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Customer Care Centers

A basic call center is a department within a company or a third-party organization that handles telephone sales and/or service. Call centers generally focus on processing incoming calls, but may handle outgoing calls, as well. Inbound call centers, which take calls from the outside, use automatic call distributors (ACDs) to route calls to the appropriate agent.

Customer care centers require employees who have more advanced skills in the areas of communication, customer service and technical knowledge. Employees in customer care centers are primarily engaged in attending to customer telephone calls and emails, as well as providing advice and assistance such as troubleshooting technical problems to help the user solve specific problems with products including computer hardware, software, or other electronic or mechanical goods.

Customer support can happen through various media, including telephone, live chat, instant messaging, email and on-site technicians. The most common support is conducted over the telephone and assistance by remote login into networked equipment such as a computer.

The Jackson Region is currently home to at least two customer care centers, one of which is a healthcare focused center. This indicates the region has the workforce and infrastructure to support customer care centers.

Apria Healthcare, which is headquartered in California and employs more than 11,000 healthcare professionals across the United States, operates a healthcare-related customer care center in Jackson. Apria is the leading provider of integrated home healthcare products and services in the United States and serves more than one million patients annually.  The company offers a comprehensive range of home respiratory therapy, diabetic supplies, medications and equipment, home infusion therapy and home medical equipment services.

Customer care representatives at Apria’s facility perform a number of duties including verifying patient insurance information for accuracy; resolving patient complaints and problems related to equipment, insurance or billing issues; obtaining clinical information needed for order processing or reimbursement; and contacting patients to confirm demographic information, communicate any financial responsibilities, and obtain additional information necessary for processing the order for company products or services. The company recently announced an expansion in Jackson.

Portfolio Recovery Associates (PRA) also operates a customer care center in Jackson, which opened in 2007 and currently employs more than 500 people. PRA’s Jackson operations are a business of PRA Group, the largest publicly owned debt buyer (Nasdaq: PRAA) with a market capitalization of approximately $3 billion. A global leader in acquiring defaulted receivables, PRA Group returns capital to global banks and other creditors to help expand financial services for consumers in North America and Europe. Its companies collaborate with customers to help them resolve their debt and also provide a broad range of revenue and recovery services to business and government clients. PRA Group employs approximately 3,900 people in locations throughout the U.S., Canada and Europe. It has been recognized as one of Fortune's 100 Fastest-Growing Companies for the past three years and one of Forbes' Best Small Companies in America for eight consecutive years since 2007.  

The telecommunications and broadband infrastructure in the Jackson Region should meet the requirements needed by a customer care center that establishes a new location in the region. According to the National Broadband Map website, the following companies provide telecommunications and broadband service in the nine county region: Aeneas Internet and Telephone, AT&T, Inc.; Charter Communications; the Jackson Energy Authority; Ken-Ten Wireless, LLC; Sprint Nextel Corporation; T-Mobile USA; and Verizon Communications, Inc.

Data transfer rates range from 1.5 megabits per second (Mbps) to 100 Mbps with the 10 Mbps as the most common speed. When compared against the other ten Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs) in the state of Tennessee, the Jackson MSA ranks eighth overall in terms of broadband speed, which in higher than the Memphis MSA ranking.

Additionally, Jackson Energy Authority (JEA) built a new fiber optic telecommunications network in recent years that provides every home and every business in Jackson with end-to-end fiber connectivity.

A strength of the Jackson Region related to customer care centers is its location in the Central Time Zone which would allow companies to conveniently provide service to other time zones in the United States.