Leadership Beacon

Leadership Beacon

 
 
 

Leadership Insights

The Season of Giving: How These CEOs Are Helping Children With Bark

Michael Weening

President and Chief Executive Officer, Calix

 

As we approach the end of the year and the holiday season, we reflect on what matters most: family, community, and living our values. As I have stated hundreds of times, your community-centric purpose is an incredible motivator to our teams. For this Leadership Beacon, that’s our topic—doing good for kids.

 

On the main stage at ConneXions this year, Scott Hendrix, CEO of Tombigbee Fiber, said it best about Bark: “If you can save even one life, it’s worth it.”

 

Since ConneXions, many of you have shared with me the profound impact of hearing other CEOs share the “why” behind their decision to adopt Bark social media monitoring—not as a revenue driver, but as a service to support the most vulnerable: our kids. Bark is not about revenue. Bark is about doing our part to help parents and kids.  
 

Our Shared Purpose: Doing Good for Children 

 

As Darin LaCoursiere, CEO of Endeavor Communications, writes in his article below, bullying in the digital age means that threats now follow children wherever they go—far beyond the bounds of the schoolyard. It is horrible. 
 

No subscriber/parent lies awake at night wondering how they can get faster broadband speeds into their homes. They worry about whether they’re doing enough to keep their families safe. We are uniquely positioned to do something about it.

 

No-Brainer To Launch, Promote, and Drive Bark: It Just Takes Service Cloud and Prioritization

 

To launch Bark, all you need is Calix Service Cloud (previously Support Cloud). You don’t need GigaSpire® BLAST or GigaPro™ systems, as it is a cloud integration—not a container on the appliance. Our Customer Success team, headed by John Durocher and backed by the Calix Smart Start program, is prepared to help you at every step.  Their suggestion is to launch it first for your own team members (what a great “holiday thank you”) and then for your customers.  

 

As John points out in his article, the best way to drive adoption of Bark is to include it as part of a package. Why? Because a packaged offering (think the “Guardian Package”) is what makes sense based on how consumers think and buy. Make it easy for them to understand how you’ll keep their families safe. This has been a key learning point from several early launches. Trying to sell the service by itself is HARD.

 

I hope you are as inspired as I am by these stories of CEOs who have prioritized Bark. For every CEO and GM who has embraced Bark, I applaud you.  
 

As we look to 2024, I could not be more excited about our joint trajectory. The entire market is changing, and those who have invested in automated operations and differentiated experiences are winning faster and faster.

 

Please, if you have any questions, concerns, or ideas, I am all ears. Reach out to me at michael.weening@calix.com or connect with me on LinkedIn.

 

Wishing joy to you, your families, your teams, and your communities this holiday season, 

Michael

 

 

Save the date!

OCT 12 - 15, 2024 | Wynn Las Vegas Resort and Spa

 
 
 

Customer Success Spotlight

When My Daughter Was Cyberbullied, This Tool Would Have Been a Huge Help

 

Darin LaCoursiere

President and Chief Executive Officer, Endeavor Communications

My mission as the CEO of Endeavor is to provide valuable managed services to our communities in Indiana. But a personal experience changed my view on what value really means for Endeavor…and sparked a mission to help children who deal with the cruel effects of online bullying.

 

The Sad Reality: Bullying Now Follows Kids Wherever They Go  

 

Years ago, when my family moved from Michigan to the small town of Eureka, South Dakota, we expected a fresh start. Little did we know that this move would teach us the reality of bullying for kids today. 

 

Our daughter, a bright and ambitious teenager, became the target of relentless bullying after our move. The bullying extended beyond the school gates and into the digital realm. The situation escalated when she was kicked off the homecoming court by a boy who had tormented her online for months. However, her resilience shone through when she decided to participate in the Miss Teen South Dakota pageant, where she became the first runner-up. It was a testament to her strength and determination in the face of adversity.

 

The sad reality is that bullying, which used to happen only in physical locations, now reaches our children anywhere they go through the apps on their phones. Technology tools make messages spread fast—and multiply to many groups. With online bullying, more kids can join the abuse quickly. The effect becomes even more severe for any kid who is suffering.

 

We Provided Free Bark Accounts to Teachers in Our Community  

 

Our family’s personal ordeal prompted me to take action when I learned that Calix was making Bark available as a fully integrated managed service for the Calix broadband platform. We were already fully bought into the end-to-end platform. I knew that would make it exceptionally simple and fast for us to launch Bark. With their help, we:

  • Provided free Bark accounts to teachers, targeting those with children in the vulnerable age group. 

  • Explored partnerships with local police departments, aiming to create a collaborative effort to combat online bullying. 

  • Initiated multi-faceted campaigns, reaching out to subscribers and non-subscribers alike.  

     

In October 2023, Endeavor became the first BSP in Indiana to offer Bark. Our initial launch made the social media monitoring tool available to thousands of families in our broadband footprint across Indiana. In 2024, we plan to expand our Bark offering through Endeavor IT (our nationally managed IT business) and beyond. Ultimately, our Bark offering will reach hundreds of thousands of families across the northern, midwestern, and southern United States. 

 

For us, this initiative is a step toward educating parents about the deep value we provide for them. Bark is not just a service. It’s a commitment to safeguarding our communities. Every child deserves to grow up in an environment free from fear, and with Bark, we are determined to contribute to that reality.

 

To learn more about Bark on the Calix platform, schedule a Bark consultation.

