It’s night, and Arlington’s massive 140,000-square-foot JPMorganChase customer care call center sits quietly. There’s no hum of headset-sporting employees helping clients all over the country reset passwords, confirm payments, check balances and perform myriad other service-related tasks. But by morning, the brightly lit room will buzz with professional yet friendly telephone conversation – even laughter, when a call-in customer is particularly cheery.
Weaving among the care specialists is Bonnie Ware, a recent graduate of Tarrant County College’s brand new call center program. In September 2015, she started her new job as a senior supervisor for Health Management Systems, responsible for reducing waste and fraud for medical billing companies. Ware could not be happier.
"I’d been in the industry years before as a customer service supervisor and call center manager," she said. "This program helped me refresh my skills and got me up to speed with new technologies really quickly. On a scale of one to 10, it’s definitely an 11."
"Creating a call center program like this was a natural opportunity for us," said Jennifer Hawkins, director of corporate services for TCC’s Community & Industry Education Services.
We work directly with businesses, community economic development organizations and industry associations to develop customized training solutions that help Tarrant County’s workforce thrive and grow.
TCC Director Jennifer Hawkins
"That’s what we did for, and with, JPMorganChase. We designed a custom curriculum, trained instructors and in less than six months, were up and running," Hawkins said.
The six-week course of small classes, with six to eight students, consists of intensive workplace simulations, followed by critical feedback from both instructor and students. Graduates are guaranteed interviews with the bank and if hired, are exempt from the two-year call center experience requirement. Since the program opened in July 2015, 29 students have received their completion certificates and most everyone has a job, either at Chase or another company.
The program’s success is also garnering attention from other institutions. San Francisco-based Wells Fargo wants a customized program for its Tarrant County call center, too.
Hawkins also notes that her department’s ability to tailor personalized course offerings is a factor in attracting new businesses to the Tarrant County area. Klein Tools, a 158-year-old private company headquartered in Illinois, opened its first of three state-of-the-art manufacturing facilities in Mansfield, Texas, in 2011. The company has taken advantage of a number of TCCD’s customized class offerings to develop manufacturing talent for its workplaces.
"TCC is a great partner for Klein Tools and works with us to identify services that add value to our workplaces," said Michael Klein, manufacturing director and a sixth-generation leader in the family-run company.
There’s no question that as the community continues to identify and address skill gaps in the workplace, TCC will continue to be a key partner for us and all of Tarrant County.
Klein Tools Director Michael Klein
"Thus far, TCC has trained 80 people to help Klein grow its business and give back to the community," added Hawkins.
She also pointed to GE Transportation as an example of TCC’s powerful reach and dedication to innovative partnerships. "We got an early heads-up that they were coming and we worked closely with North Central College Flower Mound – shared the spotlight, so to speak – and our two schools and boards worked together to make sure the customer got what they needed in terms of basic machine training as well as advanced customized programs to exactly fit their needs. We’ve already trained 56 people with more on the way. It’s a great partnership all around."
Hawkins, who joined TCC as a part-time instructor nine years ago, began her current role in 2010. "The Texas Workforce Commission was offering to help offset training costs for businesses and they had the funds to invest. So we created a grant writing team and off we went." She has not looked back since.
"We’re all about strengthening the Tarrant County business community through community and corporate collaborations," she declared. "By partnering with economic development and social organizations, we can match well-prepared workers together with the companies that want to hire them. If we have better employees available, then we have better companies throughout our area. That’s an idea I can, and obviously do, get behind."
Today, an estimated 66,000 call centers employ about five million people in America, offering entry-level opportunities for new college graduates or people trying to get a foothold in the customer service field. Help desk functions, including remote desktop and social media support, fill out call center capabilities and generate an estimated 180,000 new jobs annually.