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News : Citi to Close Guilford Call Center, Retain Workers at Home
Feb 7, 2014 -- Citigroup plans to close the call center that it has maintained in the Carolina Corporate Center in Whitsett since 2004 by the middle of this year, but the move will not cause additional job losses, according to a company spokesperson.
Janis Tarter of Citi - Consumer Banking Public Affairs confirmed that employees were first notified last summer that the jobs at that facility would be transitioned to "work from home" positions by mid-2014. That applies to all 300 employees currently located at the facility, she said.
"We reached this decision as part of an ongoing evaluation to find ways to increase the efficiency and cost effectiveness of our operations while giving employees flexible work options," Tarter said. "Citi has had a presence in the Greensboro area since 2003 and we remain committed to the area."
Tarter said there are already about 100 employees in the area working off-site in addition to the 300 at the call center. She said the company expects to still have about 400 total employees in the area after the physical office is closed.
While the office closure itself won't cause more job losses, Citi's presence has already declined dramatically through the years. The call center had about 1,000 employees in 2011 and as many as 1,635 back in 2006, according to past Business Journal research.
Most recently, the company last April cut 25 jobs from the center. Tarter said that reduction was part of a global "repositioning" undertaken by Citi that cut about 6,200 positions in the consumer banking division worldwide.
Citi (NYSE: C) received state and local incentives to build and open the facility with the expectation of 900 employees there by 2005.
But a combination of reduced demand for live customer service from card holders who manage their accounts online and improved technology that allows calls to be distributed and managed effectively to workers at home has had a big impact on the employment needs of call center operators.
Those trends have already stung in the Triad, most dramatically in early 2011 when American Express announced it would close its 25-year-old call center off Bryan Boulevard in Greensboro and eliminate 1,900 jobs. Employment at that massive facility had peaked at around 3,800 in the 1990s.
Dan Lynch, president of the Greensboro Economic Development Alliance, said American Express also moved some of their employees to work-at-home positions, and it's not too surprising to see it happening again. American Express is believed to still have several hundred in the Triad handling customer calls from home.
"That may be a trend we're seeing," he said. "It certainly beats the alternative of laying folks off and shutting down entirely. So from that standpoint at least it's a positive outcome, in that those employees will still be working."
Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent
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Citigroup Inc. (branded Citi), is a major American financial services company based in New York, NY. Citigroup was formed from one of the world's largest mergers in history by combining the banking giant Citicorp and financial conglomerate Travelers Group on April 7, 1998.
Published: Monday, February 10, 2014