- Associated Press - Thursday, July 9, 2015

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) - An Indian-based tech support company is looking to U.S. call center workers for help, demonstrating how technical support is coming full circle in an industry that’s better known for outsourcing U.S. jobs overseas.

The company, iYogi, announced Thursday it’s partnering with a call center operator in Maine for its first technical support center in North America. The operation will create 300 to 350 jobs over the coming year, mostly in Lewiston.

The independent consumer tech support company is headquartered in India but wants to be in the U.S. market, which accounts for the bulk of the company’s business around the world.

“Every company is looking at a globalized workforce. We want to be closer to the customer,” Vishal Dhar, iYogi’s co-founder and president of marketing, told The Associated Press.

Maine Gov. Paul LePage, who was on hand for the jobs announcement in Lewiston, said he was happy to see jobs being created in Maine instead of leaving the state. The state’s shoe manufacturing has gone offshore, and paper-making jobs are also becoming scarce thanks to lower manufacturing costs elsewhere around the world.

“It is encouraging a company like iYogi can reverse what has typically been the trend and outsource jobs to America,” the governor said in a statement.

Dhar said there are a few reasons for a trend toward putting call centers closer to customers.

Legacy companies wanted the lowest-cost support, but that’s not necessarily the case for new companies that are more focused on innovation, Dhar said. Also, the cost differential between operating in India and U.S. is less than it used to be, creating opportunity for hybrid service models, he said.

His company began looking for a U.S. partner in the spring.

That search led to an agreement with Argo Marketing, which will hire and employ the tech support workers in Lewiston and several other locations in Maine, said Argo CEO Jason Levesque. There also will be work-from-home opportunities, he said.

Working with iYogi, Argo already launched a pilot program that started with 10 workers to prove that the model of Maine workers in an “iYogi environment” will work, Levesque said.

More U.S. workers will be hired if the larger concept works, Dhar said.

“Customers themselves don’t want a scripted service call, he said.

iYogi is different from many India-based companies that provide technical support via telephone, computer chats or email because it works directly with consumers who sign contracts instead of doing work for larger companies.

The company supports a range of products including computers, phones and other electronic devices. It currently has 3 million tech support customers, mostly in North America, and 5,000 customer support workers outside the U.S. The company also has 1,500 contract workers who provide on-site technical support in the U.S.


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