A regional customer service call center based at The Billings Gazette and serving its parent company, Lee Enterprises Inc., will be closed and consolidated by Feb. 4, company officials announced Tuesday.
Ten full-time and 26 part-time jobs will be eliminated by the closure.
The closure of the Billings call center comes as technology allows the company, which owns 50 daily newspapers, to operate a customer care center from one central location in Munster, Ind. When Lee went to regionalized customer service centers, there were four, including Billings, which has been in operation since 2008.
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The Munster call center, which consists of two separate locations there, will handle all calls regarding newspaper and digital subscriptions for every location.
“Technological efficiencies have allowed us to consolidate in a way that should be seamless for our customers,” said Billings Gazette Publisher Mike Gulledge, who also serves as a vice president for the corporation. “Billings’ low unemployment rate and historically stronger economy makes it more difficult to hire and retain employees than in other markets.”
Employees were told of the closure Tuesday morning. The company will not offer relocation to the majority of those employed; however, The Gazette is working with outplacement coordinators to those affected by the closure. In addition, employees who stay with the company are being offered “stay-on” bonuses to stay during the month long transition.