“Let us pay”

John Lanchester, whose book Whoops! I wrote about in this earlier post, has a terrific piece about the newspaper industry in the latest issue of the London Review of Books. You can read it in full here.

Anyone interested in print journalism, online media and the power of economic (and cultural) change to rip the heart out of business models which have existed for decades will find it an interesting read.

But what, I hear you asking, does this have to do with social enterprise? Well, Lanchester’s conclusions are relevant to virtually all businesses, and not just those whose product or service can be digitised. The answer he comes up with is: ‘let us pay’ — make it as easy, as painless, as convenient and as transparent as possible for those who are prepared to pay for online content to do so.

If we think about this in terms of the ‘customer experience’ then the relevance is clear. Our customers are more likely to purchase if the means of doing so are convenient and effortless, and what’s on offer meets their needs. Or to put it another way, we have to ensure  that our ‘offer’ meets the changing requirements of the customer…

The reason I mention this is because in an earlier post we talked about research that showed that some social enterprises are failing to clinch sales even to some other social enterprises because their customer experience is just too poor and puts too many obstacles in the way….

The other message I took away from the piece is that of re-examining every aspect of the customer experience now, while it’s possible to do something about it, not later (like the newspaper proprietors), in the teeth of the greatest structural change imaginable, when the old business models simply have to be torn up…

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