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Starbucks to Close Call Center at Headquarters, Outsources to Sitel

TMCnews Featured Article

January 15, 2010

Starbucks to Close Call Center at Headquarters, Outsources to Sitel

By Kelly McGuire, TMCnet Editor

While it’s no surprise the SMB market suffered the affects of the economic recession in 2009, it looks as if some major organizations also experienced the rash of the hard times.
Starbucks will be closing a 130 employee call center and its Seattle headquarters, leaving its customer feedback duties to an outside company in New Mexico at the end of September 2010.

With 78 employees and 52 contractors potentially out of jobs, the major coffee provider’s spokeswoman Stacey Krum said in a release that the move was the result of trying to manage customer feedback better, rather than a cost cutting more, as it so seems.
Sure it is Krum. As a once Starbuck lover myself, I got fed up of the rushed employees and impersonal service.
And, with Starbucks cutting costs including $580 million from expenses in its last fiscal year, maybe the general public is starting to realize a $4.95 coffee is no bargain.
But alas, Sitel, a privately held customer-service provider with operations in 27 countries, will now be handling customer calls regarding the high price of coffee, suggestions for improved service and anything else that flies under the call center radar.
“As we've grown, the number of calls we get fluctuates during the year,” Krum said. “Going to a third-party provider gives us flexibility to ramp up or down as needed.”

With Sitel’s state-of-the-art technology for managing calls and tracking customer feedback, the switch hopes to increase customer satisfaction and, inevitably, turn over more frequent retail visitors. 

Starbucks did not disclose details of its arrangement with Sitel.

The company hopes to find jobs for the affected employees elsewhere at Starbucks, Krum said. If laid off, employees will receive severance pay based on how long they've been with the company, plus help finding another job, she added.

Starbucks employs about 3,000 people at its headquarters south of downtown.

Kelly McGuire is a TMCnet Web editor, covering CRM and workforce technologies, and anchor of its daily TMC Newsroom video broadcast. Kelly also writes about eco-friendly "green" technologies and smart grids, compiling TMCnet's weekly e-Newsletters on those topics, as well as the cable industry. To read more of Kelly's articles, please visit her columnist page.

Edited by Kelly McGuire

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