Week of September 16, 2002
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Ticketed for Oblivion, BOA's Wichita Call Center Will Now Be 600-WorkerBy JACK LYNE, Site Selection Executive Editor of Interactive Publishing WICHITA, Kan. "There are no second chapters in American lives," F. Scott Fitzgerald once wrote.
A second chapter, however, may be beginning for some workers at a Bank of America (BOA at www.bankofamerica.com) call center in Wichita, Kan. (www.wichitakansas.org) that was already in the midst of shutting down. What's more, that second work-life act will be staged in the very same space that the bank had begun phasing out. And the new operation will pay significantly higher salaries and could end up employing more workers.
The topsy-turvy scenario began two months ago. That was when BOA announced that it was shutting down its 575-employee call center in Wichita.
Technology-driven changes in customer needs created the catalyst for shuttering the operation, bank officials explained. Responding to reduced call volume, BOA is consolidating its 15 U.S. call centers. More customers are now using the bank's online services, and error reductions have further curtailed call volume, BOA officials said.
No space and old technology combined as the double-whammy that ticketed the Wichita call center for oblivion. The facility, BOA explained, was already at capacity, making it unviable as a consolidation site. In addition, the building's technology was significantly older than most of the bank's other U.S. call centers.
Facility Moving to
By mid-October, 200 mortgage-processing employees will be hired at the center, with 200 more added by late 2003, said Bob Landers, Kansas president of Bank of America. Yet another 200 workers will likely be added later, Landers added.
And the first folks who're being interviewed for the new positions?
The very same employees who staffed BOA's call center. Some 375 of those call center workers had already been laid off; another 100 were scheduled to get the gate a week after BOA announced its change in plans.
The pay scale for the new jobs will be higher than for the call center work, beginning at US$25,000 for entry-level workers and climbing as high as $45,000. But the skill set needed for the mortgage-processing work will be higher, too, Landers said. That means that local call center workers won't automatically be hired for the new positions, he explained.
But those workers' presence was a major factor in the bank's decision, Landers added. "Their existing company knowledge and strong customer-service commitment will help get the mortgage-processing center up and running much more quickly," he said.
Revamped Mortgage Process Created DemandBOA's about-face on the Wichita facility wasn't driven by indecisiveness. What the switchover was about was the striking success of the company's revamped mortgage-generation process.
"Loan Solutions" is BOA's moniker for its overhauled modus operandi. Loan Solutions jettisons the bank's old system, which required all customers interested in mortgages to interface only with designated mortgage representatives. But with the new setup, customers now can talk to any BOA representative to generate a mortgage.
Combined with new technology and software, Loan Solutions is slashing BOA's total time to close a mortgage from 30 to 45 days to 10 to 14 days. The speedier new system has proved to be a hit with customers - so much so, that BOA's 14 existing U.S. mortgage centers can't keep up with demand, Landers said.
That surge in demand was what prompted BOA to take a second look at Wichita. It liked what it saw - a deep, knowledgeable pool of potential employees and an existing facility that was set up and ready to go.
The new mortgage-processing operation will have some company in its Wichita facility: BOA's existing retirement and investment service center.
That 225-employee service center was already scheduled to remain in the Wichita building after the call center's scheduled final shutdown in the fall. Only now an unlikely, 11th-hour rebirth has shut down the shutdown.
©2002 Conway Data, Inc. All rights reserved. Data is from many sources and is not warranted to be accurate or current.