Spokane Journal of Business

Comcast settles into big new Liberty Lake facility

700 employees expected at call center by year’s end

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Alan Price, senior director of Comcast Corp.’s Liberty Lake-based customer call center, recently was approached by a service team member about a phone call the center had received from a subscriber in North Carolina as Hurricane Matthew swirled toward that state.

“This family was in the process of evacuating when they had the smart idea of calling to see if they could set up Xfinity Home,” Price says.

In addition to other security features Xfinity Home offers, it can provide live video monitoring in and outside of residences, he says.

“We got them set up before the brunt of the storm arrived, and they were able to monitor from smartphones the condition of their home once the storm arrived. It felt great to be part of an effort to help a customer across the country in a time of emergency,” he says.

It was precisely that kind of customer assistance Philadelphia-based Comcast says it had in mind when it selected Spokane as one of three new customer centers in May 2015. The cable company chose Albuquerque, N.M., and Tucson, Ariz., as the other two call center locations in the western U.S.

Now, 18 months later, the company is operating in a two-story, 80,000-square-foot building in the Meadowwood Technology Campus, at 24008 E. Mission.

Comcast moved into the $7 million building at the end of last May after operating temporarily in a 50,000-square-foot portion of the former Itron Inc. headquarters building, at 2818 N. Sullivan, in Spokane Valley. 

 “This is a phenomenal design. From layout to looks, we really thought this one through,” Price says.

Liberty Lake-based Greenstone Corp. designed the building, and Spokane-based Graham Construction Inc. was the general contractor, Price says.

Currently, 470 employees are taking calls and undergoing training at the new location. The largest pool of customer service agents are taking calls from across the country for Xfinity Home products.

Price says Comcast currently is hiring for positions and expects to employ 700 workers by year’s end. Comcast expects to invest more than $27 million annually in employee salaries and benefits. 

At least 15 percent of the new positions will be filled by reservists, veterans, and their spouses or domestic partners as part of Comcast’s commitment to hire 10,000 military personnel and their family members across the country by the end of 2017, says Price.

Customer service at the call center here runs from 4:50 a.m. to 9 p.m. every day, says Price.

Agents also are taking calls as part of a new partnership with Amazon.com Inc., which enables Comcast customers across the U.S. to find products and services on Amazon’s site. The remaining category of customer call takers is tied to Comcast’s Accessibility Support Center for customers with disabilities, Price says.

“We built this center with the employees in mind,” Price says. “If you’re going to ask them to spend eight to 10 hours in a place, it’s the least you can do for them. We know who takes care of our customers.”

Comcast placed the agent spaces on the perimeter of the building with office, meeting, and training rooms at the center of both floors. Each level is open and airy in design with large windows allowing for plenty of natural light to brighten surrounding work areas.

The call center features a wellness room, which has a computer station that gives workers access to an online doctor immediately. The building also has a complete fitness center, showers, a cafeteria, and two full-size dining areas on each floor.

Nicole Blackwell, who was promoted to a training position eight months ago with the company, says she’s worked for Comcast for six years. Originally a temporary hire, Blackwell says she’s previously worked for Comcast at locations in California and Oregon.

She says the Liberty Lake customer service center is the most modern location that she’s ever worked in.

“The culture here is amazing. It’s a family-oriented environment, and there’s a lot of support,” Blackwell says.

Says Price of Blackwell, “Nicole is a perfect example of the kind of employee we’re searching for. She started as a temp, embraced the culture we’re trying to create and she continues to rise through the ranks.”

Price has also risen through the ranks of Comcast. For seven years he worked as a technical operations manager at the company’s technical service center at 1717 E. Buckeye in northeast Spokane.

Then he was appointed as general manager and operations director at a technical service center in Tucson, where he spent the last four years before returning to Spokane in his current job.

“It’s good to be home, and I know Comcast feels the same way about increasing its presence here. The company has really been impressed with the caliber of talent in this area,” Price says.

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