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Storing attachments with accounts helps during fiber deployment

If a picture is worth a thousand words, how much is an easy to access map of a customer’s property worth when a technician is installing a new fiber optic line? At Panora Telco in Panora, Iowa, they’re finding maps and diagrams stored with clients’ accounts in Customer Master to be priceless.

The ability to attach almost any type of electronic document to customer accounts was added to Customer Master in an enhancement earlier this year. Panora Telco was quick to utilize the new feature as it installs fiber optic technology throughout its exchange. Cheryl Castile, Panora Telco’s Office Manager, said the company utilizes the feature to attach maps for use during the installation of fiber optic lines.

Castile said the company needs to know where the fiber optic line will be installed on each property in its exchange and how it will enter the customer’s home or business. Teams of technicians go out in advance of the fiber installation crews to survey each property. During the survey, the technicians draw maps and diagrams on the backs of service orders for use by the installation crews who will follow in their footsteps. These maps are then taken back to the office, scanned as pdf files and attached to the appropriate customer account.

“If our own technicians lose a map or need a copy, we always have it,” Castile said. “We can also provide the maps to crews from our construction and engineering companies. It’s a permanent record that is always available.”

The company is beginning to attach other document types to accounts as well, such as applications for service. Being a cooperative telephone company, Castile said having easy access to an electronic copy of a customer’s application is helpful to see who is listed as the account’s contact person. She said the company plans to attach any other special information or customer correspondence that may needed for future reference. The feature has also been useful in maintaining documentation for the company’s special circuits.

Castile said initially scanning all of the documents is a little time consuming, but sees the use of the feature as a real time-saver in the future.

“We’ve just touched the tip of the iceberg in terms of how we can use this feature,” she said.

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