Centers brighten job picture

Trainers Barbara Bennett (left) and Douglas Dishmond work with customer representative Necole Ramsey during a training session at Convergent ERS, a call center on Stevens Creek Road in Augusta. The Atlanta-based company hopes to employ 400 people locally by the end of 2011.

Training has begun for 26 new employees at the Convergent ERS facility on Stevens Creek Road.

An additional 23 are expected to begin training Monday to learn how to handle calls and questions from customers for the company, which collects bills for wireless companies and utilities.

"We're well on pace to get to that 140-, 150-person mark by the end of the year that we targeted," site manager Bob Nelson said.

If all goes as planned, the Atlanta-based company will employ 400 people by the end of 2011.

Training lasts about 4 1/2 weeks now but will be extended to 61/2 weeks this fall for later hires, Nelson said.

"It basically introduces our agents to the client system and the client expectations with how they want their clients dealt with and treated," he said.

Several customer service centers such as Convergent have come to Augusta in recent years, promising to increase job totals as they settle into the community.

In 2007, T-Mobile opened its Augusta customer service operations, saying it eventually planned to hire 750 people. By the end of 2009, about 400 employees were working at the call center, according to the Development Authority of Richmond County's most recent employment statistics.

Teleperformance opened in 2008, promising 325 jobs. The company is still hiring for positions such as pharmacy technicians to help with calls, and it was employing about 100 people at the end of 2009.

Automatic Data Processing came to Augusta in 2008, saying it planned to hire 1,000 workers once fully operational. By the end of 2009, it had about 600 workers, according to the development authority.

A spokeswoman for ADP said the company does not comment on employee numbers or hiring plans for specific facilities. Representatives from T-Mobile and Teleperformance did not return calls seeking more recent information.

Nelson said Convergent has had a good response from people searching for jobs, and the company will schedule an appointment with a recruiter for people who seem like they might be a good fit.

Want a job?

- Employment applications can be e-mailed to Lindsey Thorne, HR recruiting manager, at LThorne@ConvergentERS.com.

- Call Manfred Edelmann at the Augusta Career Center at (706) 721-5796.

- Check the career section of the Convergent Web site at www.convergentusa.com/Corp/careers/workenv.php.

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