Business

KGB shifts call center's focus, seeks to hire 50

After deep cuts at its Wichita call center, owner KGB has changed the center's focus and is starting a new round of hiring.

KGB, formerly known as InfoNXX, is seeking to hire 50 people this month at its call center at 8400 E. 32nd St. North.

The New York-based company has started a new service called KGB Deals, which features a deal-of-the-day coupon from small- and medium-sized businesses in a variety of markets. The electronic coupons are distributed to those who sign up at kgbdeals.com to receive them.

KGB has pushed the service in about 30 large cities in the U.S. and Europe. It is not available in Wichita.

If the new service proves popular, the company will hire 50 more workers in the spring. And the company could hire even more later, depending on the program's success.

The staff in Wichita will be outbound telemarketers calling businesses in target cities to see if they are interested in listing coupons.

"We're looking for restaurants, spas, bars and similar businesses that want to increase their traffic," said Kevin Gaugush, KGB's chief people officer.

The company set up a pilot operation for KGB Deals at its Bethlehem, Pa., call center. With the program's rollout, KGB is moving the work to Wichita because the call center has plenty of space.

Gaugush said he expects to fill about half of the openings from employees already at the center, but the rest will come from outside.

"There is some sales involved," he said. "It's a different skill set from what they've been doing, so it's not appropriate for everyone."

Some at the center will continue to provide directory assistance.

The center has seen its employment plunge in recent years. The company moved into the former MCI call center in 2005 and hired hundreds of workers to provide directory assistance. Employment peaked at 870, but demand for directory assistance continues to fall as more people skip 411 in favor of going online or using smartphones. Employment is now about 150, Gaugush said.

"It's been a continual decline," he said. "Now, it's hard to keep open."

The company is asking Wichita City Council today to extend its 5-year-old exemption on property, sales and income tax on $6 million in bonds it used to renovate the building.

Interested applicants can visit http://kgb.com/careers and search for positions in Wichita.

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