Publishers should avoid the 68 per cent

In her selling presentation at the Alberta Weekly Newspapers Association Symposium Barbari Griess had sales representatives identify why customers are lost in a module.   The figures are interesting.   One per cent of customers die, 14 per cent stop being customers because of product dissatisfaction, nine per cent move because of competitive reasons, five per cent form other business relationships. But the greatest reason (68 per cent) customers are lost is because of poor attitude and customer service.

Community newspapers across Canada are customers of Canada Post.  Community newspapers use Canada Post’s services of Publications Mail or AdMail delivery.   We compete with Canada Post for the distribution of flyers.   In some cases, community newspapers join with Canada Post in delivering advertising material for clients at a rate that is less than either could provide separately.

Customers who are using community newspapers to deliver advertising materials are choosing papers for cost, for reliability, for service, for speed, and for the value publishers can deliver.  Newspapers choose a variety of methods to distribute their customer’s materials and one of the major methods is Canada Post.

Our relationship with our clients is as important as our relationship with Canada Post. 

The Canadian Community Newspapers Association (CCNA) is working at nurturing its relationship with Canada Post in Ottawa.   But it becomes more important across Canada for publishers to work at building their relationships with their local post office. We know and understand the need for a reliable service that distributes papers and flyers to our readers in a timely manner. 

As publishers, we may experience problems in production that may delay delivery. We know that often when we have trouble handling a certain size flyer, we can expect letter carriers or even our own carriers to have difficulty.  If we identify and correct those problems before we transfer handling costs to the post office, we help to maintain our relationship. In many cases we are looking after the needs of our own employees and customers as much as the needs of Canada Post.

When the post office identifies a problem and we don’t work with postal officials to solve it, we can expect that added costs will be passed on to us.
It is important that we don’t make ourselves part of the 68 per cent because of our attitude.  Customer service is a two-way street.   We have to provide as much service to the post office as they provide to us.  We may even identify ways for Canada Post to increase revenue while reducing our costs.

We must also protect our customers who rely on us to get their messages out. 

Admail is extremely important to papers offering total market coverage in rural areas of Canada. It affords papers an inexpensive method of reaching readers across broad stretches of territory.  Publications Mail allows Canadians to continue to receive their “home town newspaper,” whether they live on the other side of the city or across the country.  Those two services are available through Canada Post.

It is refreshing to see how quickly that Canada Post has responded to the concerns of CCNA in regards to the changes that were introduced in 2004. 

If we find ourselves unable to work with Canada Post, we can expect major increases in mailing costs, and that may result in newspapers having to form other relationships.  Our first strategy has been to work on the relationship with Canada Post.  It appears to be working.

(Jim Cumming is Chairman of the Board of CCNA.)