If you think relationships with family, friends, and co-workers require deft handling, consider the case of the six KVH airtime services department staff. They build successful outcomes with the company’s maritime communications clients around the world. Theirs is a campaign to ensure our customers get the best from KVH, whether it involves a mini-VSAT Broadband airtime plan, a crew calling card, or optimal use of mini-VSAT Broadband’s online tools.
Airtime services agent Katherine Bohensky is right at home in such a role, perhaps in part because KVH headquarters is only a few miles from her own home in Newport, Rhode Island. Bohensky’s 3 ½ years in the airtime services department comes after a career that’s followed several paths, from real estate to event planning and customer relations for a software company. To her, it’s a bonus that she’s been able to have such a diverse, rewarding work life while remaining close to the place that’s been important to her since childhood.
It’s a place that’s also made it possible for Bohensky, a single mother, to comfortably raise her daughter, Lilia, whom she adopted in China 16 years ago. “It’s been a wonderful journey,” Bohensky says. “I was in my forties, single, and couldn’t come to terms that I didn’t have a child. I knew I wanted to adopt a child from China. I expected to be told ‘no,’ but I got ‘yes.’ I was incredibly fortunate to adopt her when I did, and it’s inspired others to adopt. This is the most important thing I’ve done in my life and there certainly couldn’t be any job that could top that.”
While no parent would argue with that, even Lilia, a high school sophomore, seems to appreciate the relevance of careers in advanced technology in a modern age. “She wants to be a software engineer,” Bohensky says. “Her goal is to work at Pixar.”
For now, while Lilia holds down a summer job with a concession stand at a nearby public beach, her mother reports to work, setting up and activating accounts, assigning phone numbers, collaborating with tech support and sales, fielding emails and conducting “incredibly lively” phone calls with customers. “Client education is constant,” she says.
Indeed, client education, over and above all the other aspects of the job, is such a critical role that it takes on ambassadorial proportions. In fall 2015, when the company launched usage-based airtime rate plans as part of mini-VSAT Broadband 2.0, the task of helping clients make the switch to the best, most affordable option – in many cases, a move that also saves them substantial money – fell to the service agents. “The new plans are an improvement for customers,” Bohensky says. “More options are available for them. We can look at their history, see their usage, and suggest the best way to go.”
In that capacity, the agents must also be adept and knowledgeable in assisting a variety of customer categories that include corporate, international, and small leisure and commercial segments, as well as the service provider segment. “We work with them to present more options that suit individual needs,” she says. “You can be a fleet operator or a fisherman. If you’re a fisherman, maybe an airtime plan that runs according to your fishing season is best.”
Spending time with each client, explaining how to best use satellite broadband products and services, as well as content like news, sports, movies, and weather, is a balancing act. “It’s hard to explain what we do,” she says. “We spend so much time on the phone and emailing it sounds so simple, but it’s not. We have thousands of customers, and every phone call and email is different.”
For example, “new customers have lots of questions,” she says. “It’s important to go through the bill and explain each item, as well as usage, according to the plan that’s been purchased. We’ll get reports from the technical support staff to assist us in explaining usage. We can help them learn how to use the system better.”
And because each case is unique, it usually takes more than one phone call or email to fully understand and meet the customer’s needs, which Bohensky says gives rise to the best part of her job.
“What I like the most is that you develop relationships with customers and service providers,” she says. “That’s the part I really like.”