AOL, the Internet service provider owned by media giant Time Warner, is cutting 1,300 jobs, or 7 percent of its total global workforce, in Florida, Utah, Arizona, New Mexico and Virginia, as well as shuttering a call center in Jacksonville, Fla., the Associated Press reports via the Chicago Sun-Times.
The news of the layoffs came on Tuesday, and they represent the first significant workforce reduction at AOL since 700 employees were dropped last fall, according to the AP.
Nicholas Graham, an AOL spokesman, told the AP the cuts are a result of more Web-savvy customers and better, easily accessible Internet tools that those customers can use to perform more functions on their own, the AP reports.
“The Internet world of 2006 is very different from the world of 1996 when AOL first established these member centers,” Graham told the AP. “Today, AOL members are more savvy and sophisticated online. They are very different members today than they were in 1996.”
In the mid-1990s, AOL drew mostly beginner Web users because of its simple interface and high visibility in the mainstream market, but as Internet surfers became more educated about the Web, they began to desire more sophisticated tools and services. AOL responded by, among others things, bolstering its online help desk function so that users could perform their own Web troubleshooting. Today, some 8 million customers look up information every month, according to the AP, and only 5.5 million users seek live help services from AOL operators.
“They’re able to accomplish with a couple of clicks what used to take them a phone call or two or three to accomplish,” Graham said, according to the AP.
AOL’s call volume has been cut in half since 2004, Graham told the AP.
The company’s Jacksonville, Fla., call center was closed on Tuesday and 780 employees lost their jobs, according to the AP. Three hundred more staffers will be laid off in Tucson, Ariz. Another 125 in Ogden, Utah, will be cut along with additional smaller-scale layoffs in Albuquerque, N.M., and Dulles, Va., the AP reports. The Ogden cuts were made on Tuesday, and Tucson’s will be effective on June 30, according to the AP.
The news comes less than one week after AOL announced that it lost 835,000 subscribers in the first quarter of 2006. For more, read AOL Says Goodbye to 835K Subscribers.
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