Meeting Customer Needs Abby Carere OUTdrive Podcast

Connecting Communities

OUTdrive Episode 24 with Abby Carere

In this episode of OUTdrive, Cliff visits with Abby Carere, Vice President of Sales and Marketing for Conexon. An accomplished professional with a breadth of knowledge and experience in communication technologies, Abby is passionate about connecting rural communities through partnerships with electric cooperatives. She leads the company’s client acquisition strategy, is a top sales performer and serves as a vital resource for partnering cooperatives.

Read more for key highlights of their conversation on providing easily accessible resources for clients and partners, efficiently recognizing and meeting the needs of key audiences, connecting rural communities through fiber-optic broadband and more.

Efficiently Meeting A Need

At Conexon, Abby and her team serve as a vital resource for rural electric cooperatives deploying fiber-optic internet services to rural American communities. Placing efficiency and streamlined efforts at the forefront, Conexon provides cooperatives with the tools they need to effectively meet the needs of their customers. Abby describes one way that the company streamlines processes from the very beginning. She says, “We have an auto design platform, which I think is extremely beneficial for the cooperatives. We can design a network in days versus years so we don’t get backlogged on construction. We write out maps and all of those things that the cooperatives really need to do to get going, keep their project moving and get members connected along the way.”

Due to current conditions, for Conexon and its partnering cooperatives, meeting the needs of customers means utilizing new strategies and taking different approaches. Abby explains how things have changed, but cooperatives continue to consistently communicate with customers. “Before the pandemic, community events were a very big thing. Annual meetings, getting out there in the community, and really informing them on what you’re doing.”

She explains how strategies have shifted to include more social media, email and other means to keep in touch with customers. “There’s a lot more digital and social feeds. Social media is definitely a main avenue for co-op communication, especially on their Facebook pages. There’s also emails, phone calls, newsletters, radio advertising and direct mail to their members, keeping them informed. There’s multiple channels that they’re using to hit their membership to let them know what’s going on.”

Abby and her team know the importance of recognizing a need and working to deliver a solution, regardless of the situation. Utilizing new technology, whether for marketing or drafting network plans, and adapting your approach to best fit current challenges ensures that customers remain informed and processes remain efficient.

Providing Easily-Accessible Resources

Abby and her team understand that entering the broadband market is foreign territory for electric cooperatives. Serving as a trusted advisor, Conexon provides guidance and quality resources for partnering cooperatives, further improving efficiency and helping them build strong connections with customers from the start.

She elaborates, saying, “They haven’t had to market and sell competitively in a market before, nor do they have the telecommunications background and the engineering background from a telecom standpoint. So we pulled all these pieces together to really ease the process, help them get into the business and then help them be successful.”

Conexon makes it a priority to understand the unique situations, challenges and opportunities of each partnering co-op. The company recently unveiled a centralized hub for cooperative marketing needs. It includes customizable templates for social posts, websites, email campaigns and other initiatives that cooperatives can utilize to best reach their audiences. By making these resources easily available for partnering cooperatives, Conexon is adding value and saving resources, allowing them to better serve customers and position themselves for sustainable success.

Abby summarizes the marketing hub that Conexon has created. “Our goal is to give them super efficient tools to use and be able to execute on.” The idea of providing easily accessible resources can be applied across every industry. As a partner, leader and trusted advisor, providing the tools and guidance needed to succeed positions companies well.

Every relationship is different, but providing resources and simplifying the communications process is integral in every business. Not only does it improve efficiency, but it allows more time to focus on what truly matters – the people.

Connecting Rural American Communities

Throughout her career, Abby developed a passion for rural cooperatives and the communities they serve. This passion and appreciation has only grown as she continues to work with them. She explains, “I have learned from exclusively working with electric cooperatives that they care about their members. Their number one goal is to serve their membership and to provide them the best of the best service at all times.”

In rural America, our neighbors are our friends and family. True to the rural American mindset, Abby shares that she loves the culture of rural cooperatives and their involvement in their communities. “It’s just such a beautiful thing to see the community and how much they care about one another. I think that’s where I’ve found the most value out of the work that we do, just seeing how excited people are and how much they’re willing to dive in and help their communities.”

Abby, Conexon and rural cooperatives are making an impact by providing access to quality internet. Abby explains, “Our goal is to keep people connected, and give them access to world class internet services, just like everyone else in the world.” She went on to say, “You should be able to live wherever you want to live, be with your families, be able to work from home, have telemedicine and economic development and growth in your communities. The number one way to do that now is through technology.”

Closing the digital divide one network at a time, the Conexon team and rural cooperatives are supporting rural America in an impactful way. No matter the industry, recognizing and providing for needs, focusing on relationships and providing the tools needed to succeed are core values of rural communities and those that serve them. Hear more from Cliff and Abby on these topics and more in this episode of OUTdrive. Check it out!