Cox Communications is a private, family-owned business offering state-of-the-art services to customers from Currituck to New Kent. Shawndale Harris, outside plant maintenance supervisor at Cox, says that the compassion that exists throughout the company is evident in the extra steps it has taken for employees and customers.
Cox provides customers with the TV programming they love and the connectivity they need. Their fiber broadband network encompasses Newport News and much of the greater Hampton Roads area. The company has also been in front of the curve to adapt to the COVID-19 pandemic and help its customers do the same. “COVID has been a challenge this year, but like everything else, this company takes challenges by the horns and we own them,” Harris says. “We’ve learned how to be innovative in taking care of our customers. Virtual apps like Help Lightning help us safely and efficiently provide troubleshooting and minor installation services without entering homes.”
Connect2Compete is a program that Cox began in 2012 to increase all-important broadband access to families in need. With students now learning remotely, this program has helped many children to stay connected and continue their education.
Cox strives to provide the best customer service, and Harris is a living embodiment of that effort to serve. A few years back, Harris was approached by a neighbor who lives across the street. Having trouble getting her new DVD player to work with her television, the woman asked Harris for help. Even though she was off the clock, and her neighbor wasn’t a Cox customer, Harris happily gave her expert assistance. She was able to solve the woman’s problem and explain to her how to avoid the problem in the future, even providing written instructions. To this day, Harris has maintained a continuing relationship with her neighbor, now a happy Cox customer.
In describing her passion for helping others, Harris refers to the words of Maya Angelou: “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” Harris says, “I try to live by this credo and treat others the way I would like to be treated. Here at Cox, our main goal is to ensure we are providing life’s most important connections, and I’m proud to be a part of a company that works at improving this goal year over year.”
One way for Cox to ensure that its customers always receive such stellar service is by fostering a tightly knit, caring atmosphere within the company. In Harris’ experience, this supportiveness has always been a part of Cox, and new employees feel that right away. She declares, “immediately after being hired, I experienced the camaraderie and support from everyone. It felt like family.” Harris credits Cox for its ability to retain employees, herself having been with the company for 17 years. “It speaks volumes to the type of company Cox is,” Harris says. She is also pleased with the way Cox fosters a diverse workforce. “We are champions of diversity and inclusion,” she says, adding that “diversity has strengthened [Cox] by offering differences of opinions and perspectives on many decisions.”
Harris began working with Cox in 2003. At the time, she was studying at ITT Technical Institute in Norfolk. “I was already fascinated with technology and electronics,” she says. Her interests have helped her to excel in various positions within the company, currently having risen to the title of outside plant maintenance supervisor. In this role, she is in charge of a team of 10 technicians — men and women who can be seen in bucket trucks maintaining lines and working in the aftermath of natural disasters in order to reconnect communities as quickly as possible. Harris says that she and her team “work mostly behind the scenes to ensure there are little to no interruptions to the network that supplies cable services to many.”
Harris’ family is a large one and very religious, involved in several Newport News churches. In addition to enjoying her solid family base, she also loves to travel and explore different countries. So far, her favorite destination is the Dominican Republic, but she’s not finished seeing what the rest of the world has to offer.
To hear Harris speak of herself and especially her family gives a glimpse into why she puts such a high priority on maintaining mutually beneficial relationships with her customers and coworkers. In her words, “My family stands on the values of loving and treating others the way you want to be treated while holding a high standard for oneself and others.”
TO THE POINT:
Address: Cox Store, 12551 Jefferson Ave.,
Ste. 235, Newport News, VA 23602 (in Jefferson Commons)