Cloud-based call center provider is key to rural Tennessee workers
Broadband connectivity and new training program are critical to creating LiveOps jobs in depressed area
LiveOps, a cloud-based call center provider, today announced a deal with Vision Perry--a non-profit based in rural Tennessee--that demonstrates how broadband can create jobs in rural communities.
LiveOps contracts call center agents from around the country to serve a range of clients—from pizza chains to healthcare providers—using a traditional phone line and a broadband connection from their homes. Vision Perry took the idea a step further by creating a local center where people without an Internet connection could work for LiveOps. In addition, Vision Perry offers training for people who might not otherwise have met LiveOps requirements.
“We’re looking for people who can read something out loud as if they are having a conversation and be understood,” said Tim Whipple, vice president of community operations for LiveOps, in an interview. The company also is looking for people who are computer-literate because the broadband connection is used to connect to call center software housed in a LiveOps data center.
“The people from Tennessee are the nicest warmest people in the world,” said Whipple. “If you give them the basic skills, they’re the friendliest nicest people you’d want to be on the phone with.”
LiveOps now has about 40-50 people working in Perry county, Tennessee, an area that has experienced high unemployment since a factory that employed about 1,000 people closed. Initially, community leaders tried to entice another manufacturer to locate in the area—but with a location 30 miles off the interstate expressway, it was a tough sell.
The LiveOps ball got rolling when someone in town applied on line to be an agent, took the LiveOps voice test , was accepted and started earning money. The LiveOps opportunity gained momentum when Vision Perry established the training and local call center. The local call center was important because only about 25% of people in the area had broadband at home—often because they had been out of work for a couple of years and couldn’t afford the monthly cost.
Vision Perry was able to persuade a local ISP to provide connectivity to the center at a discounted rate, arguing that once people started earning money, they would be able to justify the expense of broadband service at home.
Some Perry county residents have begun to do other jobs remotely, such as computer coding and programming. “One agent is running training to become programmers for other companies,” Whipple said. “On-phone customer service is an excellent entry point for people who haven’t worked in a while.”
In the past, Whipple said, many people in Perry County would not have been contracted by LiveOps. Traditionally, he said, “I can sift through applicants and find people [from other areas] who sound great and have lots of sales and computer experience--people in Perry County wouldn’t make the cut if not for Vision Perry that gives them a head start and catches them up with the rest of the world.”
As a result of Vision Perry’s training programs, Whipple said, LiveOps applicants from Perry County now have what amounts to a seal of approval. “We’re taking less of a chance on the people from Perry County,” said Whipple.
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© 2013 Penton Media Inc.
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