The cable industry supports millions of employees in a wide variety of fields and roles, such as the engineers highlighted last month, but customer service representatives are the front line, people that interact with customers the most and the ones responsible with leaving a lasting impression.
"You have to enjoy helping people, and solving problems. It's not for everyone. You have to enjoy being able to turn things around for people," said Jon Coscia, Group Vice President of Customer Service at Mediacom. Coscia, who oversees more than 1,000 employees in the customer service arm of Mediacom including 10 call centers, said that to be successful in these types of roles, employees must have a "thick skin" and the patience to listen to people's problems all day. They are often the ones to take the blame, even when issues—such as a channel blackout—are sometimes out of the company's control. "There's always a tendency to 'shoot the messenger,'" added Coscia, but it's times like that when customer service matters the most. "If we don't care about those problems, we just make it worse [for customers]. Sometimes an agent can really turn a situation around."
Coscia explained that their agents provide traditional customer service that include questions around billing, appointments, and order entries, but there are also customer service jobs that are repair-focused and that revolve around troubleshooting internet service and TV issues.
Coscia also pointed to a recent change in customer service operations. Traditionally, in the past, agents tended to handle TV troubleshooting separately from agents who were dedicated to tech support and to troubleshooting internet problems. "Now, video and high-speed products have morphed together because there are more OTT capabilities, so there's a lot more codependence and similarities than in the past. Today people have more complicated setups in the home with routers and networks and a ton of different devices."
Then there's Mediacom's Total Care group—employees who handle any issues that escalate to the executive team, as well as those customers experiencing chronic issues. "These issues are handled in a more concierge-type way," said Coscia, in order to pay extra attention to the problems they are encountering. In addition, Coscia says Mediacom’s retention specialists are very important to the customer service team in their work to talk through issues with customers who ask about disconnecting their services.
"It's a very difficult job, but most of our customer service representatives are just like our customers," said Coscia. "They live in the community, they understand our customers, and they are absolutely our biggest customer advocates. They want to do right by our customers.”