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News : Madison Call Center Faces Challenges Staffing its Expansion
Madison, WI, USA, Feb 4, 2015 -- Back in April, when the state announced taxpayer incentives for a planned expansion with new jobs at a small Madison call center, state and company officials were brimming with optimism about the project.
Department of Workforce Development secretary Reggie Newson said the aid would "quickly and nimbly ramp up" business at SPi Global Madison, where employees sell Internet and television packages for Dish Network.
Mark Belcher, director of operations at the call center, also known as Laserwords, in April said he expected to make all of the 286 hires pledged for the aid in two to three months, far more quickly than the three years to make the hires allowed in the incentives contract with the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp.
But it hasn’t worked out as planned. Some nine months later, SPi Global Madison has approximately 100 employees, Belcher said, which is just some 60 more than when the incentives were announced.
Belcher said Laserwords’ parent company, Philippines-based SPi Global, chose Madison to be the site of its first U.S.-based call center in June 2013 because of its educated workforce, plus the state incentives.
The problem is that Madison-area residents seem to be a tougher sell for the call center jobs than expected, Belcher said, noting potential applicants may doubt the company’s pitch that the top 10 percent of employees can earn the annual equivalent of $50,000 to $75,000 during busy times.
"Madison is very unique in our business," Belcher said, noting it was easier to hire large numbers of qualified people quickly at SPi Global’s other call centers, which are all in lower-wage foreign locales, including India, China, Vietnam and the Philippines for the past 20 years.
"We’re still happy with our Madison location," he added. "Our clients love the quality of the people we have hired. They are top-performing. But (the workforce) didn’t grow as fast as I anticipated it would. This was a new market for us, and I was probably overly optimistic (on hiring)."
To address the job vacancies, Belcher said he was planning a new recruiting push that he hoped would raise the call center payroll to 150 in the coming months.
"We’re going to put together a campaign that celebrates our two-year anniversary and start showing off some of the top 10 percent and what they’re earning," he said.
The call center jobs in Madison start at $11 an hour, plus commission.
When the incentives were announced in April, Belcher said the average employee at Laserwords earned $15 an hour including commissions, for a total of about $30,000 per year, plus benefits including health insurance, disability and three weeks paid vacation.
Interested job applicants can see position descriptions and apply online.
Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent
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About SPi Global:
SPi Global Solutions is one of the world's largest and most diversified Knowledge Process Outsourcing and Customer Interaction service providers in the industry in terms of clients, geographic presence, and capabilities with more than 14,000 dedicated employees globally. For more than 30 years, we have been offering Fortune 500 companies a full roster of high quality, innovative, end-to-end solutions. Our clients look to us for: 22a wide range of voice and non-voice BPO solutions 22the broadest global delivery network with 24 locations spanning North America, Europe, and Asia 22the ability to effectively combine deep domain knowledge with our core capabilities to deliver high quality, single source solutions that provide cost-efficiencies, scalability and exceptional customer care.
Published: Friday, February 6, 2015