Call centers to remain key for the area

By Gabriela Rico Arizona Daily Star
Laura Shaw Arizona Daily Star file

A.E. Araiza / Arizona Daily Star

One of C3/Customer Contact Channels’ local call centers is at 1150 W. Drexel Road. The business more than doubled its Tucson workforce between 2014 and 2015.

Tucson continues to see growth in call centers, which many people bemoan, but with its flexibility, the industry is key for the area, economic development leaders say.

“Customer service centers as an industry can be a misunderstood aspect of our local economy,” said Laura Shaw, vice president of marketing for Sun Corridor Inc.

“Overall, many of our centers are experiencing heavier workloads and thus expanding due to an abundance of quality, customer-service focused labor, the availability of a bilingual workforce and convenient location in a Mountain Time Zone.”

Call-center operator C3/Customer Contact Channels more than doubled its Tucson workforce from 2014 to 2015, for example, making it the fastest-growing company in Southern Arizona.

Shaw said customer service centers have “reinvented” themselves and offer better pay, bonuses, benefits and flex schedules.

“In some cases, creative extras, such as onsite cafeterias, child care, partial/full education reimbursement, flex hours and telecommuting are offered,” Shaw said. “A strong economy relies on many types of employers and employees. These jobs are solid opportunities for many Tucsonans.”

She said call centers got a bad reputation for being low-wage jobs with little path to advancement, but with some companies bringing call centers back in-house, the level of training and retention has improved.

Comcast announced in 2015 that it will occupy the former American Home Furnishings building on North Oracle Road, north of Tucson Mall, and will hire more than 1,100 workers.

“Large corporations are bringing back customer service functions in-house and establishing their own call centers like Comcast, ADP and Bayview Asset Management, to name a few locally,” Shaw said.

“Every center is different, but in general we see company-owned call centers require high educational attainment for job applicants, and for those who land jobs, high starting wage levels, excellent benefits and advancement opportunities.

“The bilingual capabilities of our workforce are an important component of the assets our region can offer many employers, including call centers,” she said.
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