Creating Virtual Ladies With Stubby Pencils
The downfall of Bookspan, no doubt, was caused by specialization.
“Whoever knows only one direct marketing skill,” wrote Martin Gross, “whether it’s art direction, copywriting or list management, does not even know that properly.”
In direct marketing—and most other businesses—what happens in one area directly affects other areas. And when people are hired for a specific job in a specific department, that job and department are the only frame of reference this newbie has. Without seeing the big picture—and not having the mentality of a marketer—the result can be customer abuse rather than customer delight.
Apple and Bookspan—Textbook Mediocrity
Three weeks ago I ordered a new battery for my laptop from Apple online. I gave them my credit card and a few days later the product arrived and is working fine. Here is part of a long e-mail sent to me by Apple:
Dear Apple Customer,
Thank you for shopping at the Apple Store!
If you already have paid for your purchase, please retain this invoice receipt for your records.
If you need to send payment to Apple, please reference Apple’s Invoice Number on your remittance. After remitting payment, please retain this invoice receipt for your records.
This is absolute gibberish. Apple is saying, “We don’t know if you paid or not.” My confidence in Apple—one of the most sophisticated high-tech companies in the world—plummeted.
Who approved this communication—some IT nerd? Who wrote it—a programmer? What is Apple thinking?
Clearly the people in charge of Apple fulfillment emphatically aren’t “ladies with stubby pencils” who’ve talked to customers and who intimately know how their system works.
The folks at Bookspan are far worse. The Pennsylvania attorney general’s rap sheet is truly embarrassing—as is the fact that the venerable old Book-of-the-Month’s back-end misfeasance ended up on the Florida State’s “Fraud Update” Web site: