MUNSTER | An executive with 22 years of experience in customer service and call centers has been named as director of customer service for Lee Enterprises, parent company of The Times Media Co.
Dan Hammelman took over the newly created position March 19.
He will oversee a staff of about 120 customer service representatives who work out of the Munster and Crown Point offices of The Times and out of the Billings Gazette office in Billings, Mont.
Times Publisher Chris White said The Times is pleased it was chosen by Lee to house the director of customer service position.
"We're very happy to have Dan here to lead our call center operations," White said. "With his experience, we know we'll be able to have better customer care for our subscribers as well as for the other newspapers we work with."
Hammelman's perspective comes from answering calls and running call centers.
"My entire professional career has been in call centers and the customer service industry," Hammelman said. "Having worked in most call-center positions makes me a better leader while allowing me to make forward-thinking decisions for our customers and employees."
Hammelman, originally from Grinnell, Iowa, started in the industry with State Farm Insurance. He most recently worked as vice president of contact center operations for NOVO 1 in Fort Worth, Texas.
He wanted to be closer to family and sought a job in the Midwest, finding it with Lee.
"What really drew me to the position is Lee's customer service strategy and planned investments," he said. "Lee and The Times 'get it,' and they know where the newspaper industry needs to go to be the readers' choice."
Hammelman has experience in customer contact centers and a proven track record of driving operational improvements while remaining focused on customer experience, Suzanna Frank, Lee vice president of audience, stated in a news release.
Being based out of The Times office in Crown Point will help Hammelman be close to the customer service representatives in his charge.
"It's hard to lead from afar in this type of work," he said.
Customer service representatives handle delivery, service calls, billing and subscriptions, he said.
Hammelman said he will ensure representatives have the right tools and knowledge to resolve readers' concerns quickly.
Hammelman has received multiple awards for customer service by JD Power, the International Customer Service Association and the International Customer Management Institute.
The married father of three bought a home in Chesterton with his wife, Malinda Hammelman.
Lee Enterprises is a major provider of local news, information and advertising in 50 markets.