Fifth Third Hires 42 At Call Center

June 16, 2003
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GRAND RAPIDS — In this jobless recovery, somebody is actually hiring.

Fifth Third Bank expanded its Grand Rapids call center by 32 positions in April and is in the process of hiring 10 more people to man customer service lines.

Anne Hagen, vice president of the firm's Grand Rapids call center, said the new positions were needed to manage the rising workload generated by a growing customer base.

The center isn't always hiring, but it tends to have opportunities available on an ongoing basis, Hagen said.

She told the Business Journal that the call center is a good place to enter banking because new hires go through an extensive one-month training program before they're released to the floor.

It's also a great stepping-stone into the organization, she said.

The call center at 1850 East Paris is one of only two that Fifth Third operates nationwide, the other being located in Cincinnati where the bank is based.

The local center now handles 50 percent of consumer service calls for the bank and serves as a backup for the Cincinnati call center.

In the event the Cincinnati center is unable to function, the Grand Rapids center has the equipment to handle 100 percent of the bank's national call volume.

Currently, Hagen says, a large percentage of customer service calls about core consumer products, like checking, savings and loans, tend to be routed here.

Customers might call to see if a check has cleared, to inquire about a debit made to his account, to put a stop-pay on a check, check a loan balance, or with other questions about his account.

The center does not address commercial accounts, Hagen noted.

Call center personnel can pull up a customer's account profile and directly answer questions on any account. About 99 percent of the questions typically posed to call personnel can be dealt with during a single call, Hagen noted.

The two centers collectively handle about 150,000 calls daily, about 100,000 of which are handled through the centers' automated voice response units.

Live agents with headsets and CT screens handle the remaining 50,000 calls, she said.

"As we get more automation and we grow, the types of calls our agents handle do become more complex and are becoming a little bit longer calls, so to give the kind of service we want we need some more agents."

Peggy Janei, Fifth Third spokesperson, said expansion of the call center here is "a testament to the talent level that's here in West Michigan."

Janei also said the fact that Grand Rapids is home to the institution's second major call center and its second major data center, shows the importance of the western Michigan affiliate.           

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