The cable industry supports a vast workforce of three million direct and indirect jobs, with employees found in almost every corner of the United States. These jobs span diverse fields and careers that are a critical part of bringing internet connectivity and TV services to millions of Americans.
For a deeper look into the customer service arm of the industry, NCTA connected with Mediacom Senior Vice President of Customer Service Jonathan Coscia, who is responsible for all of Mediacom's call center operations, field support (dispatch) operations, and digital self-service and messaging platforms. Coscia offers a glimpse into what it takes to be a front-line ambassador for the industry and what's on the horizon for customer service.
Can you describe some of the issues that you and your team tackle in customer service day-to-day as well as on a long-term basis?
Our primary goal is to make sure that the customer is taken care of in a professional and efficient manner that results in an easy business interaction. We handle a wide range of issues like signing up new customers, answering billing questions, managing appointments, and providing technical support for our services. To that end, we spend a lot of time planning and forecasting to make sure staffing levels are adequate and ensure our reps are trained and knowledgeable about the tools we use to support our customers. We also invest in technology to improve self-service capabilities and keep customers informed with service bulletins.
What kind of training, or attributes, are most important in these positions?
It is critical to have a willingness to help resolve issues and be an advocate for customers. Effective employees are always on the side of the customer to help them solve issues that may arise and get the most out of their service. In addition to great communication skills and being friendly, it is important that our employees are tech savvy and are driven to solve problems.
How have changes in the technology landscape, and customer demands, impacted how customer service is delivered in the past few years?
Technology advancements have made it much easier for the consumer to find out information and manage their services. Our mobile app and website allow customers to manage and receive information about their service that in the past would require a phone call or a trip to the local office. These innovations have made it much easier to do business with us, particularly simple transactions where customers expect their provider to have a quick solution.
Dependable home delivery makes it simple to get new equipment in the hands of our customers so they can complete self-installations. Text messaging has made it easier to relay important information such as tech arrival times or information about storms that may impact an area. It also gives customers the ability to text with our agents rather than call or visit a front counter. Additionally, our investments in more network redundancy, our whole-home Wi-Fi solution, and upgrades such as DOCSIS 3.1 and the 10G platform have allowed us to provide even faster, more reliable service.
What do you see for the future of customer service and how it might transform in the next decade?
The future is bright! I see technology playing an even bigger role to help the customer get fast, easy resolutions to their questions and solve more complex problems without a lot of effort. I see improvements in self-service (voice, online, and messaging) experiences from conversational AI. For example, instead of searching knowledge base websites for help, these systems will be able to reduce time/effort and provide the answer in a conversational way. At the same time, these tools will be able to aid customer service employees assisting customers by giving them suggestions and easy access to the right answer.
I see even more reliability and speed as we continue to invest in the 10G platform and DOCSIS 4.0. Still, at the core of every great customer service operation, will be people who are dedicated to helping customers. I do not ever see that changing, only getting better as we equip them with better tools and information to help solve problems.
What is one thing that most people don't know about the role of customer service in the cable industry?
I'm not sure if they are aware or not, but customer service representatives in the cable business love our customers. They are customer advocates, many live and work in the same communities as our customers, and they truly enjoy helping them get the most out of their service. Another open secret, as an industry over the last decade, we have quietly made significant investments in network, operations, and our employees to make sure phones are answered quickly, our customers have access to self-service tools in multiple digital channels and are kept informed. The SNL parodies of the industry are no longer relevant or true.