Can call centers improve both customer experience and ROI?

Today the answer is yes. New technology makes it possible to do both, even from often over-tasked inside reps calling on customers of local media companies.

These back-end operations have already undergone massive changes in the past decade, especially at newspapers as classifieds declined, online circulation went paid, and budgets cuts continue.

The industry has not always gotten it right.  But for classified advertisers, subscribers and other customers, the inbound or outbound call is one of the most important ways they will ever engage with the newspaper brand. Each call is a one-on-one experience and shapes how the customer feels about the newspaper’s brand.

In spite of pressure to cut man-hours, today there are significant opportunities to transform the newspaper call center using technology. Rather than using technology to avoid talking to callers, it can actually facilitate conversions.

Fortunately, newspapers are in a good position to convert call center technology to create a positive experience – and better ROI.

Most have not yet succumbed to some of the worst practices of the inbound call-center industry:  Thirty minute wait times, multiple requests for the same identification information on a single call, circular logic, and worst of all, the  “we’ll call you back soon” model, in which large banks and other institution do not connect an inbound call to a live representative at all.

They have also not adopted the worst practices of the outbound telesales industry, those annoying half-baked “how are you doing today” calls based on inaccurate data about the recipient, and voice recorded calls that switch over if anyone answer.

These practices make the customer feel like they are the product from whom value is being extracted, rather than a customer to whom value is delivered.  When challenged by customers, large institutional companies often cite that they are short-handed, ignoring the reality the SMB customer is even more short-handed. So is an individual who, after all, has a staff of one.

The Benefits of Self-Service Technology

Fortunately, the technology available allows inbound and outbound center employees to perform more functions faster and more easily, providing both a better live experience and more efficient use of call center staff.

More and more media companies use self-serve platforms from iPublish to power their call centers in a variety of cost-efficient ways.

Call center representatives using the self-serve platform with administrative permissions created to support the call center,  can not only take orders and place ads in a few clicks, but also use automation to actually build the ads and send them for proofing in a few seconds.   You read that right – dynamic ad creation in the hands of your call center team, with no special training needed.

The call center rep can now select size, frequency discounts or special placements and build the ad from the Google page, with or without the customer on the phone and without involving the production department.

Call centers can send spec ads by email, with a link for the customer to make their own changes online, and follow up with a warm prospect who is already engaged.

This gives call centers a massive new opportunity. Representatives not only take classified ads more easily but also sell into paginated pages of automotive ads, open house ads, special sections and holiday guides.

Local media are already deploying the technology with outstanding results, both in savings and in revenue per inside rep.