What does dance have to do with customer support? A lot, according to Gustavo Velazquez, who spent 21 years as a choreographer before joining Cox as a remote technical client service representative. Here’s why.
An artistic background can be a huge asset in the business world. That’s what Gustavo Velazquez realized when he retired from choreographing marching bands and color guards to pursue a new career working with customers at Cox Automotive.
“Never in a million days did I imagine I could use that passion I had for teaching dance and bring that with me to work,” he said. “It’s like this little fire that keeps me going.”
On top of his experience as an instructor, which involves communication and public speaking, Gustavo has often complemented his dance career with customer service roles, from manning the front desk at a hotel to working in a call center as a bilingual Spanish-English interpreter. The overlap between these two worlds extends far beyond transferrable skills, though.
“Even though choreography can be a physical skill, I look at my job and think about, ‘how can I create a choreography out of this phone call,’” he explained. “It’s a back-and-forth dance with the other person who’s trying to explain something that’s occurring to them.”
Here, Gustavo reflects on his first year at Cox and the keys to successfully swapping careers.
It's all about the timing
When Gustavo was reevaluating his career, he sought opportunities outside of Houston, TX, which led him and his husband to relocate to Indianapolis, IN. He was interviewing for a role at NextGear Capital (part of the Cox family of brands) when the pandemic started, and his career search was put on pause. During that time, Gustavo worked for two major banks, which helped him build up his resume and discover his interest in technical support.
With this new experience and sense of direction, Gustavo reached back out to NextGear Capital to pick up where they’d left off in the interview process, which led him to a different role at Cox Automotive — one he might’ve missed out on because of his own imposter syndrome.
“I found out I was overqualified for the role I had applied for in 2020, but the recruiters led me to the role where I’m in now,” he said. “Oftentimes I feel like we can have a plan and sometimes things come up that get in the way, but you still end up where you’re supposed to be.”
Gustavo’s secret to customer service success
While there were training and resources that made his onboarding easier, Gustavo said that when it comes to working in technical support, practice makes perfect.
“I’m amazed at the different concepts that I’m now able to grasp because of what we do every day,” he said.
Looking back at his first year at Cox, Gustavo said one of the keys to his success at work is his ability to empathize with others.
“I always try to put myself in this in the shoes of my client. Why? Because maybe this is the third time they’re calling about the same issue and they’re frustrated,” he said. “That allows me to assist the customer in the best way possible and turn that experience around.”
Helping customers with problems has also proven to be a fulfilling second act in his career journey: “Something really cool happens when you’re able to solve a problem — especially when at the beginning you’re thinking, ‘how am I going to do this?’ and then you’re on the other side of it. At the least, you’ll have a smile on your face, right?”
A step forward
Other customer service and support jobs out there can foster a culture of always being “on.” That’s just not the case at Cox, Gustavo said.
“I think what has been most impressive to me, and I think about this every day, is the support that I get from my team and my supervisor,” he said. “It’s refreshing to be in a role where I can put my work down and pick it back up the next day.”
This newfound work-life balance allows Gustavo to keep up with his other passions, including attending events that were part of his life as a choreographer, such as the Drum Corps International’s world championships, which take place in Indianapolis every year.
“I have become a spectator now,” Gustavo said. “I keep that aspect of my life still alive by watching and celebrating the teams that go out there.”