Case Study: USA TODAY


National Customer Service (NCS), USA TODAY

Internal Brand

HEROES (Helpfulness, Empathy, Respect, Ownership, Empowerment and Service)


12 months


NCS is responsible for the success of two call centers that handle all inbound customer service and outbound retention calls for USA TODAY. The two call centers are located a continent apart, with one center being operated by an outsource provider that handles calls for a disparate group of clients. The call centers were doing an adequate job of addressing subscriber concerns and inquiries, but they lacked processes to ensure that high-quality conversations were taking place with each and every caller. Recognizing that each call is a valuable sales tool, NCS engaged RCDA to implement a sales model capable of increasing subscriber retention, increasing the number of subscriptions paid through EZ Pay and boosting new subscription sales.


With the support of top leadership at USA TODAY, RCDA launched the HEROES project. HEROES was a fully customized training, consulting and coaching program aimed at changing the way that NCS personnel view their respective job functions. By incorporating RCDA’s Quality Conversation approach and robust sales model into the HEROES call flows, NCS reps were able to get to heart of subscriber concerns, needs and desires. Once the effectiveness of the HEROES process was demonstrated, RCDA launched a full-scale certification program aimed at promoting project sustainability. Through its carefully designed assessment methods, the certification program allowed NCS and RCDA to recognize outstanding performers as well as uncover any lingering areas of weakness within the organization.


The HEROES project revolutionized the way that NCS handles subscriber touches. Before the project, NCS reps were making little or no attempt to save subscribers who wished to cancel their subscriptions. After implementing the HEROES process, reps are consistently retaining 40 percent of subscriptions associated with cancel calls. NCS reps also used the HEROES process to generate four times as many EZ Pay subscriptions. But the dramatic results do not end there. By training and coaching the outbound reps in the HEROES process, the average number of sales per hour jumped from 0.9 to 3.4 for an increase of more than 275 percent. The certification process proved to be the key ingredient to sustainability because it motivated NCS personnel to continually demonstrate mastery of the HEROES process. With a significant amount of advertising and subscription revenue tied to every retained and satisfied subscriber, USA TODAY has added millions of dollars to their bottom line as a result of this project.