Comcast will build a new call center in the Spokane area that brings 675 jobs to the region, the company announced Tuesday.
The Internet and cable television company hasn’t selected the location but is looking at property in Spokane Valley and Liberty Lake, said Ken Watts, Comcast’s general manager in Spokane.
It’s one of three new customer-service centers Comcast will open this year. The others are in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and Tucson, Arizona. Together, the three facilities will create more than 2,000 jobs.
Watts said the Spokane center will handle inbound customer retention and sales calls. Jobs to be filled include customer service, human resources, training and management, according to a news release. The jobs include benefits such as health and dental insurance, a 401(k) retirement savings plan and tuition reimbursement.
He declined to give specific pay ranges, but said total pay and benefits for employees at the Spokane call center is expected to be $27 million a year.
Hiring already has begun, and Comcast will add about 80 people every six weeks to staff the center.
The new call centers are part of a companywide push to improve customer service, Watts said.
Comcast has had some high-profile customer-service failures in the recent past, including an incident in which an unnamed representative changed a Spokane customer’s name on her bill to “Asshole Brown” after she tried to cancel her cable.
The company’s service record was mentioned repeatedly in connection with its bid to take over Time Warner Cable, which itself has significant problems in that area. That $45 billion deal collapsed two weeks ago.
“Customer service has changed drastically, and we need to be a leader at customer service,” Watts said Tuesday. “We need to have a new approach on customer service.”
Company CEO Brian Roberts said at a news conference Tuesday in Chicago that publicity about some customer-service issues like the one in Spokane were “a rallying cry inside the company.”
Watts said the Spokane area was chosen because of the quality of the workforce, educational opportunities, work ethic and “sense of community.”
Wendy Smith, industry manager for Greater Spokane Incorporated, the region’s chamber of commerce, said Comcast checked out Spokane for a call center about a year and a half ago. Ultimately, company officials chose another location, but liked the region enough that they came back.
Comcast was not offered state incentives for opening the call center in Spokane other than some training assistance, Smith said. The company hasn’t said whether it will use that program, she said.
Comcast expects to announce an interim location for the call center soon as well as a permanent location. It’s anticipating a $7 million construction project to build an 80,000-square-foot facility.
The company already has three large call centers in Western Washington.
With the addition of the call center in Spokane, Comcast will employ a total of about 900 people here.