 

Customer Success Spotlight

Our City Loves Bark So Much, They’re Helping Subsidize It for Our Communities

 

Jay Shrewsbury

General Manager, Oberlin Cable Co-Op

Our decision to introduce Bark social media monitoring to our community was not just about business strategy. It was also a deeply personal decision. 

 

At Oberlin, we truly care about the well-being of people in our communities. I believe we have a responsibility to educate and protect the more than 800 young minds in our schools. Some of the biggest threats to their well-being today include being bullied on social media and being exposed to misinformation on the internet.  

 

Why the Managed Services Strategy Wins 

 

With Bark, we can do something to defend them against these threats. That’s why we were early adopters of the “managed services, not speeds” strategy that Calix CEO Michael Weening talked about at ConneXions. Managed services differentiate us as a brand that cares. We started with managed Wi-Fi in 2022 and followed with Bark this month. We plan to launch SmartTown™ and SmartBiz™ in 2024.  

 

The managed services strategy works. Managed services are why our Wi-Fi trouble calls have dropped 53 percent. They’re why we’re gaining market share—generating a 33 percent net-margin increase—even though a massive legacy competitor has overbuilt us. 

 

Community Response: Why Our City Volunteered To Help Subsidize Bark 

 

We’ve received widespread support since we launched Bark in mid-November. The local high school uses Bark, and the principal loves the tool. The Oberlin police chief fully endorses Bark. 

 

As other CEOs and general managers have stated, we’re not looking to make money on Bark. To keep it affordable, we purposely chose not to launch Bark at full retail price. In fact, I collaborated closely with the city of Oberlin’s Equity Division to educate them about the value of Bark for the community. They were so excited about the potential that they offered us funding to make up the difference between what we pay Calix for Bark and the discounted rate at which we offer it to members ($4.95 per month—a significant 60 percent discount off the retail price).  

 

Our Commitment to Members Is What Makes Us Competitive 

 

Bark isn't just a service; it’s a testament to our commitment as broadband service providers. Compared to our competition, we are small. We notice our competitors keep dropping their prices. They have a marketing budget that exceeds our annual revenue. Still, we’ve retained a highly loyal membership.  

 

With the power of a managed service like Bark, we are making a positive impact on the lives of our members—becoming the community leader in digital equity and inclusion. Much like the other Calix-based managed services we offer, I believe Bark will be extremely “sticky.” Our members are more likely to stay with us, not only because of our pricing and great service, but because we’re doing great things that a giant legacy provider simply will never do for them.  

 

Schedule a consultation to learn more about Bark on the Calix broadband platform.

 

What’s The Best Way To Launch Bark? Offer It as Part of a Package

 

John Durocher

Chief Customer Officer, Calix

When I talk to general managers (GMs) about Bark, they love the value it represents. But here’s the burning question they want an answer to: “Should I sell this as an add-on?”

 

Here’s what the Calix Customer Success Services team has learned after working with 20+ GMs to successfully launch Bark. If you approach Bark as an add-on, your techs have to essentially become salespeople. They need to quickly become incredibly knowledgeable about Bark. And you’ll have to support Bark with ongoing go-to-market campaigns. 

 

Why It’s Ideal To Offer Bark as a Package

 

If you want to be smart about operational efficiency and marketing spend, here’s my advice. Include Bark as part of a bundled package. 

 

Think about it. A simplified, bundled offer strategy—customized around how you can deliver safer, secure, protected digital experiences for families—often yields higher conversions. Why? Because it’s far easier for subscribers to understand the value. 

 

The fact is that add-ons don’t really work in any industry. They make customers feel nickel-and-dimed. If you spent $80,000 on a luxury car and then had to pay $100 more for floor mats, you’d lose your mind. The same is true for your managed services. Your subscribers will be more inclined to see Bark as a value-add when you deliver it as part of a “guardian” or “family safety” package. That’s a message they can understand. As a bonus, a packaged offering is also far easier for your front-line teams to execute!

 

Now, you may be thinking, “Hang on. If I offer Bark as part of a package, do I need to go back and re-price everything?” No. Here’s what you can do. Launch Bark as part of a promotional packaged offer. Over time, make it part of your overall offers. 

 

Use Calix Smart Start To Accelerate Your Bark Launch  

As Michael Weening mentioned in his article, Calix created the Smart Start program to help our BSP partners drive success with managed services like Bark. We have a team of Bark specialists who deliver the success formula for launching Bark: 

  • Align your teams and communicate the strategic importance of Bark. Compensation and incentive programs tend to drive early launch success. 

  • Partner with local institutions. To maximize the impact of Bark in your community, engage with schools, first responders, city leaders, and child-focused organizations.  

  • Invest in a consistent omni-channel marketing plan. You’ll need a dynamic website and social media to help educate consumers on the power of Bark. 

  

Your Bark specialist can help you with all of the above. Bark Smart Start guided engagement is unique based on your needs. The goal is to move as quickly as you would like to move. Your specialist will help you at every step. 

 

As the stories in this issue of the Leadership Beacon prove, Bark can make an incredibly positive difference in the lives of your subscribers. Bark is also a smart move for your business. It’s exactly the kind of managed service that can help you further your business transformation as you become a managed service provider—not just another broadband provider offering speeds and feeds. That’s how you grow value for your business and your communities at the same time. 

 

Learn how Smart Start and Calix Customer Success can maximize your Bark launch.