Local NewsShare on Twitter
Click here for a link to the video.
PACE is the Professional Association for Customer Engagement. PACE is the only non-profit trade organization dedicated exclusively to the advancement of companies that use a multi-channel approach to engaging their customers, both business to business and business to consumer. These channels include contact centers, email, chat, social media, web and text.
CASCADE TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WZZM) -- Governor Rick Snyder joined other state and local officials Wednesday in celebrating the opening of Dialog Direct's new call center office. It will employ 250 people, topping 2,500 jobs the company has created in the state.
Asked if call center jobs, not known for being high paying, were worth celebrating, Snyder said: "These are jobs that help people make a livelihood so I wouldn't diminish the value of these jobs at all. We are doing a good job of creating high value jobs."
Officials note the "customer engagement" jobs are being brought back to America from overseas.
Also at the event, Matt Zemon, Chairman, Jobs4America, who presented the State of Michigan with a "Spirit of America" award to recognize the Snyder administration for its contributions to the national nonprofit's goal of creating or re-shoring 100,000 customer service jobs since 2012.
The company was once known as NOVO1. It opened a call center in Holland years ago that was expected to employ 300 and now is home to 700 jobs.
CASCADE TOWNSHIP, MI – Gov. Rick Snyder joined a celebration on Wednesday, Sept. 3, for 250 new call center jobs at Dialog Direct, a Texas-based firm that opened its offices at 2905 Lucerne Dr. SE this spring.
“These are jobs that help people make a livelihood,” said Snyder of the new call center, one of five operated by Dialog Direct in Michigan. The company employs 2,375 persons in Holland, Troy, Auburn Hills and Highland Park.
“We’re proud that companies like Dialog Direct are expanding in Michigan because our state, the Comeback State, has the talent and the business-friendly environment that helps companies grow and thrive and create more and better jobs,” Snyder said in his remarks.
“It’s sending a message to the rest of the world that we can compete.”
For 26-year-old Toni Clark, her new job as a customer service representative represented a step up from her previous job as a medical assistant at a local nursing home.
Most of her workday is spent fielding six to seven calls an hour from insurance company customers who want to know about their coverage, Clark said.
Loyiso Matanda, 25, said his job as a customer service representative is a big improvement over his third shift factory job with a temporary agency and a part-time job at Buffalo Wild Wings. His biggest challenge is dealing with customers who have been fed the wrong information about their insurance coverage, Matanda said.
Douglas Kearney, Dialog Direct’s president and CEO, said customer service representatives like Clark and Matanda can expect to earn from $23,000 to $35,000 a year. But the company also offers advancement opportunities that can result in an income of $45,000 to $50,000 a year, he said.
“The people who are interested in making it a career can do very well,” Kearney said.
Michigan is an ideal location for call centers because its workforce is “over-educated and under-employed,” said Matt Zemon, chairman of Jobs4America, a North Carolina- based trade group for the domestic call center industry.
Michigan residents’ “neutral accent” and work ethic also add to the state’s appeal for call centers, said Zemon, who presented Snyder and Michigan Economic Development Corp. president Michael Finney with its “Spirit of America” award for their support of the call center industry.
“In just the past 18 months in Michigan 3,827 jobs were created in the customer call center industry with more than a third coming from Dialog Direct,” said Zemon said.
Wednesday’s celebration came four years after NOVO1, Dialog Direct’s corporate predecessor, held a ribbon cutting ceremony in Holland to announce the company’s arrival in West Michigan.
While the center originally planned to create 75 jobs during the first year and ultimately employ 300 people, the Holland center now employs more than 700 workers who respond to insurance questions, assist in roadside emergencies and sell medical products, according to Kearney.
Dialog Direct’s new facility in Cascade Township can be expanded up to 30,000-square=-eet and accommodate up to 400 employees, the company said.
“With the addition of our Grand Rapids Customer Engagement Center, Dialog Direct now has a very solid base of operations in Michigan,” Kearney said in a statement.
“Our growth here has been made possible by terrific people and an economic environment that nurtures business growth.”
Collectively, Dialog Direct executives said they employ more than 2,000 workers in Michigan with an annual payroll more than $60 million. In total, Dialog Direct maintains 12 customer engagement centers, occupies 1 million square feet of space and provides customer support in 11 languages.
In a hive of cubicles at the Dialog Direct offices in Highland Park, Mich., Keontay Kelley and other employees answer calls through headsets.
While they work, LED signs on the walls flash reminders: "Manners Matter," "Phone Etiquette," "Yes Ma'am/Sir," "Thank You" and "I Apologize." The room buzzes with conversation, the sound of hundreds of metro Detroiters earning paychecks.
"I was looking for a job, " said Kelley, 26, of Detroit. "This did it."
After years of sending call center jobs to India, the Philippines, Mexico and other countries, companies are bringing them back to the U.S. An estimated 5 million Americans are employed in call centers.
The trend, industry watchers said, is driven by changes in technology, rising overseas labor costs — and customers demanding better service.
Dialog Direct, which employs about 800 people in its Highland Park headquarters, announced recently it is planning to add 500 more — 300 in Highland Park and 200 in its Grand Rapids offices. Another call center company, S&P Data, said it plans to add 420 employees at its offices in Troy.
So far this year, the Michigan Economic Development Corp. estimated, at least 1,400 call center jobs have been created in the state.
"We're all about more and better jobs," said Amy Cell, senior vice president for talent enhancement at the MEDC. "Call centers offer great entry-level opportunities for new college graduates or people trying to get a foothold in customer service fields."
