Newark 4311 is a non-emergency hotline designed to be used by city residents that, in most cases, is usually only in operation only from Monday to Friday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. However, the hours of operation dramatically changed as Newark Mayor Cory Booker ordered the contact center to remain open 24 hours for three days straight, in order to get help to those who needed immediate relief from Tropical Storm Irene. Seven contact center agents took turns working three eight-hour shifts. The call center has the ability to handle Spanish language contact center solutions, as well as English and Portuguese.
Spanish and Portuguese are the languages that are most widely spoken within the city's East Ward neighborhood, where a majority of people suffered adverse affects from the storm. Needs for callers ranged from information about shelters, downed trees and power lines, to road closures, flooding and public transportation schedules. The need for multilingual agents dramatically increased as a large number of calls continued to come in.
The recent article revealed that James Bennett, manager of Newark 4311 said the center received almost 570 calls total during its 72-hour operation from 7 p.m. Friday to 7 a.m. Monday, "It was sort of business as usual in an accelerated fashion."
In order to keep track of the storm, fluent Spanish speaking agents from Newark such as Nieves were constantly checking the progress of the storm from two different computer screens, "One was the news and the other was tracking the hurricane and we were counting down the hours (until it hit Newark)."
Oliveira, another agent stated, "It was a little tiring, but with coffee and a lot of sugar and a lot of food and constantly watching the news … now we're back to normal."
In related news, TMCnet reported that Computer Generated Solutions (News - Alert) (CGS), a provider of information technology (IT) solutions, software and service, opened a new contact center in Sibiu, Romania that will expand its Spanish language contact center solutions offerings within the country.
Through its Sibiu Spanish language contact center solutions hub, CGS will provide 600 jobs for multilingual speakers that are fluent in both German and Spanish. The facility contains three fully equipped training rooms with seating for over 80 trainees, two meeting rooms, a data center and video conference capabilities.
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Jamie Epstein is a TMCnet Web Editor. Previously she interned at News 12 Long Island as a reporter's assistant. After working as an administrative assistant for a year, she joined TMC (News - Alert) as a Web editor for TMCnet. Jamie grew up on the North Shore of Long Island and holds a bachelor's degree in mass communication with a concentration in broadcasting from Five Towns College. To read more of her articles, please visit her columnist page.
Edited by Rich Steeves