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Telus to Open Las Vegas Contact Center, Expand in Central America

February 12, 2009
It’s ‘Vegas, Baby’ for Telus’s newest contact center. The Calgary Herald newspaper reports that the Western Canada-based communications firm will open a new facility next month in Las Vegas, Nev. that will eventually house up to 1,000 agents and supervisors.
 
At the same time it’s ‘Bienvenido’ for over 2,000 new hires at the company’s three Central American contact centers, as well as welcome for teams of new support staff in Canada.
 
The new Las Vegas site and Central American expansion will provide added customer care and support for Telus’s fast-growing Telus International division, which supplies customer care, IT, and business process outsourcing (BPO) solutions to enterprises globally.  These investments will give the unit much-needed added Spanish language capabilities, which are not readily available in Canada as it has a very small Hispanic population, along with greater English-language handling capacity.
 
Telus spokesperson Shawn Hall explains that Las Vegas was chosen from 47 American cities, in part due to its large, fluent Spanish and English speaking labor pool.
“The City of Las Vegas stood head and shoulders above in how they were willing to work with us,” he said.
 
Las Vegas has arguably one of the best cadres of potential contact center agents in the world. The workforce has exceptional customer service skills, honed in the city’s justifiably famed and demanding casino, hospitality, and entertainment industries. Even off duty, like when asked how to get somewhere while riding the monorail that links the casinos, hotels, and the city’s convention center, these individuals are unfailingly polite, helpful, patient, and courteous. They are also accustomed to working at all hours. Contact center site selection consultants have long recommended ‘Vegas for those reasons. 

The new contact center is the result of a tentative agreement between Telus and the Las Vegas Redevelopment Agency. The firm signed a 51-month, $2.9 million lease for office space.
 
Helping to seal the deal is the weak U.S. economy that has led to a downturn in the gaming industry.  Gambling Online magazine reported that Nevada casino revenues had decreased by 10 percent this year compared to last, which it says is “the first ever successive downturn in casino revenues ever to be announced” and which has prompted them to cut prices.
 
Observers who attended conferences in Las Vegas in early October, 2008 verify this. They noted even then how sparse the casino traffic was. Even on a Saturday night, which they were told would be packed a year previous there was plenty of room to walk about, with many gaming areas unoccupied and with seats to be easily found in bars and in restaurants. 

“The city of Las Vegas Redevelopment Agency has been working extremely hard to attract businesses like Telus to the city to create new jobs in these difficult economic times," City of Las Vegas spokesperson Jace Radke told the newspaper.
Las Vegas is not the only source of Spanish-speaking staff that Telus International is tapping into. It is hiring 2,200 agents and supervisors for contact centers in Guatemala, El Salvador, and Panama.
 
When asked why the Spanish-language support was split with Las Vegas, Telus’s Hall explains that the firm wanted geographic diversity in case of man-made or natural disasters and also the ability to provide additional English-language support. Most of Telus International’s English-speaking agents are in The Philippines, with some in South Korea. Telus International’s parent has separate teams of English-and French-speaking contact center agents in Canada, including those working from home, to serve the country’s domestic business and consumer markets.
 
To support the growth Telus International is adding accountants, lawyers, marketing, and public relations staff in Canada; its head office is in Singapore. All told the unit will have 10,000 employees worldwide by the end of 2010 from 7,000 currently.
 
 “The contact center industry is maturing, and many corporations worldwide are looking to consolidate their contact center and BPO services with a single provider for economy and simplicity,” explains Hall. “We are becoming that partner of choice for many companies. Adding Spanish and bilingual English-Spanish language capacities, backed by our strengthened support teams, furthers our quest to become that contact center provider of choice.”

Brendan B. Read is TMCnet’s Senior Contributing Editor. To read more of Brendan’s articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Jessica Kostek
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