Students at the University of Nevada Reno are providing a new labor pool for a major corporation.
International Game Technology employs 5,000 people around the world, but its "help" desk telephone operation wasn't providing the service the company needed.
Company CIO Don Hopkins says he considered moving the call center overseas.
“For too long people have been focused on going out and doing outsourcing as a way to achieve lower costs or increase the number of people they have,” Hopkins says.
Instead, Hopkins decided to hire students at the University of Nevada, Reno and tap into the younger generation's technology skills and flexible hours.
“We were looking for kids that had some technology skills, but in some cases the kids that had really good technology skills were not in a technology track at the university," he says. "They had other areas, but we were looking at their technology skills.”
Now, the call center is on campus, with 20 students who work between classes.
“It gave us a lot of flexibility in scheduling for peaks and it actually improved our performance," he says.
Hopkins says the company was able to save 10 percent with its student workers. It doubled call center hours and improved answering times. The number of "hang ups" dropped from five percent to one percent, and the problem-solving success rate increased from 65 to 74 percent.
He says the UNR student call center model can be duplicated by other companies in cities with major universities.
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There are just 38 days left in Nevada’s Legislative Session. A number of education-related bills remain on the agenda this session. They include new programs for low-income, disabled, gifted and talented students, and for English language learners.