Have you modeled your digital business based on traditional business models?

flickr featured in metro toronto {notes}Some organizations are trying to move into the digital world, but keeping their traditional business processes intact. I run into one of these again yesterday. I have been contemplating of discontinuing my digital Wall Street Journal subscription for a while as I feel that it has become a bit weak on news and I can get most of the news from other sources as New York Times digital subscription.

Last night, I decided finally to pull the plug and go to the Wall Street Journal web-site to remove my credit card information as the charge has been month-to-month and I knew that my next charge would be 28th. After 30 minutes I gave up as I could not find where to “unsubscribe”. As a final push, I was pretty sure that others might have had the same issue, but of some reason all of my searches went to a page that said “just remove the automatic billing from your account”. I did not find that place… anywhere…. Finally I found somebody else having the same issue and the only way to discontinue is to call them and talk to a physical person. Not even an email would do it, you have to call. What on earth is WSJ thinking? If they want to move into this century and make the customer experience convenient, they should let me discontinue anytime without having to talk to anybody and without them using my time to figure out how to make all this happen. I am sure that newspapers are not swimming in money nowadays, but alienating clients this way does not make it any better.WSJ.com should change their  business processes to work in the digital era.

Do you think I will be going back anytime soon to subscribe if the unsubscribe is so hard? I do not think so. What they are doing to themselves is exactly the opposite. They are trying to hold to the clients in the old-fashioned way by making the process of unsubscribe difficult and unpleasant. What WSJ end up doing with people like me is to push us away even further as they just spent my valuable time for their business process that does not bring me any value at all. The unsubscribe process should have taken me less than 30 second to do. Login to the web-site, go to account settings and remove the recurring billing. That’s it. When I finally got to talk to a person at WSJ, he wanted to connect with me to another department that was busy so he was gracious enough to do it himself so I would not have to call next day or spend any more time on this thing.

Funnily, another similar incident happened today with another company in the bring-and-mortar business. My son has had a pass to 24-hour fitness for a few months and now as he moved to a new city to study at a university, we wanted to cancel his membership. It was very easy to get the membership, but a hassle to cancel. First of all, they did not let us to cancel it at the gym where we signed him up, they told us to call a  number to do it. Guess what… that wasn’t easy either… They said that even if I was the one that did the signup for my son and my credit card is used on the account, it would have to be my son to cancel it.  After serious discussion, the person took off my credit card from the profile…. This organization is also keeping its processes in the brink-and-mortar age and it will take time for them to realize that the new generation of users will not tolerate this kind of waste of time that they are causing their customers. Yes, I do understand that by making this difficult for people, some just ignore the hassle and keep on paying.

What I truly believe is that I should be able to be sitting in the cockpit and deciding where my monies go if I have subscribed to something and specifically if I committed things online without taking to anybody, I should be able to discontinue things without having to go through a process that does not bring any value to me as consumer. I think I have to put a new standard in my family when subscribing to something. I will ask or figure out how to get out from the commitment before committing to anything.

Have you had similar experiences? I am sure you have. If you are building a business where you serve end users, think about what the end user experience that you want your solution/service to bring to the consumer. Do you want it to be appealing and a pleasurable to use? I you do, you should not implement processes that I just gave examples of.


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