Dear New York Times

Remember me, I used to be a daily subscriber. I got home delivery and you got a daily reader in one of the most affluent counties in America. But then you suddenly stopped delivering. For future reference, here are four simple steps to turning annoyed customers into fans (from Chip Bell via Business 2.0):

  1. Apologize - train employees to apologize sincerely.
  2. Empathize - ask customers what they need to make the situation right.
  3. Fix it quickly - deal with the problem as soon as possible. Don’t try to distract the customer with goods or services that don’t address the complaint.
  4. Follow Up - prove that you care by insuring that the customer is satisfied.

Here’s how you went wrong:

  1. Don’t be so evasive - if you fired my delivery person or my delivery person quit, then say so. Don’t feed me some jargon about the route. And try warning me in advance.

  2. Understand your value add - I’d save money if I only bought the paper on days I knew I was going to read it. I’m paying for home delivery. Giving me a credit for missed papers doesn’t make the situation right. It just means that you’re not a thief. And how about going the distance by crediting the replacement cost of the paper rather than the prorated subscription cost.

  3. Do something - on Saturday you said that I’d get a paper on Monday. You also said that I didn’t receive a paper last Thursday and Friday when I did. By Monday your credibility is running a bit thin. How about checking with the distribution center for more information or giving me automatic credit until the distributor actually confirms delivery? Anything other than: you don’t know why I didn’t get a paper and I can get a credit for each missed paper in exchange for 5 minutes of my life.