Preparing for the Digital World | Globe with Numbers

Monthly Mash: Death of Newsweek & Preparing for Digital Change

Welcome to the Monthly Mash, a mashup of tools, tales and tips on customer service and the customer experience from around the blogosphere.

Volume 12: October 2012

Customer Experience Resource: The Digital World

I can hear you now: So Adam, you are supposed be providing us with useful tools and resources to help us better our customer service. This month you give us “the world.” Seriously, were you just too tired to write something useful?

Yes, I freely admit, the Digital World is a bit broad to be a “resource,” but considering the news this past month about Newsweek, I thought it was a good time to speak about the 50,000 foot view of the changing digital landscape that is affecting all businesses, regardless of industry.

In case you missed the news, starting in 2013, Newsweek, an American print icon, will cease to produce the paper version of its magazine. Newsweek is moving to a purely digital, paid subscription model. Only time will tell if their brand and partnership with the Daily Beast will allow this model to be profitable.

Preparing for the Digital World | Globe with NumbersOf course, print publications have been bleeding readers for a decade or more now, and all print publications have undergone massive changes in attempting to adapt to the changing media landscape.

Many have died, many have mutated to shells of their former selves, and many have tried to slowly embrace a digital/hybrid model, a model that will no doubt end as the WWII generation passes and the Baby Boom generation slips into decrepitude.

But the changes are not just for publications, they are for everyone. How you interact with your customers, how your customers view you and talk about you — all of these dynamics are being shaped by the rapidly shifting digital landscape.

Business is changing and, with it, customer service.

You see, I can recommend all of the books, software, and training programs that I want, but unless I work with you directly, I will never know exactly what your business needs, now or in the future. Predicting the future with accuracy is an impossible endeavor. However, failure to try is even worse.

To that end, I will leave you with a few questions:

  • What will your industry look like in 5-10 years?
  • Which aspects will change, which will not?
  • What digital resources are available now that can help you gain competitive advantage and manage the transition from today to tomorrow?

The Digital World is full of resources; try to figure out what change for your business is going to look like and start adopting the tools you are going to need to thrive in the evolving future.

The Month in Customer Service Blogging

A collection of the best posts about customer service and the customer experience I read this past month.

Someone Was Listening

Sometimes the most popular post from the previous month; sometimes just the one I liked best.

We got a lot of traction this month with the post 5 Lessons Salespeople Can Teach Customer Service Professionals. No one likes a pushy salesperson, but sales techniques, when used well, are methods to help customers get out of their own way to find the value we are offering. Good salespeople have valuable lessons to teach us about creating an amazing customer experience.


By Adam Toporek. Adam Toporek is an internationally recognized customer service expert, keynote speaker, and workshop leader. He is the author of Be Your Customer's Hero: Real-World Tips & Techniques for the Service Front Lines (2015), as well as the founder of the popular Customers That Stick® blog and co-host of the Crack the Customer Code podcast.

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6 replies
  1. Bill Dorman
    Bill Dorman says:

    I was reading the stats on local papers and the decline in subscriptions this past year; a trend sure to continue.

    Since I have been in the same industry for quite some time, I can say in some instances it has changed dramatically. In others, the same core principles apply and may be around at least in my lifetime.

    There are parts of my industry, the ‘agent’ is being replaced. However, in the arena I deal in, regardless of how knowledgeable the customer becomes, I think there will always be a place for an ‘adviser’. Why do you think we make it so hard to understand…..:).

    • Adam Toporek
      Adam Toporek says:

      Bill, in some ways, I think the more complicated your product, the better off you are. Certainly, direct personal services (like hair salons) are pretty safe. I think advisory industries (like insurance) are being hit but at the lower level of service. For instance, online/phone centered stock brokerages have impacted that industry but there are still plenty of brokers/advisors doing very well.

      The trend does fit with the themes here — providing value and service that differentiates you from the competition.

  2. Carolyn
    Carolyn says:

    I am most concerned about the future of journalism. The end of Newsweek’s print publication is a dangerous signal that in-depth reporting is in the ropes. As someone who grew up in the days of Watergate and the Pentagon Papers, I wonder whether in ten years people will continue to be more interested in celebrities than in national and international news.

    • Adam Toporek
      Adam Toporek says:

      You make great points Carolyn. I share your concerns and am actually even more concerned about local/regional reporting than national. I think Washington will always be covered (though in a different way) because the size and importance will make the economics of reporting still workable. But who will pay for reporters to go to local city council meetings? Where will the accountability be in mid-sized cities without a major daily paper? This article from 2009 is interesting Thanks for the comment!

  3. Brian D. Meeks
    Brian D. Meeks says:

    My industry is writing and selling books. It is undergoing massive changes, for the better, in my opinion. I love print books, but I’ve been won over by the ease of having hundreds of books available and with me at all time.

    It started with my iPad Kindle app and now I’ve started reading on my phone, too. Being able to fill little the annoying waste of time at standing in queue, with a good book, has made the lines less of a pain.

    I think that as more people discover that the story is just as wonderful, even without the page turning, it will win them over.

    I enjoyed the post.

    • Adam Toporek
      Adam Toporek says:

      Hey Brian, talk about another industry where digital has totally disrupted the status quo. Being in that industry, you are very wise to adapt your outlook. Nothing is stopping that train.

      I love reading books on my iPad, and as someone, who is moving soon, I am happy to have shed myself of the some 30 boxes of books that I had accumulated over 20+ years.

      I won’t miss paper that much (other than in rare non-tech friendly situations like camping or the beach); what I will miss are bookstores and libraries. I’ve spent many a pleasant day browsing through my old university library or thumbing through a stack of books in the bookstore coffee shop — discovering the content for myself based on the title and reading a few pages and not worried about whether the book was given two stars on Amazon because the cover was damaged when it arrived. It might make me a Luddite; but that part I will miss.


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