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Award-winning US newspaper outsources customer care to RP

Posted May 06, 2008

The San Jose Mercury News, the American newspaper that won the Pulitzer Prize for its 1986 investigative reporting on corruption during the Marcos dictatorship, has become the latest US daily to "offshore" its customer management to Philippine contact centers, Catanduanes Rep. Joseph Santiago said over the weekend.

Santiago said MediaNews Group, one of the largest newspaper companies in the US with 57 dailies across 12 states, has outsourced the customer care of San Jose Mercury News to APAC Customer Services Inc.

APAC employs some 4,000 college-educated, fluent English-speaking, "accent neutral" Filipinos in three contact centers in Quezon City and Muntinlupa City.

APAC's Philippine call hubs will initially provide customer care and back-office solutions to San Jose Mercury News, Contra Costa Times and Oakland Tribune. The services will include fielding inbound customer calls, subscriber retention and delivery and billing inquiries.

Santiago is chairman of the House committee on information and communications technology and a backer of the booming business process outsourcing (BPO) industry, a key driver of Philippine economic and employment growth.

"We expect MediaNews' decision to start offshoring some back-office services to the Philippines to drive the group's competitors to eventually do the same in order to stay economically competitive," Santiago said.

He noted that newspapers in the US and elsewhere face mounting financial challenges due to rapidly declining readership on account of growing Internet use.

The largest newspaper in San Jose and Silicon Valley

Founded in 1851, San Jose Mercury News is the largest newspaper in San Jose, California and Silicon Valley. With a daily circulation of 230,870, San Jose Mercury News is the 34th largest US paper, according to the Audit Bureau of Circulations.

APAC is a global customer care solutions provider for companies in the healthcare, financial services, publishing, business services, communications, travel and entertainment industries. In publishing alone, APAC has almost 80 newspaper clients from the US.

The McClatchy Co., the third largest US newspaper firm, began outsourcing its customer services to APAC in July 2007. The company's top five papers include The Sacramento Bee, The Miami Herald, The Kansas City Star, The Denver Post and The Charlotte Observer, all in the top 50 US dailies, also according to the Audit Bureau of Circulations.

Global BPO providers based in the US have been crediting their Philippine operations as among the most productive worldwide, largely owing to the country's ample supply of highly cost-effective human resources.

Philippine call centers are projected to have more than 300,000 seats, fully engage up to 506,500 Filipinos and yield as much as $7.3 billion in annual revenues by 2010, according to an industry group.

Source: INQUIRER.net, May 05, 2008

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