Are your doors open?

Customer service comes in many forms — in person, in print and online.


Some business problems apply to all models.

Have you ever checked into a hotel and discovered that the key card you’ve been given doesn’t work? Annoying, eh? You have to schlep back down to the front desk, dragging your bag behind you. …

Imagine you own a hotel called NEWS.  Every room has a bed, a table, a chair and a bath (collectively, the news report), but the rooms differ in design and style, because, you’ve learned, some guests prefer one style, some, another.

In our hotel of news, some readers have their report delivered to their home on paper, some read it on their phone, others on their tablet or their laptop. Some prefer podcasts, others want newsletters sent by email.

Every one of those “rooms” has a door.  How well are those doors working?

I stopped at the local weekly’s office last Friday and bought a copy, thinking I’d find a house ad inside or a postcard insert that I could use to start a print subscription. No form. Nor could the folks in the office start a subscription for me. I’d have to call the chain’s regional headquarters, I was apologetically told, or go online.

I subscribe to the digital version of an out-of-state daily. When I try to log in using my cell phone or my tablet, the font size of the log-in box is too small to read.

How common are problems like these? How many doors to the rooms we are so feverishly trying to design are hard to open? One wonders.

Want to test your doors?

  1. List the ways new readers become subscribers (i.e., your doors).
  2. Design a one-page form to capture all of the problems that new subscribers might encounter (plus “other,” for problems you can’t foresee).
  3. Ask friends or family members who aren’t subscribers to help with a two-week test. Assign each a particular “door,” give them the form and ask them to subscribe and use their subscription for at least two weeks (you can reimburse them and cancel their subscriptions when the test is over).
  4. Collect the forms. Evaluate the results. Prioritize the problems.
  5. Fix what’s wrong. (If you don’t know how and can’t afford to hire a vendor, see WHAT IF below.)
  6. Repeat steps 2-5 until your doors all open on command.

WHAT IF you don’t know how to fix a door or can’t afford to hire a vendor to fix it for you?

Your humble blogger would like to suggest a novel approach to that problem. In their weakened state, could local papers begin to help one another? We’ll always want to compete on the news report, of course (may the best news report win!). But couldn’t we help solve common business problems, share solutions? Chances are, whatever “door” issues you have are shared by others in your state. Why not use your state press association to brainstorm and share solutions?

Just a thought. Because we want all our NEWS hotels to stay open.

Author: TAM

For more about me, please visit

1 thought on “Are your doors open?”

  1. It is s pretty common problem for media organizations. They didn’t take the web that seriously when it became a thing 20 years ago, so it always got stuck in the back seat. Because web didn’t bring in a lot of revenue, very little investment was made in it. Many media companies are still trying to get the web (for desktop computers) right and they are being ‘blindsided’ by mobile.

    Many are stuck on antiquated dotNET CMS platforms that makes it hard to do anything quickly or well.

    This is especially true of a publisher that you and I used to work for.

    The side doors are real, in fact, there really is no front door to most websites. During layoffs, marketing people are often the first to go, leaving the job of converting visitors into paying subscribers to the ‘digital editor’ (who may actually be competing with the ‘print editors’) or to the developers.

    Neither one is likely to have a great understanding of UX/UIN for sales conversion.

    Pretty darned surprising, though that you walked into an office offered to give them money and they said no, thanks. Not a good business model.

    I don’t think it is outside the realm of possibility that competing news organizations could work together to share operational solutions (they often share printers) but it may be difficult in web-world if they are on different CMS platforms.

    Liked by 1 person

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