Kelley, a Ferris State graduate, has worked at Dialog Direct for less than a year.
He said he enjoys working there. Some calls can be frustrating. But, he said, the job lets him work inside an office, wear professional attire — and, best of all, the work lets him feel like he's helping solve people's problems, he said.
"I like to be the knight in shining armor," he said.
In his experience, Kelley said, callers appreciate that the center is in the U.S.
Doug Kearney, Dialog Direct's president and CEO, said "a lot of jobs are coming back to the U.S." In the next few years, he said, he expects more growth in the industry as customers increasingly turn to social media.
Companies began sending call center jobs overseas years ago because they sought to reduce labor costs, said Matt Zemon, chairman of the nonprofit group Jobs4America based in Chapel Hill, N.C.
But in recent years, as overseas labor costs have increased, companies have been reversing some of those decisions, he said. Some companies also found that customers were unhappy with the service from overseas call centers.
By Zemon's count, about 180,000 call center jobs were created nationally in 2012 and 2013.
Calls mean money
Paul Stockford, the director of research for the National Association of Call Centers in Hattiesburg, Miss., said the nonprofit membership group estimates there are about 66,000 call centers in the U.S., with that number expected to grow.
Companies are still using overseas centers to handle sales calls involving low-price, low-margin items and also to address calls seeking technical help. "The higher the value of the customer, the more likely the job will be in the U.S.," he said.
If a customer is confused or dissatisfied, it could cost a company sales, and they don't want to miss out on opportunities, especially when it comes to big-ticket items. Stockford pointed to airlines, which are selling plane tickets worth hundreds, even thousands of dollars.
United Airlines has a reservation center in Dearborn.
In addition, he said, while many call center jobs are entry level, they require skills — and expertise — that can lead to advancement.
"Lots of people make a career out of it," he said. "Other people get burned out. If you're picking up a phone, and you've got someone screaming in your ear for something you didn't do, it can be very frustrating."
GM brings jobs back
Last year, General Motors started moving call center jobs from overseas to the U.S.
GM closed a call center in Buenos Aires and moved most of the work to a customer engagement center, where it employs about 300 contractors to address customer calls and social media posts. GM managers now oversee the workers, who are in offices closer to the engineers and top leaders, said Klaus-Peter Martin, a GM spokesman.
To deal with questions and concerns related to recalls and other issues, GM temporarily reassigned more workers to the center, he added.
Carlettia Ellis, 24, of Detroit answers customer service calls at the Dialog Direct call center in Highland Park, Mich.(Photo: Jessica J. Trevino, Detroit Free Press)
A big part of the move back to domestic call centers, Martin said, was to shift efforts away from mostly documenting and escalating customer complaints to trying to resolve them quicker and on the same call, if possible.
"We want to provide the best possible service," Martin said, pointing out that a bad experience on the phone with a GM representative could result in a lost sale for the company. "Every touch point is an opportunity."
Job requires patience
At Benton Harbor-based Whirlpool, all of its customer service calls from domestic customers are answered in U.S. call centers.
The company employs nearly 500 agents at a call center in Benton Harbor and another 250 customer support employees in St. Joseph. It also has a center in Cleveland, Tenn., which employs 600, and a center in Knoxville, Tenn., with about 150 employees.
Earlier this year, AT&T announced it was hiring workers in Michigan for call center jobs.
In late 2011, as AT&T was seeking to buy T-Mobile, the communications giant announced it planned to bring back 5,000 call center jobs that had been sent overseas. It touted the plan as the largest commitment by a company to bring jobs back to the U.S. since 2008.
But, the bid was abandoned. AT&T said, "That initiative didn't happen."
Dialog Direct, which employs about 2,000 workers in Michigan, expects to continue growing nationally — and in Michigan. It offers most starting employees from $22,000 to $45,000. In many cases, the company will pay for training and reimburse costs for licenses.
"It's a job that requires patience," said Kelley, who hopes to make a long career out of it. "But, if you have that patience and you are about serving people, you can do it."
Call-center company said today it is preparing to hire 175 customer-service and sales representatives this month and next.
Hundreds of new jobs in Davenport will give the Quad City Area a nice boost. APAC, a customer service center near the Mount Joy Airport, is expanding. The call center is looking to fill 500 customer service positions by the end of the year. Already, APAC has hired 74 new employees, and seeing around 150 applicants each week. The Quad Cities Chamber said the additional adds dollar signs and other jobs to the economy, "500 jobs and 500 new paychecks will add another 143 jobs to our economy, so there's an indirect impact in addition to these job announcements, and roughly that means every year our economy will benefit by 36 and half million dollars," said Tara Barney, from the QC Chamber.
Unemployment across the county and across Colorado remains stuck at about 8%. Analysts expect the hiring outlook to stay sluggish in the months ahead. So an announcement of 500 new full-time jobs that pay a decent salary is encouraging to those who've been looking for work for months.
Sitel is planning on hiring 250 for its call center and "Work@Home Solutions" operations in Las Cruces. The Las Cruces facility handles customer service calls for the banking industry and technical support calls for the satellite TV industry.
On Thursday, NOVO 1 announced it plans to hire 600 workers: 300 at its Fort Worth call center in the Centreport office park just south of Dallas/Fort Worth Airport, 100 in Denison and 200 in Holland, Mich.
Telemarketing giant DialAmerica is planning to add at
least 70 people to its Amherst workforce as part of a nationwide
expansion, fueled by new contracts and expanded business. Read more at: http://www.bizjournals.com/buffalo/news/2011/11/23/dialamerica-adding-jobs-in-wny.html?s=print