December 28, 2012
Inland Northwest Embraces Call Center Industry
By Colleen Lynch
In the Inland Northwest, call centers are continuing to expand. While the economy of the United States is in a time of significant struggle, there have been certain key industries that have fared better compared to others. Surprisingly, call centers have continued to weather the stormy economy through 2012 and have proven to be a stable provider of employment opportunities.
The reason behind this is that the Inland Northwest region is almost tailored to the call center space. There is large potential for growth and economic development, as well as a ready, willing and able workforce.
Robin Toth, vice president of Business Development for Greater Spokane Incorporated, commented on the appeal of working in the call center industry in her area, saying it is “actually a good starting job” due to its variety of work shifts and the opportunities to climb the industry ladder and learn skills for advancement. And the associated employee benefits are nothing to laugh at either.
“Back-office jobs like [call center occupations] significantly help an overall economy because they fill in so many gaps, whether it’s kids going to school, second (household) income, and they’re not just temporary. They can be permanent for the individuals that are working there,” explained Steve Griffits, president of the nonprofit Jobs Plus Inc., based in North Idaho.
The current economy has put many workers and their families in tough positions, and the call center business is starting to become the answer for many in the Pacific Time zone, where call center companies are looking to expand.
US Bank is one company which has recently opened a call center in the region, specifically in order to tap into the competent and eager labor force located there.
“I think our reputation as being a stable employer with a positive work environment has helped us out there in the community. Stability has especially been strong for us; there’s not a concern of layoffs,” said Scott Tostengard, vice president of the US Bank call center in question.
The thinking is that customers appreciate call centers located in and run through the United States—It makes the companies seem more caring and responsive to the customers rather than outsourcing their calls to somewhere outside the borders of the country to people who may or may not know how to respond to the customer’s questions.
The outlook for this industry in the Spokane and Kootenai areas is favorable, and it seems like a win-win situation: those looking for work are finding good jobs and those looking for workers are finding good workers. The call center industry can only benefit and continue to grow from there.
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Edited by Jamie Epstein