In the last couple of months we have had many more faults than usual. It's a combination of deferred work over the COVID-19 lockdown, which we've had to catch up on, failed hardware and some simple old fashioned human error.
We are currently looking at how some of our work is completed, to try to prevent this recurring, and as part of the post lockdown work we are completing, we are building resiliency into some of our routing platforms so that we can seamlessly change customers over to our backup data centre for connectivity, if we experience another hardware failure. We use very large pieces of equipment which are supposedly very resilient, however they have had several faults in them since Christmas, so we are ensuring we have 2nd and 3rd options for these roles in our network.
Please accept my apologies for what has felt like a string of outages across our network, and rest assured we are striving to ensure this does not continue.
In better news, we have completed laying our own fibre at Mount Taylor on the outskirts of Feilding, and are currently connecting houses to this service. Stage 1 at Mount Biggs Road has been completed with installs now underway and Stage 2 of Mount Biggs Road will be completed in the next 10 days, after which we will start to book installs at these properties.
Stay warm out there, and as always give us a call if there is anything we can help you with.
- James Watts, Owner.
A bit more from Paul.
Just a few things that spring to mind of late.
COVID-19 was a shock to us all. Here at Inspire Net we just got busier.
Most customers took the opportunity to look at their current plans and as they were either stuck at home or working from home, more data was needed. Our call graphs showed a huge spike in the days prior to the level 4 lockdown and continued into the week following. The majority of our helpdesk staff were working from home and we are pleased how almost seamlessly this worked. We had a skeleton crew in our Main Street building ensuring things were running smoothly and communicating with all staff away from the office. We also had a small team on faults, however all of our outside infrastructure work had to come to a halt.
A big thanks to our team that just got on and did the job in very trying circumstances, it was much appreciated by not only James and myself, but we also received great feedback from you, our customers.
I would also like to apologise for the recent outages we have been having, and rest assured we have been working tirelessly to put solutions into place. It doesn't seem to rain but pour when these faults arise. Customers calling will have noticed that we were swamped with calls, and I noted that our voicemail messages were in the region of 300, which we had to get to as well as answering calls as promptly as possible during these faults.
We always try to get a post up onto our Facebook page and our website as soon as we can when something like this happens, but sometimes it takes a little longer to share the information than we'd hope, due to the team focus being on fixing the fault. We have put a key person in place to liaise between our network and helpdesk teams to ensure this will happen as quickly as possible going forward.
During a major fault, we will have a message on our voicemail system advising of the fault and will prioritise going through these messages. We do check that the customer is back online, so you may not always receive a call back, however if you continue to experience any issues after a fault, please give us another call, from time to time a customer fault can be unrelated to a major fault, and we don't want to miss those.
During lockdown, we did manage to upgrade the antennas and radios on 3 of our key sites, basically putting smarter equipment in to enable a better overall performance and customer experience on these key sites around the Manawatu.
Lately we have been having customers asking why their wifi is not performing as well as they think it should. From Inspire's perspective, we supply internet to the router and ensure we have the expected speed at that point. From there, customers often connect wirelessly with their phones, iPads, TV's and the like. There are a large number of factors that can affect your wireless connections to these devices such as distance from the router, walls and obstacles it has to pass through, and the wireless capability of your device, just to name a few. We have no control over this aspect of your wireless. If you have a smart TV we suggest plugging it directly into the router, or if you are experiencing a poor wifi connection, try plugging that device directly into the router if possible, and run a speed test to compare. If you need any help doing this, please give us a call, we're here to help. There are some options available to extend the wifi in your home or business which you can purchase from most appliance stores, check with the retailer how these could work for you.
Just before lockdown, we were due to start three new helpdesk agents. Unfortunately one started the day before lockdown, and two were due to start just afterwards, so we couldn't take these two on board, however since level 2 we have managed to get these two back and are now getting them up to speed on how we like to do things. Welcome to Kurt, Jack and Gareth.
We are currently updating our accounts process. What does this mean for me you may ask?
The majority of our customers pay their accounts with direct debit, however a few still pay by other means and sometimes this runs over the normal payment terms of 7 days after your invoice. So, for anyone that pays on time nothing will change, for others that haven't paid their account after a pre-determined time, our system will send you a friendly reminder. If you are having any payment issues, please give us a call to discuss options. Now is a good time, if you haven't already, to move to direct debit and forget about having to remember to pay every month. Remember you'll still have time to call us and discuss anything regarding your account prior to the monthly direct debit happening. You will also notice that our helpdesk will be checking account balances, if needed, when you call, again this is the minority of customers and is all part of our customer service. Further to this, when making payments through internet banking we only need your complete username (with no spaces) to process your payment correctly. Not sure what your username is? Give our helpdesk a call on 0800 484 363.
We know that COVID-19 has put more pressure on a number of people in their day-to-day lives, and from time to time they forget we are here to help. We know things can be frustrating from time to time, but our team will always give 100% to resolve anything that we can for you.
We have been experiencing high demand for our rural wireless service, prior to, during and after COVID-19 and due to this we have changed our structure slightly. We have a small team dedicated to the bulk of all that happens after your initial call. From the time you sign your contract, the goal is to have you installed within 6 weeks, sometimes it can be faster, but due to current demand, 6 weeks is a realistic timeframe. We have increased the number of subcontractors carrying out this work to help meet the demand. We have received very positive feedback around these contractors in general, however if you have any concerns, please don't hesitate to contact us.
We do need someone to be home when we come to do an install at your property, from both a health and safety point of view and to ensure that we can discuss where our equipment is being installed and ensure things are working as they should before we leave. I do note some customers are finding it hard to get time off to make this possible after COVID-19, however due to the distances being travelled by our contractors we do need to plan our days to keep travel costs down and to schedule as much work as we can and at this time of year health and safety and daylight are the two things that can limit this. We try to keep to our timeframe as closely as possible, but sometimes there are unexpected hold ups that can delay us.
- Paul, General Manager
A quick note from Karina.
What a year so far!
There have been some highlights, even through the trials of COVID-19.
We've begun some new sponsorship partnerships in and around our community, and it's been very rewarding being able to provide connectivity and support some of our smaller not for profit organisations along with some of the larger charities through these difficult times.
Our purpose has always been to connect people and our focus is making sure we continue to be the friendly team that helps people and provides the great service that we're so proud of.
Now that we're back out and about, just a reminder, to save your data and hook into our Inspire Net Free WiFi service. Once you're in an Inspire Net Free WiFi zone, just click the 'inspirefreewifi' network
from your device settings and you'll be taken to our page where all you need to do is click "Accept" to agree to our Terms and Conditions, then you're online! If you're around the Palmerston North CBD, you'll get 4 hours unlimited data, and if you're a patient or visiting Palmerston North Hospital, Wanganui Hospital, Arohanui Hospice or you're up in Auckland at Ronald McDonald House, you'll receive 24 hours unlimited access.
We have always supported local businesses wherever we could, and as we start to move back into a world that is rather different to how we started 2020, it's a time to recognise and thank you for your ongoing support of our local business.
If you have any feedback for us, whether it be around our website functionality, promotions, our Facebook page or just anything you'd like to see more of, drop us a message at firstname.lastname@example.org. We would love to hear from you.
Lastly, if you're a Facebook user, and you haven't already, follow us and you'll hear about any faults, news and other bits going on around Inspire land.