‘SF Chronicle’ Improves Delivery With Voice Messaging

By: Lucia Moses

The San Francisco Chronicle discovered a while back that many new subscribers were canceling just days after ordering the paper. By the time the Chronicle found out a delivery problem was to blame, the customers’ patience had run out.

“If you’re a new customer, you have high expectations,” said Mick Cohen, customer-relationship manager.

By switching to an automated voice-messaging system from manual new-start verification, though, the Chronicle nearly eliminated those dreadful stops while cutting its retention costs by 19%, he said. The voice-messaging system provided by Burlington, Mass.-based SoundBite Communications cut in half the time it takes to verify new starts and respond to the delivery problems that used to lead to early stops, Cohen said.

SoundBite lets its clients design the contents of their messages, as well as when and how they’re sent. By letting a client deliver a message to an answering machine, SoundBite increases its contact rate. “When you’re in a major metro market and writing thousands of starts, even if you’re using a dialer, it’s very hard to get a hold of people,” Cohen said.

The Chronicle also uses voice messaging to send surveys, renewal offers, and other messages to existing home-delivery customers. The paper recently used the system to inform customers of a billing error, for example.

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