ANCHORAGE, Alaska – As Alaskans hunker down and practice social distancing to minimize the spread of COVID-19, Alaska’s largest telecommunications provider is developing new ways of doing business to keep customers and employees safe while responding to unprecedented demands for service.
“We’ve never experienced anything like it,” said Vice President of GCI Customer Service & Sales Operations Sue Lindquist. “Our call center staff normally respond to 3,500 calls per day on average. Now that people are spending more time at home and are taking advantage of our free internet offers, our call volumes have jumped to more than 8,000 calls per day. I’m glad we planned for this possibility and began cross training our retail staff weeks ago. It’s been a big help.”
Recognizing the potential threat from coronavirus, GCI began a call center cross-training program in early March. More than 50 employees, many from local GCI retail stores, have completed the program. As customers began to opt for communicating virtually and over-the-phone, GCI began to temporarily close several Anchorage stores to the public and to direct those employees to call center and online duties.
“Unfortunately, higher call volume means longer wait times,” said Lindquist. “We appreciate our customers’ patience as we adjust to the extraordinary number of calls for new and upgraded internet service.”
GCI also added nearly 100 phone lines to its call centers, increasing the number of calls it can handle simultaneously. More laptop computers are also being distributed to retail staff who are equipped to work from home to help customers over the phone and online. For GCI retail locations that do remain open, plexiglass shields will be installed over the next several days and steps have been taken to manage the number of customers in stores to ensure proper social distancing.
To reduce customers’ wait time, GCI is pointing customers to self-service options. Existing GCI internet customers can activate their free internet upgrades by visiting the self-service dashboard at https://www.gci.com/mygci. Daily transactions through MyGCI have risen from 30 per day to more than 1,000 as customers have taken advantage of GCI’s new internet offers. GCI also expanded its Support page, which guides customers through a step-by-step process to troubleshoot service issues and to install equipment in their homes without the need of a home visit from a technician.
“We recognize that our customers are committed to social distancing and may be anxious about having someone else in their home at this time,” said Vice President of GCI Network Operations Chris Burns. “We are pleased to see so many customers have successfully installed their own modems and are troubleshooting issues though our online resources. It helps keep our customers and technicians safe.”
To protect the health and well-being of employees and customers, GCI is limiting the number of home visits by technicians by first working to resolve service issues remotely. GCI technicians who deliver equipment to homes will help the customer with the installation by walking them through the process over the phone. If it is necessary to go inside a customer’s home, technicians are following a strict set of safety precautions, which include refraining from person-to-person contact, maintaining social distance, and heightened sanitization.
For more information about GCI’s response to COVID-19, visit: https://www.gci.com/covid-19