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Do U.S. workers want call center jobs?

Marketplace Staff Aug 4, 2011
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STEVE CHIOTAKIS: The Labor Department said moments ago the number of people that filed for first time jobless claims fell slightly to 400,000. An interesting number, because it’s exactly the figure economists look at to determine how the job market is doing. Above 400,000: bad jobs news. Below — pretty good. So how do we read all of this, heading into tomorrow’s all-important monthly employment report?

Marketplace’s Gregory Warner is with us now live to talk about jobs. Good morning Gregory.

WARNER: Good morning.

CHIOTKAIS: So, how does this latest number play into the national employment picture?

WARNER: Well it is a slight improvement from last week — which in such a sluggish jobs market, any non-bad news is good news is a good thing. That, of course, in part explains the timing of today’s announcement by a coalition of call center and phone companies called Jobs For America, and they say they’re hoping they create up to 100,000 jobs in the next two years in the call center industry. A lot of these jobs coming back from being outsourced to places like India and the Philippines.

CHIOTKAIS: Are these jobs we want to create — the call center industry jobs?

WARNER: Well, I — I actually got to make a rare trip inside the call center, in Kentucky, last summer. You know, they call their business the ‘relationship management’ business. And call centers are finding that sometimes American employees are just better at customer management. If you call a center you’re already frustrated, you beat through your phone tree. You know, call center employees have to deal with a lot of human emotion. Here’s Carl Howe of the Yankee Group.

CARL HOWE: Very often consumers want somebody who’ll listen to them, and then do something about their problems. The problem is if you’re not part of this culture, it’s much hard to relate to those problems. It’s not something that can be done with a script.

WARNER: And speaking of a script, that’s why you’ll hear them use the same catchphrases like ‘I understand your frustration’ and ‘I’m so sorry to hear that.’ Apparently those phrases just sound more convincing in an American accent.

CHIOTKAIS: I understand your frustation, Gregory. Thank you so much, Gregory Warner reporting live for us.

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