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Distribution & Logistics

Call center reverses work-from-home trend, eyes Greenville

Distribution & Logistics
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Transcom officials believe campus-like brick-and-mortar locations will help foster community and collaboration among employees and partners. (Photo/Provided)Transcom, a 30,000-employee call center company, was at the vanguard of the work-from-home trend long before COVID-19.

And like so many call centers over the past few decades, the Stockholm-based firm withdrew its brick-and-mortar presence in the United States.

But all that started changing. Fast. Faster than the traditional outsourced customer service troubleshooting session, the company might argue.

After the company severed it link to public investors in 2017 and began to grow in 2018, Transcom began to realize the competitive advantage of having American customer service professionals to take care of American customers. As e-commerce and high-tech queries continue to mushroom, so has the demand for more complex customer service relations.

“There are companies within our industry that have grown as much as 30% year over year,” said Donald Berryman, vice president and chief commercial officer of Transcom’s North American operations. “There are a number of our clients that are moving some of those technologically-savvy calls back to the U.S. They need a workforce that can handle that.”

To attract these American professionals, the company will begin bringing some staff into offices that company officials say help foster corporate community and collaboration. 

“We have a number of U.S. customers that we service in Europe,” Berryman told GSA Business Report. “The U.S. consumer base is the largest in the world, and most of the buyers of our outsourced services are in the U.S., so we’re really trying to expand.”

The company re-established a U.S. presence in Denver, but all U.S. employees work from home. 

That will change soon, as the company has short-listed Greenville among four locations for its new U.S. operations hub, set to open in January. 

“We started with 125 cities in the U.S. and narrowed it down pretty dramatically to about 30, and in those 30, we were really focused on what client would be next, where should we put our location and where are most of our people,” he said. 

Berryman talks with reporters about the potential move to Greenville. (Photo/Provided)Transcom plans to hire 100 associates, most to work in the office at its next location. As revenue increases — they had an 11% spike last year — the company expects 500 employees on location.

“But we could grow to a thousand, so we are looking for a place that could be one hub, and then if we could be in a business park — kind of like this,” he said, referring to Greenville’s Park 37. “Or others that we’ve seen around here. There’s one down the road that we’re looking at as well — that could house a couple locations within the same business park. Which makes a lot of sense to us.”

That setup would open opportunities for shared tech infrastructure, he added.

“It gives that campus feel that is very similar to what a lot of our clients operate out of,” said Kyla Starks, senior vice president of Transcom’s North American operations.

The decision, set to be finalized in the first week of November, awaits feedback from the state’s Commerce Department, but the company has prepared for a Greenville landing with location-specific hiring notices for a site director and trainer.

Operations would begin in January, he said, in tandem with the launch of a contract with a North American client that usually relies on in-house call centers.

In the months ahead, 80% of Transcom’s U.S. employees will make the morning commute, while 20% will hold the fort at home. 

“People want that flexibility to be able to work from home, but they want to have that connection too,” Starks said, adding that the workforce is searching for an in-person community. “How can you really connect to the community where your people are if you don’t have a base there?”

Alongside an existing pool of talent, mild weather has also played a prominent role in selecting a base, as has a location accessible by land and air.

“What do we think will be a great base of operations, a place where we will grow and, most importantly, one where our employees will love coming to work and come to work every day, and two, where our clients like coming to: a community that they like to visit and don’t mind spending the days or weeks or even a month here while they’re training,” said Berryman, naming criteria for their new hub. “And so, we found here in Greenville, a very positive environment. Probably, most importantly, a workforce we can sustain for many years.”

Reach Molly Hulsey at 864-720-1223.

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