ContactNB is the industry association representing New Brunswick’s contact centre community. The organization was created in 1999 with a mission to drive continued excellence in the province’s contact centre sector.

ContactNB President Rob Campbell says the organization has been instrumental in growing and maintaining jobs within the province’s contact centre industry. “We have over 20 member companies that have been in the province for over 20 years, 10 of which have or will soon celebrate 25 years in the province,” notes Campbell. “World-class companies from around the globe continue to choose New Brunswick for their customer care operations.”

Ahead of this week’s Contact Atlantic Conference in Fredericton, ONB sat down with Campbell to discuss the conference, misconceptions about the industry, and more.

What can we expect at Contact Atlantic this year?

Campbell: It’s another great opportunity to discuss existing and growing trends in our industry. This year’s conference includes a look at cybersecurity, a topic that’s increasingly important to everyone. We’ll also look at how social media is affecting customer care operations. The term contact centre is used now rather than call centre because of the rise of social media; customer care operations now handle social media, email, and live chat in addition to phone calls. Our centres also handle various back-office operations for companies in finance, insurance, and healthcare.

We’re also always interested in new ways to make the industry more attractive to millennials.

You mentioned the longevity of companies operating in New Brunswick – that’s an important point.  

The reality is that we have done a great job attracting top companies to New Brunswick — names like Royal Bank, TD Insurance, CIBC, Tangerine, and Wyndham. These businesses launch with an announcement of x number of positions, then stay and continue to grow because they love the quality of life here and our bilingual workforce meets their needs. There has been good return on investment from our sector; it contributes over $ 1 billion a year to the province’s GDP.

As with any industry global conditions sometimes necessitate businesses moving or closing. Still, in the few instances where a company has had to leave or close the ROI is still excellent when you consider their years of operation here.

Having that contact centre industry here for the last 25 years has helped grow other verticals, like information technology. New Brunswick’s robust tech sector may not be where it is now without the contact centre industry taking hold here with key technology leaders like NBTel . The money generated from the contact centre industry helped the province further invest in the technology sector.

Our industry was intended to be just one of many key sectors for New Brunswick. It was designed to drive revenue for the province and allow us to invest in IT, and now sectors like cybersecurity and financial services.

ONB is proud to be the platinum sponsor of Contact Atlantic. How do our groups work together?

ONB has been a key collaborator as we work with member companies, listen to their challenges, and find new opportunities for them. We work well together in identifying challenges and opportunities within the industry. The conduit that ONB provides us into the province’s academic institutions helps get industry’s thoughts to the schools so curriculum can be tailored to meet the needs of the workforce. It’s all about getting people the right training they need for available positions.

We also work to get accreditation and licensing models updated so we can help workers get new credentials. Our industry has people working in verticals like financial services and healthcare; advanced training and certification allows them to move up through their companies. We work to bring down barriers and facilitate those certification programs. We’ve seen great momentum over the last couple of years and I attribute a lot of that to ONB.

Any other final thoughts on the state of the industry in New Brunswick?

There are good-paying jobs in our business — the average hourly wage in Moncton for our industry is $20.85. I began in this industry 25 years ago, and it provided me with an introduction to working with world-class companies like Bell and Microsoft, which then led me into the technology sector. The contact centre gave me a starting point for a career in technology. I wouldn’t be in this province today if it wasn’t for that opportunity.

I speak with architects and engineers in this province that praise the industry because that’s where they started. If it wasn’t for a contact centre position they wouldn’t have been able to pay for school. It provided them with good-paying work during their studies and after graduation. Big-name companies like TD Insurance and Medavie Blue Cross are all here. These are great companies to get in the door with. We have people retiring with pension plans from this industry. We have people that moved to the province for good-paying management roles in this sector. They came to New Brunswick for leadership jobs and they have no plans to leave. They’ve had kids here, they have a great quality of life here — they’re New Brunswickers now.

Written by Jason Boies