News : Virginia Official Takes Tour of Call Center
Lebanon, VA, USA, March 25, 2015 -- Virginia Secretary of Commerce and Trade Maurice Jones took a tour of the AT&T call center in Lebanon on Wednesday, as part of a region-wide trip this week.
"Really, I came to listen to the experience that in particular the call center is having with employees, what they’re looking for, how they measure success," Jones said. "This is clearly one of the best call centers that AT&T has anywhere, and you always want to know what the secret sauce is."
The call center has hired about 60 people in the last three months, said Director Tony Barton. And 15 more are expected to be hired per month for the rest of the year, said Harry Rutherford, chairman of the Russell County Industrial Development Authority.
Barton said the hiring boost is driven by an increase in the customer base.
"With any product launch over the holidays — when the iPhone 6 launched — we saw an increase in customer base then," he said. "There’s many things that drive call volume, but as volume goes up, you need additional folks to support the volume, and that’s really the ultimate driving factor."
Jones said Virginia has a strong workforce, and the highest percentage of employees with technology experience in the country.
"One in 10 Virginia employees in the private sector has technology experience," Jones said.
"If we can give the AT&Ts of the world the confidence that Virginia’s workforce is the best prepared for the jobs, we’ll keep announcing these expansions. ... That’s really the job to be done," he said.
The workforce in Southwest Virginia is going to have to change, he said.
"The workforce out here has experience in mining, has experience in agriculture, has experience in manufacturing, has experiences that make them comfortable with hard work," Jones said. "And that is always an asset. In addition, my sense of the workforce here is that relative to some other places, the workforce is likely to be more loyal to an employer that is loyal to them. And you have a workforce that is attempting to transition from an economy that was overwhelmingly propelled by coal to an economy that will need more sources of job generation. That workforce is trying to get prepared for that. I’d say you have a workforce that is hungry for change, for transformation. And we’ll try to be there for them."
Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent
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Published: Tuesday, March 31, 2015