How call centres impact the local economy

Call centre employees usually get a bad reputation synonymous with doggedly persistent telemarketers who have the uncanny ability to know when you’re just sitting down to dinner, or faceless voices who are firmly un-supportive when you call for technical support.

There is a rare occasion when you call with questions about your insurance, or to pay your toll bill or credit card bill that your call may be answered by a local.

The hours and type of work at local call centers vary about as much as at manufacturing facilities.

Call Centres generally hire permanent part time employees due to the clients they serve. These are mostly stay-at-home parents whose children have started going to school, second incomers, college students, retirees, those who would benefit the most from working 20 to 30 hours per week with flexible scheduling.
For more than a decade, call centre jobs have been an important sector of Washington County’s and the Tri-Cities’economies, Alicia Summers, Washington County Economic Development Council’s business development director, said Thursday.

By Summers’ count, call centres in Washington County employ more than 6,000 people, with the largest two, Citi Group in Gray and Advanced Call Centre Technologies in Boones Creek,contributing more than half those jobs. Behind medical and higher-education employers, Citi Group is the county’s fourth-largest employer, with 2,000 employees, followed closely by ACT’s 1,800 at number five.
Obviously, they’re vital to our economy,” Summers said. “It’s absolutely a well-established industry here, they’ve been around for a long time, and the flexibility of the work schedules enable more people to get good jobs that may have to work around other things in their lives.”

With higher-cost products and services, losing customers to ineffectual call-insupport representatives is more expensive than hiring qualified, domestic employees.
Consumers want live agents — they don’t want multiple levels of an automated system — they want first-call resolution — they want the first person who answers the phone to be able to help them — and they want to talk to somebody in the country they are calling from. Demand for great customer service is paramount and sales continue to grow, and we believe in betting on Johnson City with the its leadership and the quality of the applicant pool.”

The company, whose employees answer calls for roadside assistance, then dispatch tow trucks and other help to motorists, plans to expand and locate its international headquarters at the Borla complex.

“The applicants we usually get here are from here, and they have roots here,” Royer said. “It’s the opposite of transient, and because of that and the work environment, we have extremely low turnover.”

Most of the new hires at Allied Dispatch are based on referrals from existing employees. Royer said the company receives applications at a rate of 10-to-1 for every posted opening.
During a Sept. 11 visit of the state’s Career Coach, a bus equipped with computers and staff available to help with applications, the company will look for 200 new employees.

Courtney Armstrong, who started with the company on opening day answering phones and who has since been promoted to manage the complaints department, said the workers at the call center don’t meet the standard telemarketer stereotype.

“If anybody thinks that all call centres are alike, they’re wrong,” she said during a telephone interview. “Some out there do sell items, but this is type of call centre is more of a group of people trying to help other people. It’s not selling, it’s more fixing a problem and helping others.”
Before moving to Allied Dispatch, Armstong worked in a chain eye care store. She considers her current position a career, something she couldn’t say previously, and she routinely recommends friends to open positions.

 

 

Here, there are so many jobs that we’re creating every single day, and because of our growth, we’re constantly opening new jobs and promoting from the inside,”she said. “People here can see that, and they can see the opportunities. Many people haven’t come here for a career, but they end up staying.”

Summers said call centre work is a viable option for workers displaced by lost factory jobs, as long as they can meet the needed requirements for computer and customer service skills.
“Most of our call centres do their training in-house,” she said. “There’s usually some pretty intense training before they can start answering calls on their own.”

 

Share this content:

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply