The managers of the Times Union (Albany, New York) faced a task recently, one that many American companies have faced. They needed to move operations offsite in the face of the coronavirus epidemic.

It’s not too tough for reporters to labor remotely, as they are used to chancy conditions. It’s harder for customer service operations to relocate and to do so quickly. 

The Hearst-owned Times Albany enlisted Talkdesk to help the cirThe Hearst-owned Times Albany enlisted Talkdesk to help the cirThe Hearst-owned Times Albany enlisted Talkdesk to help the cir culation department with the move. Talkdesk provides cloud-based contact center software. 

Talkdesk, founded in 2011 and with roots in Portugal, has offices in San Francisco, Portugal and the UK. It was born out of a Twiliocon, a San Francisco hackathon, CEO Tiago Paiva has told numerous outlets. Talkdesk recently announced$143 million in Series C funding, boosting the company’s valuation to more than $3 billion, according to the company. 

The paper had been relying on an antiquated in-house phone system that didn’t come from an outside vendor, says Brad Hunt, circulation sales and retention manager.

Some twenty circulation employees were moved in total from the paper’s building in Colonie, New York, says Hunt. About ten of those are using Talkdesk to take customer service calls and handle subscriber issues. 

The only equipment required was PCs and headsets. “We scrambled around when we found out that headsets became very high-demand,” because of the virus, says Hunt. 

Going forward, the paper will integrate Salesforce, the paper’s main database program for the sales department, with Talkdesk.

Stone Age

The department is using Talkdesk’s analytics. “The vast amount of reporting that they provide has been invaluable to us. Our on-site phone system was almost Stone Age compared to the analytics that Talkdesk is able to provide.” 

The paper had basics such as time on call and call abandon, but now have more info such as time after a call ends that a service rep is spending on follow-up. It helps the department see if there's a process problem internally that it needs to address, says Hunt. 

Hunt says there aren’t any specific dates for when employees will return to the office. “Hearst has done an amazing job stepping up to the plate during this time to really ensure that when our employees returned to the office space, they feel secure doing so,” says Hunt.

The company restructured the work space to allow social distancing, added automatic hand-sanitizing door handles and implemented a before-you-go-to-work app, which has employees answer questions to tell them whether they should enter the building. 

Whenever that return happens, the paper plans to continue using Talkdesk, as the changes forced by the virus have caused the paper to “rip the Band-Aid off,” says Hunt, and turn to tech that moves his department forward