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Call Center is ahead of schedule

PENN YAN—There are more than 140 new jobs in Yates County and in the next couple of weeks, that number is expected to rise to 200. The Connection call center is located in the former Iron Age building in the North Avenue Industrial Park in Penn Yan and the facility is a hub of activity. Finger Lakes Economic Development Center (FLEDC) Executive Director Steve Griffin recently said hiring has moved along more quickly than expected. The development center was actively involved in recruiting the company to Yates County.
The first class for employees was March 19 and on May 3, new employees were being trained in sections of the enormous building. Job fairs several weeks ago along with others scheduled soon are expected to grow the workforce to the target 450 employees by the end of the year.  Carlos Valdes offered a tour of the facility Monday as he described the work being done. On the main floor, cubicles fitted with computers and headsets are occupied by employees busy answering questions for Clearwire/Clear, an internet provider. After at least a week of training, two weeks for people answering technical calls, they begin to answer calls. At several work stations there were two individuals. Called side jockeys, it allows new employees to pair with more experienced ones after formal training is complete and they are ready to work on their own.
In addition to answering questions, employees also offer to sell bundled services to the callers. On the day of the visit, successful sales were being marked by ringing a bell. Incentives are offered to employees for sales that range from cash to coupons for gift cards and even a coupon that allows dressing down rather than business casual attire. Despite the need for accuracy on the phone, the atmosphere was relaxed, enhanced by a bright decoration hanging above the floor and the regular ringing of the bell.
Customers may also access a web chat line, another avenue of support that can cover billing, technical support or a bit of both. After training is completed, calls are monitored on a regular basis.
With 15 years experience in call centers, including opening call centers, Valdes has been a busy man. As the tour progressed, he greeted nearly every employee by name. He said he is “kind of the face of the call center right now.” He expects to meet even more staffers as the weeks go on. He said there are still some job fairs scheduled and the company gets about 10 or 15 “walk up” prospective employees every day and is hiring 20 to 30 a week. They are hoping to attract more employees from nearby areas, including a manager for the center.

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