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The Seattle Times Sees Increased IVR Usage and Containment 

Executive Summary

The Seattle Times newspaper needed a new IVR solution that would promote better usage and call containment than their current system.  They also needed a solution that could integrate with their planned new CRM. VoicePort’s CircPort® met and exceeded the newspaper’s goals.  IVR usage increased by greater than 30% while containment increased 43%.  The Seattle Times knew that they wanted to improve the customer experience making automation easier to use, while also offering more self-service functions. The use of CircPort with conversational speech IVR and tight integration with the new SalesForce® CRM were instrumental in making that success happen.


The Seattle Times, the largest daily circulation newspaper in the state of Washington, needed to upgrade their customer service technology.  Their existing IVR was a DTMF only system and the lack of user-friendly design led to callers bypassing the menu options to go directly to an agent.  This was negatively impacting their costs and call center staffing.

Management knew they wanted to upgrade to an IVR that would have a conversational speech user interface that could increase IVR usage and call containment.  Their target was a 10% increase in usage and call containment over their current system. Also, it was important that the solution they selected would not drain their internal IT resources in implementation or ongoing support.  Lastly, they had a tight deadline to implement a new SalesForce® CRM, to which most IT resources were already committed.  They needed a vendor who could execute the implementation and integration with the CRM quickly and with minimal Seattle Times IT resources.


After thorough review, The Seattle Times selected VoicePort’s CircPort® as its IVR provider, opting for the cloud-based solution.  This simplified their telecom and IT infrastructure demands as far as managing the IVR service.  VoicePort worked with Seattle Times engineers to develop an API for their SalesForce CRM.  The CircPort system was successfully implemented in spring 2017.

Results and Return on Investment

With the CircPort IVR, The Seattle Times reported a usage increase of greater than 30% over the previous IVR, surpassing the 10% goal.  Initial containment increased 43% from the old system and with additional tuning and monitoring, the system has consistently been maintaining greater than 44% containment of calls within the IVR. 

The Seattle Times attributes the increased usage and containment to several factors.  First and foremost, the quality of the VUI conversational speech ability of the CircPort IVR made it much more pleasant and much easier for customers to interact with the system.   The depth of functionality with the CRM integration also provided a richer set of self-serve selection menus. This increased containment represents significant cost savings in cost calls handled by agents.

The Seattle Times enjoyed an immediate reduced agent call volume benefit.  At the same time The Seattle Times was implementing the new IVR, they also changed their delivery service model to an outsourced model.  The Seattle Times reported that without the new IVR and the increased usage and call containment gained from it, they would have had a difficult time staffing the call center to accommodate a surge in calls that resulted from going to the new delivery model.     

Also impressive to The Seattle Times was the role the IVR played in improving their customer experience by shortening call time.  CircPort IVR integration with the CRM allows recognition of the subscriber based on caller ID.  This feature shortens the call by requiring fewer account confirmation steps. Also, because of the integration with CTI-Screen Pop technology, calls that do go to an agent are shorter as well because the agent has key call information passed to them.  The CTI indicates key account information to the agent at the point of transfer from the IVR along with what the customer has already tried to do within the IVR.  Visibility of who is calling and why shortens handling time and drives first call resolution. As a result, Seattle Times customer service KPIs improved, while also providing significant cost savings on telecom.  

VoicePort leveraged SIP integration or transportation of the calls to the paper’s call center partner, Alorica.  They were also able to provide data elements using UUI protocols for activation of Alorica’s CTI components with a minimum of professional services work.  The net outcome of the SIP interoperability between VoicePort and Alorica was additional savings in telecom transportation costs and reduced telecom usage because of shorter agent handling time as a result of the effective CTI integration. 

The CircPort IVR further impressed The Seattle Times with its real-time integration with the SalesForce.  This functionality has significantly reduced manual entry of customer service-related updates and eliminated delays in data availability.  Further real-time route data and up-to-date account data provides callers with the most accurate information in order to process their customer service issues.

Lastly, The Seattle Times was impressed by the partnership role that VoicePort took through the entire process of implementing the solution to ensure that maximum efficiency was top of mind at all times.  Circulation Director, Dayne Turgeon, specifically cited the VoicePort team’s ability to maximize the newspaper’s efficiencies, stating that the number one benefit of using VoicePort is the “faster, more efficient service for our subscribers, 24/7.”


An interactive voice user interface IVR that is well designed and integrated with a CRM assists with the overall task of circulation management, improving customer service and experience, while reducing customer service costs as well.  With a quality, conversational VUI, usage and containment of more than 40% is possible.