CenturyLink’s Bilingual Customer Service hub in El Centro makes an uncommon connection with customers
On July 21, CenturyLink celebrated the 30th anniversary of the founding of its Bilingual Customer Service Center in Phoenix, Arizona. The first bilingual telecommunications call center in the United States and the longest tenured bilingual call center in the industry, El Centro de CenturyLink has a tremendous story.
The center was the brainchild of five CenturyLink Phoenix employees who recognized the need to provide in-language customer service to their Spanish-speaking customer base.
“At CenturyLink, we encourage our employees to bring their ideas to the table—it’s what helps us grow and provide the highest level service to our customers. El Centro is a great example of what that can do for your company,” says Shasha Richardson O’Dea, diversity director for CenturyLink. “These five employees understood the importance of serving the growing Hispanic market, and today, their vision continues to inspire our work, not only through our bilingual call center, but through our philanthropic efforts as well.”
Today, El Centro de CenturyLink connects with thousands of Spanish-speaking customers across the US. According to bilingual supervisor Elvia Caballero, many of the employees who work there—like herself—have a personal connection to the work.
“Mom and I came from Mexico, and I was her translator,” says Caballero. “I remember having to explain to her a ‘party line’ or where to buy a phone. Being young and needing to act in that role—that’s something you don’t forget. It’s why I knew I wanted to be part of this. It’s a way I can truly make a difference.”
Caballero has been at the center for 18 years, and is still making a difference every day—sometimes providing help in areas far beyond telecommunications services.
“That’s because our employees have a common goal—to be there when our community needs us,” says Caballero. “For example, we once heard from a customer who wanted to make payment arrangements but didn’t have food. One of the employees asked, ‘Is there something we can do?’ So we held a fundraiser, and worked with other CenturyLink departments and community organizations, to come to their aid.”
Caballero says that this type of empowerment makes working at CenturyLink, and El Centro, quite unique. “It makes this a wonderful place for personal and professional growth. I know I am not the same person I was before working here. Not a lot of companies give you the opportunity to contribute, use your creativity, and grow like this.”