Thursday, February 14, 2013

if you want to stay in business

Dear Barnes and Noble,

You get that the book business is changing, you really do. You have a fine, easy to use website, you sell e-books, and you have developed your own excellent e-reader, the Nook, for your customers.

Much has changed. But one thing hasn't changed: the desire of your customers to buy actual specific books, and not just gift certificates, as presents for their loved ones. On, say, Valentine's Day.

So here's what you need to do. You need to get the process by which one person buys e-books for another person's Nook account straightened out. You need to get your employees on the same page, so that an inquiring customer isn't told one process by one employee at Christmas, and then a totally different process by other employees two months later.

And you need to get them tutored in that process, so that it doesn't take three clerks, the last one called in from the back room as some kind of senior advisor, all of them well-meaning but the first two unable to help and the third unable to explain confusing parts of the process except by repeating himself (like, what do you need the customer's e-mail address for if a different customer is going to download the books?) and half an hour at the register, while other customers get heated at the slow-moving line, to complete the process.

And then, come up with something nicer-looking for the giver physically to give to the recipient than a cash register receipt with a download code printed on it.

You might want to consider these things, if you want to stay in business.

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