AT&T Opens Broadband Supporting Contact Center
March 06, 2009
In what may be a sign of more developments to come, AT&T has opened a new $7 million customer technical support contact center in Little Rock, Ark., reports the Associated Press, in a story carried by Forbes. The facility, planned for two years, and which will assist AT&T (News - Alert) broadband subscribers in 13 states, will employ 189 agents, managers, and other staff and will be fully open by the summer.
The Little Rock contact center will join six others in AT&T’s network that employs 2,000 people that the wire service said in “part of an effort by the telecom giant to shift 5,000 positions from overseas back to the United States.”
The new contact center’s opening is well-timed. It will partially compensate for job losses expected from Alltel’s (News - Alert) acquisition by Verizon Wireless said Arkansas Governor Mike Beebe. Alltel has had nearly 3,000 staff at its Little Rock, headquarters.
The new facility may not be the last of its kind. U.S. President Barack Obama’s economic stimulus plan will spend more than $7 billion on new broadband connectivity to rural and underserved areas.
AT&T is reportedly the nation's largest broadband provider, with more than 14.8 million subscribers, including for high speed Internet access, AT&T U-verse TV service and satellite broadband services. The AP/Forbes story said AT&T has already spent $525 million since 2006 in expanding its broadband service area to reach smaller communities in the state.
The contact center is well-designed and state of the art. The AP article describes “exposed supports and shiny ductwork overhead [that] gives way to carefully lit, curved black and wood-grain work stations that give a flow to the setting.” It pointed to wide-screen TVs that show a combination of in-house information and the news of the day. They also enable staff to stay informed of daily events. “When a hurricane is moving toward the coast or when snow or ice is affecting an area, workers need to understand the larger issues behind customers' concerns, officials said. Also, each service center can add its own content.”
Ron Forwark, AT&T senior project manager, who developed several other centers before Little Rock's, told the wire service that he deployed features from what he had learned from the previous sites. Each desk has an emergency power supply so customers are not cut off if there is a power failure. The work stations are adjustable-height to permit employees to stand or sit at the levels they desire to maximize comfort. White noise from 53 speakers is pumped in to quell the chatter.
The center also has a lab with computers that run different operating systems: Microsoft (News - Alert) Vista, Windows XP, and Mac OSX Leopard. A worker can transfer a call to the lab, move to the appropriate computer and emulate the conditions the customer is working in to identify the cause of a problem.
The break area includes a ping pong table, an amenity chosen by local workers, and it has a quiet area, away from the din of the TVs.
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Brendan B. Read is TMCnet’s Senior Contributing Editor. To read more of Brendan’s articles, please visit his columnist page.
Edited by Michelle Robart