Call Center Hiring Lights Up

Echoing a recent report that Arizona is a hot job market, health benefits company Humana, Inc. is scheduled to open two new call centers in Phoenix and Tempe. To accommodate this growth, the company plans to hire more than 530 workers.

In Phoenix, the company has plans to open a state-of-the-art, 63,000 sq. ft. telemarketing call center with 330 workers to support its Medicare Advantage business. Available positions at this call center include telesales specialists, Rx enrollment specialists, client specialists, quality assurance specialists, administrative assistants, and supervisors. This Phoenix call center is Humana’s sixth telemarketing unit. The company has five other call-center locations: two in Tampa, one in Miramar, Florida, one in Doral, Florida, and one in Puerto Rico.

In nearby Tempe, a separate call center with 200 employees will focus on the company’s mail-order prescription services. The company plans to have both centers fully staffed by January 2008. Known as the “RightSource Customer Care Call Center,” the company is seeking customer care associates, team leads, front-line leaders, workforce analysts, and managers. The Tempe facility also has the capacity for additional growth to reach 550 to 600 employees.

The company currently has 665 employees in Arizona.

Cable and Phone Call Centers Expand

Sprint Nextel Corp. says it will expand its call center in Panama City Beach, Florida, and add 225 full-time employees by the end of January 2008. This news comes almost six months after it laid off 100 customer-care representative positions from the facility as part of a nationwide layoff. The company says these new employees, however, will be part of a team working on a new national quality-control department.

West Corp. is looking to hire about 200 workers by November, adding to a call center based in Niles, Ohio, that currently employs about 1,000.

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The company’s two primary customers are DISH Network and AT&T. To handle incoming customer service calls, workers will assist with routine billing and activation questions. The call center reps will also handle calls about service for the Apple iPhone (AT&T provides wireless service for the iPhone). The company says it is offering $10 an hour for these new workers.

Call Center Rumors: Who is Closing?

On the flip side of all of this call-center hiring, rumors continue to swirl that Dell may close its customer contact center near Waco, Texas, which currently employs between 400 and 500.

However, Dell has no official comment, citing its policy not to comment on rumor or speculation.

And contrary to news reports stating otherwise, there is no truth to news reports that Wal-Mart has decided to shut down its walmart.com call center after determining customer phone support is no longer needed. The company says that, although it made website improvements to handle customer queries for purchases made on walmart.com, the website improvements will not affect customer service staffing.

But it is true that food-giant Kraft will close a Pennsylvania call center, resulting in the loss of 61 jobs in Lehigh Valley. The call center will be closed by next July, with the remaining positions moving to a Georgia facility that will handle East Coast calls. Kraft blames recent layoffs — it announced last year it will eliminate 8,000 jobs and close up to 20 factories — on higher costs for ingredients and competition from generic brands.

Elaine Rigoli has nearly 15 years of experience managing content and community for various B2B and consumer websites. Elaine has written thousands of business and technology articles and has been quoted in The Wall Street Journal and eWeek, among other publications.

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