Contact Centre

Inside the Contact Centre at publishing giant, Are Media

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Are Media is Australia’s leading omnichannel content company for women. Their brands include The Australian Women’s Weekly, Better Homes & Gardens, Woman’s Day, Marie Claire, TV WEEK, New Idea, Now to Love, Australian Gourmet Traveller, BEAUTY/crew and ELLE. We interview Karen Baker, who leads Are Media’s customer service and operations teams both onshore and offshore, and is Head of Marketing Operations.

Your magazine titles have such diverse subscriber bases – how do you manage that in your contact centre?

We use several strategies in the contact centre to ensure effective communication and support for our subscribers. Firstly, we’ve created an extensive agent training program, encompassing the diverse spectrum of customers and magazines we service. This includes grasping customer preferences, needs, and foreseeing potential challenges they might face. We consistently track the nature of enquiries we receive, keeping the team abreast of trends. Additionally, we provide physical copies of our magazines for the team to read, fostering familiarity with our publications.  It’s crucial to stay flexible and adaptable to evolving subscriber needs and preferences. By continuously monitoring trends, we adjust our support strategies to guarantee that every subscriber enjoys the best experience possible. Ensuring streamlined communication and operational processes for the team is key to our success.

What are your most successful channels for subscriber acquisition and retention?

The most successful channels for engaging with our subscribers are our websites, phone, email and, believe it or not, traditional mail. Our customers love calling us, as the demographic of our customer tends to prefer personalised service that comes with speaking with our contact centre agents directly.  This preference for phone communication allows our agents to build meaningful relationships with our customers, offer tailored assistance and build a sense of trust and loyalty.

How is technology changing the way you serve your customers?

Our Are Media 5-year ambition is to transform from a print media company to an omnichannel media company with strong content commerce capability. We have made improvements in our websites’ self-service features and are currently exploring Gen-AI, including the use of chatbots – watch this space.  Additionally, we utilise data and analytics to gain insights into customer behaviours, preferences, and pain points. By analysing customer interactions, we can identify trends, anticipate needs, and personalise customer experience.

What are some of the learnings you’ve had in transitioning work offshore?

Transitioning work offshore can offer many benefits, however it can present challenges too. My tips are:

  • Do your homework and be patient. There are many BPOs to choose from. We executed a detailed RFP process and were also very fortunate to work with Sharon from Matchboard to assist us in finding the right partner. We chose a BPO in Fiji, and this is proving to be the right choice. The Fiji team has successfully onboarded with us and demonstrated a genuine care for our customers and publications. 

Once you find that partner that aligns with your vision and values, the decision is easy!

  • Risk management is critical to your success; look for a partner that understands and mitigates risk, and proactively provides solutions and support if/when challenges arise.
  • Be prepared, have a plan, and communicate. Effective communication is crucial when transitioning work offshore. Ensure that goals, expectations, and processes are clearly communicated to the offshore team.  This includes providing comprehensive training, documentation, and ongoing support.

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What are the KPIs that are most important to the business?

Traditional KPIs are critical to our success, including Customer Retention, Abandoned Call Rates, AHT (Average Handling Time), Agent Attrition, Call Quality, and Product Reviews. These metrics offer invaluable insights into operational efficiency, customer satisfaction, and contact centre agent performance.  By monitoring these indicators, we enable our agents to improve and deliver exceptional customer service.

Last updated on: June 3, 2024