit different. Some people want an email every day, and some people don’t want to hear from you at all. You can read a person when you first meet them, getting a sense of how they want to be communicated with.
Some people want calls, some want emails, so it does vary. But if you don’t communicate in the way that person wants to be communicated with, then it’s probably an annoyance to them. That's why I pay attention to communicate with clients in the way that works best for them.
Director of Products and Engineering
How I Got Into Telecommunications
Since my grandfather and father had been in telecommunications, I decided that I didn’t want anything to do with it, so I joined the Air Force to work on aircraft. When I got out in 1998, I decided working in telecommunications wasn’t such a bad thing. So, you could say I'm third-generation telecommunications.
I started my first job with AT&T in 1998 as a line installer, was promoted to tech support, and I eventually joined a startup. That’s when I got into VoIP, making me one of the first engineers to start with VoIP in Indianapolis around 2003.
I love to ride motorcycles and am building an arcade machine from scratch at my house.
What Business Challenges My Team Solves
My team excels at helping customers who've felt forgotten by their previous vendors. It’s a challenge to walk into a situation where the customer is upset that things aren’t working right, or their communication services aren’t the way they’re supposed to be, but my team enjoys being able to turn a situation like that around. We redesign things, get things working, correct previous issues, and it feels good walking out of there with a happy customer.
How LightBound Compares to Other Companies
I come from a larger company where trying to do specific things for a customer is like trying to turn an aircraft carrier—it's next to impossible to do. At LightBound, we can be more flexible and design custom implementations for customers. We are able to work on a lot of cutting edge things that other communication companies aren’t doing or integrating.
One thing I’m excited about is working on integration with customer backend systems, which some of the larger companies can’t do or won’t do because they’re not as flexible. LightBound's smaller size allows us to do more for each customer without being constrained.
How LightBound Acts as a Partner
When we offer communications and services to businesses, it's definitely a partnership. We walk in, figure out what all the problems and opportunities are, and how our communications products will help them grow. We know that if we can help a business grow, then it’s a two-way street, because they help us grow too. People talk about partnerships between companies all the time, but here on the voice side I know I think of it as truly being this way, and I encourage the rest of our voice department to think that way too.
"Choose a provider that's going to listen to you, hear your actual needs, and then come up with a solution that fits those needs instead of just trying to throw something out there that may not be what you need or wanted." - Larry Glass
Advice For Businesses Evaluating Options in a Crowded Marketplace
A lot of people pick their provider based on pricing first, but even if you save a dollar or two, you may end up losing thousands of dollars down the road. If you choose a provider that isn’t willing to come out and see you, for example, they won't understand your business needs very well because they won't get an accurate picture of how you operate. This could mean you end up with a solution that doesn't do what you wanted it to do. On the other hand, a company like LightBound is able to meet with you in person to design a solution that perfectly fits your needs.
You'll also want to consider where your business will be a couple of years from now. Can you scale up with this provider, and scale down? Do you pick a system now that you think is going to fit you, but then you find out two years down the road that you’ve outgrown it? Make sure you do the due diligence to find out, and make sure you aren't locked into a single piece of hardware.
Choose a provider that's going to listen to you, hear your actual needs, and then come up with a solution that fits those needs instead of just trying to throw something out there that may not be what you need or wanted.
LightBound's Team Makes Single-Sourcing Work
When you have the right products and the right people all in one place, you've hit the network and data jackpot. That's why we're proud at LightBound to have talented employees like Ben and Larry—they bring everything together to make our solutions happen.
Some companies have great products or services. Some companies have great people. LightBound has it all in one high-performing, single-sourcing place—and we're driven by a team of passionate employees. The expertise of our employees, their personable communication, and coordinated management of processes is the type of high-level IT that you can count on for success.
If you haven't already, check out part one of this blog series to meet Christopher and Kevin, and part two to meet Matt and Bill. We hope you've enjoyed going behind the scenes, and if our talented team members are the type of people that you'd like on your side, then contact LightBound today to learn more about how our solutions can make things work for your business!