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  • Customer Experience Audit: New York Times Beats Google

    Editor’s Note: This post is part of a series of Customer  Experience Audits. See all audits.

    The newspaper industry is one of the most disrupted in the past decade. Newspapers have always had a certain sophistication, history, and nostalgia associated with them. This makes it particularly hard to observe their disappearance. Of the newspaper industry’s most recognizable brands, the New York Times is one that brings an additional layer of style that makes so many of us never want to let go.

    At the same time, even I, a New York Times devotee, have to admit that my interaction with the famous brand has changed.. Ten years ago, I subscribed to the New York Times print edition. Today, on the other hand,  I am a digital subscriber. Although I love the idea of the newspaper, even I stopped buying it. Although I married a man who reads the New York Times (it was one of the requirements), I am not reading the digital subscription nearly as often as I used to read the paper itself.

    Because of my personal affinity with the paper, I was even more happy to read that the Times’ overall digital business is growing faster than Google. And that the annual growth of new online subscriptions is averaging 46% since 2011.

    Now that is a noteworthy shift. Very few “old school” or “traditional” businesses have executed a shift like this.

    How was the Times able to do it? By being bold and building a strategy in 2015 that they are executing flawlessly today. The Times did not wait to fade into oblivion before choosing to re-channel itself. Since April 24th, 2017, the news outlet added a millennial channel to its portfolio by joining Discover on Snapchat. This shift is arguably the most digital signaling a news brand can give to tell its customers, “I am where you are. I have not changed my core value proposition of reliable, credible news delivery. I have adapted to the times (no pun intended) and  am doing it in a different way.”

    For a brand to do what The New York Times is doing, it needs courageous leaders. It needs leaders who are able to know exactly what they are selling. Further, those leaders must be able to recognize that their customer has changed. The New York Times has earned its position in our CX Bold Moves Series for doing all of this without having an identity crisis.

    We see brands in such crisis every day. They are holding onto the image of their past customer. Or they are so afraid of change that they say they are investing in a digital transformation, but all they do is hire a Digital Transformation Director without providing support infrastructure around the role.

    46% average annual growth only happens when an organization is focused on that goal and when they allocate leadership and funding appropriately. The New York Times clearly has that focus and courage. Do you?

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    Culture and Access to Information

    By and large, people perceive culture as an HR discipline. The most common perception is that culture covers the soft side of performance. Culture is about how you do things, not so much about what you do. This approach to culture could not be more wrong. In fact, organizational culture is about so much more than a few words in a performance review sheet.  It is about leaders expressing values, and the action guidance their cultural behaviors provide.

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    Get Customer Experience Basics Right and You Don’t Need to Invest in Wow Moments

    Wow Moments are a Customer Experience hot topic. Customer experience professionals ideate how to build, prioritize, finance, and measure these Wow Moments. Chip and Dan Heath wrote a whole book on the topic: The Power of Moments. No Wow Moment saves you from negative word of mouth if your brand fails to get the customer experience basics right or to deliver the expected brand experience consistently.

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    How a Personal Interaction builds Customer Loyalty

    A customer-centric methodology is key to the successful outcome of my interaction with Hello Spud. It is the reason this story appears here, and not among the CX Big Fails! The company did not send an automated response. It did not deliver a message stating “sorry we couldn’t help you, would you like something else.” Instead, the company co-founder reached out to me personally across multiple channels (a handwritten note, followed by personal emails).

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