Tag Archives: New York Times

Wet Newspapers

Here are a couple of quick examples of how two companies address the same customer happiness issue with two differing degrees of success. You’ll notice I say customer happiness rather than customer service. That’s because more often than not the service defines the happiness or lack thereof.

It rains here from time to time. As I’ve mentioned previously, we have a couple of newspapers delivered here at Rancho Deluxe each day. Rain and newspapers are fundamentally incompatible – just try to read one that’s been left out in the rain unprotected.  Every once in a while, the delivery person doesn’t get the newspaper wrapped up too well and it’s wet.  Not a big deal.

We’ve had a wet week and so each of the two newspapers – The NY Times and USA Today – has shown up wet.  What happened next is the subject today.  In the case of the Times, I went on their website where the link into account service is very clear and let them know we received a wet paper.  I was given the option to get a credit or to have another paper delivered – potentially that same day.  Three clicks and all done.  The paper did show up followed by a telephone call from a human – not a robot – making sure I’d received it and the matter was resolved.  Wow.

Compare that with yesterday’s experience with USA Today.  First, they redesigned USA Today ‘s website and it is very pretty.  Unfortunately, they’ve let “pretty” get ahead of “useful” and it took several minutes to get past the pretty pictures and actually locate the link into my account.  At one point I hit the “subscribe” button (which is all the way down the page – I wonder how that link converts?) but I could do nothing on that page except subscribe.  Oh wait – there’s a “chat with us” link available.  Maybe they can help?

Nope.  I gave them my name and email and told them I was a current subscriber.  This was at 8:25 am.  The autorespond said their reps were unavailable until 8 am in the same time zone I was in.  Right – 25 minutes prior.  Fail.

I won’t bore you with the details of how I finally got to the right page but when I did I clicked on “wet paper”.  I was not given an option on how the issue would be resolved (I still don’t know).  I was told it would be resolved within “1-2 business days” which is what the follow-up email said.

Two big companies, two very different responses to the same problem.  With which company would you rather do business?  More importantly  which one is most like the way your business handles issues?

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What’s A Bagel?

Those of you in the NYC area have heard of Stew Leonard’s.  For the rest of you, Stew’s began as a dairy store (Clover Farms I believe) and is a sort of supermarket combined with a theme park and petting zoo.  Don’t go on the weekend or after school hours!

Stew Leonard's

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Recently, a local blogger pointed out yet another quirk (I’m being overly pleasant here) of the “I’m entitled” behavior which runs rampant around here:  that of eating much of what Stew sells while you shop by a tiny minority of the customer base.  I read Dan’s initial piece and shook my head in sympathy, or at least until a follow-up piece yesterday that featured a great business insight from Stew Junior who now runs the company.  I think we can all learn from it.

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Are Social Media Anti-Social?

Fascinating article in yesterday’s New York Times about the growing number of young people who are turning off Facebook.

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When I started reading it I thought it might have to do with privacy concerns or with cyber stalking. Instead, the focus was on something near and dear to my heart and which I think is applicable to any of us in business. We’ve discussed it before and I think it’s worth discussing again.
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Paperless Books

Today’s title might have been seen as an oxymoron just a few years ago.  I mean, the notion of a “book” without paper was as unrealistic as book publishers graciously declining to publish an author’s work and doing so promptly.

Then came e-readers which some said would hurt the book industry.  As with the music business, book publishers did whatever they could to prevent digital downloads of books by charging exorbitant prices (the same prices as if the book had to be printed on paper) and refusing to allow certain titles to go digital.  With the Kindle and other reading devices reaching scale (roughly 15% of American readers have one), the industry has come to recognize that porting content to another platform may be disruptive in the short-term but potentially a great thing over time.  Want more proof? Continue reading

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Spotting BS

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Yesterday’s rant was on the need to check out facts before finalizing opinions. A great example of this is in today’s NY Times piece on last night’s debate – it simply states what the candidate said and what multiple sources say on the same subjects to back up or question what was said. Hopefully the paper and many others will continue to do this right through the election next year.
But what happens when you do try to verify facts and find that there are multiple, conflicting data points? Could it be because some of them are fake? Continue reading

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What Ails Us

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Over the weekend, S&P downgraded the credit rating of the United States, something that was unthinkable not such a short time ago.  This morning, markets worldwide are tumbling.  As you know, we don’t talk about politics here unless those political activities bring us enlightenment from a business perspective and I can’t think of a more perfect example than this.

To reduce this to its simplest form, the credit downgrade was caused (and I’m NOT placing blame on either side here) by our “leaders'” inability to govern.  The effects of this are mostly unfelt yet, but the ones we’re already feeling are pretty bad.   But let’s keep it to business, shall we? Continue reading

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The Business of Digital Journalism

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The Columbia Journalism Review published a report yesterday which was summarized in the NY Times.  It caught my eye for some reasons I’ll explain and I think if you have any interest in digital media you’ll find it a good read.  You can download the entire report (all 146 pages!) at this link but the story in the Times is far briefer and gives you the gist of the findings.  In a few words, newspapers need to embrace digital media and that journalists “gain a fuller appreciation for how advertisers now reach their customers via social media, new-media ads and search engine optimization,” and that larger news organizations should consider creating or re-creating separate digital staffs, “particularly on the business side.”  Right on! Continue reading

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