Cox trimming 246 La. call center jobs; BR getting 150

Baton Rouge site picking up 150

Cox Communications is centralizing its call center operations, a move that will eliminate 246 jobs in New Orleans, Baton Rouge and Lafayette but lead to 150 new positions at its Baton Rouge operations.

The net loss to Cox’s operations in the state is 96 jobs.

The company is setting up seven “Centers of Excellence” nationwide that will focus on matters such as account services, sales and technical support. Baton Rouge will be a center of excellence in technical support. Some other cities with the centers are Las Vegas, Phoenix, Oklahoma City and Hampton Roads, Va.

The switch to centralized operations is aimed at making them operate more effectively, achieving standardization and improving responsiveness, said Sharon Bethea, a spokeswoman for Cox, a cable television, Internet and phone services company.

Call center jobs at the three locations will be affected by the consolidation along with some field collection jobs, Bethea said.

The shift toward centers of excellence will eliminate 125 call center jobs in New Orleans, 58 in Lafayette and 63 in Baton Rouge. With its 150-job center of excellence, Baton Rouge will have a net gain of 87 jobs.

Once the layoffs and the additional hiring take place, Cox will have 700 total employees in Baton Rouge, 400 in New Orleans and 200 in Acadiana.

“The primary reason for this shift is the customer experience. Greater operational efficiencies will be achieved because of these best in class centers are designed to promote collaboration and best practices around a specific area of service excellence,” Bethea said. “This is not as much about cost savings but driving business results.”

The impact of the layoffs is expected to take place in early May, while hiring for the additional jobs at the Baton Rouge call center will take place throughout the rest of the year, Bethea said.

Impacted employees will have priority for call center jobs and will be able to apply for other jobs at Cox, Bethea said. There will be a $15,000 relocation incentive offered to employees. For those workers who don’t stay with the company, they will receive at least a 60-day notice that their job is going away and will be offered severance and outplacement services.