When people in cable speak about customer care and experience, inevitably they acknowledge Cox Communications as the leader. “Cox has been a customer care pioneer… dating back to [its late President/CEO] Jim Robbins,” says Jana Henthorn, The Cable Center’s SVP for Academic and Industry Outreach. Instrumental in The Center’s effort to make customer care an academic pursuit, Henthorn notes Cox’s endowment of a customer care chair at The Center and the University of Denver in 2006. As a prescient Robbins told us in 2006, “At the end of the day we’re all going to have the same programming, the same hardware. The differentiator will be how you treat your customer.” Today, that pursuit is led by Paul Cronin, Cox’s SVP of Customer Experience. We asked him about Cox’s culture and new customer experience strategies.
Many companies talk about customer care. Cox not only talks but delivers. What makes Cox different?
For Cox, it’s all about the voice of the customer. We understand the need to have a clear customer experience strategy that directly reflects the needs and expectations of our customers. It’s critical that we’re listening to the customers, not building our strategy in a vacuum or based on what we simply ‘think’ the customer expects. For example, we are making significant investments in our video product experience this year. We are doing this based on extensive customer research and applying these findings to product development.
It’s also important that our customer experience strategy aligns with our brand strategy—it’s our customer experience strategy that brings our brand strategy to life. And last, we compare ourselves to best-in-class companies, not the industry. Customers are comparing their experience with Cox against experiences they have with other companies, whether that’s their cable company, grocery store, or online retail outlet.
Our commitment is in our DNA—it goes far back in our history and reflects the Cox family’s overall commitment to the communities we serve. Customer service is a component of that commitment. It’s a core value at Cox and very much a part of our culture. You regularly hear our President and COO speak to it, which reinforces the message and value with our employees.
The bevy of new products must have increased the burden on customer care tremendously. How does Cox keep CSRs and field techs up to speed?
You’re correct; we do ask a lot of our care agents and technicians. Customers continue to get more value from their Cox service in part because they can connect more devices within their home to our network and their service. But we also recognize that it’s adding new things for our employees to understand and support. We have a very comprehensive new-employee training program.
Through Cox University we have a robust set of online training materials that enables employees to access information. In addition we continue to provide traditional classroom training as needed, often for larger product initiatives. Traditional weekly team meetings are critical to make sure we’re getting timely information to employees and hearing their feedback.
We also engage employees in the developing products and services, as many are on the front lines. Through focus groups and employee testers, we capture what they’re hearing from customers and engage them as a critical piece of our product and service delivery model.
What are some new customer care/experience techniques, strategies and technologies that Cox is using?
In addition to having a clearly defined customer experience strategy, we also have a robust customer listening engine to ensure we always use the customer lens in our decision making. This happens in many ways, including what our customer reps are hearing on the phones, and in social media. We’re also looking differently at how we should measure the customer experience. Historically we have looked at “customer service” performance along a narrower dimension and with specific customer touch points. It’s important that our measurement of the customer experience be done more broadly to reflect the overall customer experience with us from the brand message in the market all the way through the interaction with our products. Having a customer experience measurement system that every employee throughout the organization, not just in Care and Field, can understand is critical. – Seth Arenstein