Jordan Torres thought her job at Qualfon was just a job — until she started earning $35 an hour.
The 18-year-old discovered that she could make big time money by taking inbound calls from people across North America and selling them mobile service plans as a customer representative for Qualfon.
“I was surprised I could make this much by talking to people,” said Torres. “I really enjoy my job and the people I work with. It's a great place to work every day. We have a lot of fun.”
Qualfon is a business outsource processor with two local call centers and a dozen others around the globe. Qualfon employs about 1,000 people at its locations in Coeur d'Alene and Hayden.
The company wants to hire at least 80 people in November to fill customer service representative jobs and customer support roles, said Jennifer Lavway, a talent acquisition manager at Qualfon.
“We're looking for people who are comfortable talking to people on the phone,” said Lavway. “These are great paying jobs that don't require a formal education or extensive experience. You need to have an outgoing personality and the right attitude to learn and work hard.”
Torres, who began working at Qualfon about a year ago, said she felt pretty good earning $11 an hour to start. The recent high school graduate didn't have any formal training or advanced education. She never dreamed that in less than a year she could be earning $72,800 annually.
“My husband and I have been able to save money and when I took maternity leave, I had money in the bank to cover three months worth of expenses,” she said. “My husband is able to be a stay at home dad and take care of our daughter.”
North Idaho is becoming a hub of call center operations with companies moving here in the last five years. Part of the reason is Idaho's minimum wage of $7.25 an hour.
“Our entry level jobs are paying better than the local average,” said Lavway. “People can make much more at Qualfon than other places.”
The local job market favors those seeking work. Idaho's jobless rate fell a tenth of a percent to 2.8 percent in September from August, according to an Idaho Department of Labor report released last week. Kootenai County's number inched up a tenth of a percent to 3.5 percent, while the nation's rate dropped two-tenths to 4.2.
All of that means there's a lot of competition for available workers, and call center jobs can often be unfairly stigmatized, said Lavway.
“Our employees are not making cold calls,” she said. “These are all inbound calls, which means people are calling us wanting to buy something. Jordan Torres is exceptional at listening to their needs and selling them the right product.”
Within the company, Torres is a high performer, but her ability to earn big dollars is not uncommon.
“Our performance incentives allow people to make a lot more than the industry average,” said Lavway. “Many of our customer service representatives make between $20 and $25 an hour.”
New employees start at about $10-$11 an hour. Then Qualfon puts its employees through a rigorous three-week training period.
The training isn't easy, but it pays off in the end.
“New employees should stick with the training because once that's over, life on the call center floor is very different,” said Torres. “I wake up and I look forward to going to my job.”
In addition to the great pay, Qualfon's call center is buzzing with frenetic energy and excitement. Fun is not only allowed, it's encouraged.
“One of my co-workers loves to wear his pink super hero cape that he was given from one of our clients,” said Torres. “We have friendly competitions and joke around with each other. It's like a family here.”
--Written by Marc Stewart, Director of Sponsored Content