As News Limited and Fairfax migrate more newspaper customers from newsagent acquired newspaper home delivery to publisher controlled subscription arrangements and the management of distribution of newspapers moves from inside the newsagency shop to separately run depots, newsagents need to let go of their customers.
Losing ownership of the direct customer relationship is proving difficult to navigate for some newsagents. It won’t work some say, how can they help customers from so far away others say, they don’t know our area others day.
None of this matters of course as the decision is made and the course of action set. Newsagents need to focus on letting go in a way that respects their long-term customers yet serves the business decision made by newspaper publishers.
The new arrangements don’t give newsagents the opportunity to provide the level of customer service they have provided in the past. This is the way of the world being pursued by newspaper publishers. So, let go in a way that helps customers understand and still think good of the newsagency.
Newsagents facing this, losing ownership of newspaper home delivery customers at their shop, need to develop a strategy for navigating this. Such a strategy needs to have at its heart good customer communications – explaining what is happening and why and how the business will continue to serve them in other ways. At the same time, the newsagency should have a process or mechanism of keeping any predominantly newspaper delivery customers engaged with the business – for the future of the business.
I see too much energy being spent complaining about what is happening and not being spent on how to mitigate the situation for the newsagency and its customers.
Newsagents transitioning to retail only need to focus on that and let go of distribution customers. Newsagents focusing on distribution need to be clear about what they can manage and control and focus on that. Publishers who want to own the customer need to take responsibility for that and own it through professional processes that do not harm the supply and service chain.