The Los Angeles Times has tapped Apac Teleservices, Deerfield, IL, to handle inbound customer service calls.
The calls will mainly include circulation service calls such as delivery concerns and vacation starts and stops, said Brian Davis, the newspaper's director of reader marketing and consumer marketing.
“Our goal is to have 100 percent of these calls answered by Apac,” Davis said.
Until now the calls have been handled internally. The company will continue to maintain some call center staff to handle mainly outbound calls such as retention calls and verification of new delivery starts.
A new toll-free number, to be published, will go directly to Apac, and the newspaper's existing toll-free number will also be routed to the Apac center. Through Apac, the toll-free lines will be staffed with live agents during the same times that the in-house center had been: 5 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday and 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. on weekends.
Apac representatives will work on the Los Angeles Times computer system, so concerns received from customers over the telephone will be sent directly to the Los Angeles Times electronically. For delivery issues that require immediate attention, Apac representatives will be able to contact the newspaper's delivery staff through pagers.
Apac telephone representatives have been given extensive training on using the Los Angeles Times' computer system as well as training about the newspaper's content, circulation policy and promotions.
Testing of the program began in December, and it will employ approximately 135 Apac representatives by the end of January.
Apac spokesman Bruce Tiemann noted that the teleservices agency will be able to help the newspaper realize a cost savings by using representatives in its La Crosse, WI, center, where the standard of living is cheaper than in Los Angeles.