Saturday, December 15, 2012

Newspaper newbies

'Tis the season for brain farting,
Fa la la la la, la la la la

Two unrelated random bits of newspaper-related amusing confusing here, just for grins.

First, Bay Area Citizen's confusion about League City's new police chief, title grabs from yesterday and today:
Can you blame them, really?  There's so much turn-over in League City that it's easy to get confused.  Part of me suspects that they did this intentionally, to amuse those of us who track the revolving doors. 

In case you were wondering, the correct answer is Kramm.  He seems to have an impressive resume and has definitely exhibited staying-power within our municipal system. 

Staying power to date, that is.  Let's hope they don't manage to run him off in the manner of so many other administrative leaders, such as this one, whose departure I suspect was obsurated by those allegations, or these, who made a point of leaving in tandem. 

OK, our second brain fart of the post has to do with Galveston County Daily News's confused administration of its new paywall.  I went ahead and signed up for a one month subscription, but not without an unnecessary helping of technical difficulty.
The first thing it did was refuse to associate the delivery address with the credit card billing address.  There was a radio button intended to mate the two, but I tried it twice and it didn't work, so I had to fill them both in manually. 

Here for reference is the subscription rate structure, screen-grabbed from this site:
But here is the response I got when I paid my fourteen bucks:

Four days?! 
That is one hell of an expensive newspaper.
OK, obviously their Active Server Pages were not functioning properly, but I figured that this was perhaps just an online glitch.  But I got the same information in a confirmatory email:
Good grief.
I guess I'll wait until December 17 and see whether my subscription money is actually going to disappear down a black hole.
Here is my advice for Galveston County Daily News

When you take money from people, especially when you take money for something that was previously free, you need to accomplish this task with grace and aplomb in order to minimize the chances that you will alienate your customers.  It's called "salesmanship" and there's nothing new about it - hundreds of thousands of internet businesses operate functional ASPs that accomplish this task seamlessly. 

The psychology of selling is surprisingly delicate and you would be wise to snap to this fact.  To give you an example, at the ripe old age of 15 when I started working six days a week as a waitress in a privately-owned Dairy-Queen style drive-in, we were rigorously taught that, if customers did not produce their payment immediately following the placement of their order, we were to prompt them with the line, "Let me give you your change" (it was a cash-only establishment).  It was forbidden to make any reference to the "taking" of money from the customer because that would offend their sensibilities - everything had to be couched in terms of what was "given". 

We would routinely encounter customers who would object to payment in advance of delivery, upon which we would apply the following psychology:  "If I wait to give you your change until after I give you your hamburger, first of all your hands are going to be full with your burger and shake so it will be awkward for me to hand you anything additional, and second of all, I'm going to have to get in line at the cash register behind the other waitresses, and I don't want your burger to get cold because you were made to wait unnecessarily."  One hundred percent of the time, that line worked to satisfy the balky customer, and they would pay promptly, up front as the system was designed. 

My point is, it's extremely important to handle the entire payment transaction in a manner that reflects maximum possible benefit for the customer.  With grace and aplomb.  This is a rule as old as human civilization itself, and I learned it thoroughly before I was even old enough to legally qualify for minimum wage (at the time, I was making $2.75 per hour - the same price as the burgers I was "giving").  There is no valid reason in this day and age why any business entity taking internet payments should screw this kind of thing up. 

With that said, may everyone have a relatively sane final mad dash to complete Christmas preparations.  May you enjoy a seamless and painless payment process wherever you shop this week. 

No comments:

Post a Comment

I'm forced to moderate comments because the spammers have become too much for me to keep up with. If you have a legitimate comment, I will post it promptly. Sorry for the inconvenience.