How well do you deliver?

Like many a wee young lad, once upon a time I had a paper route for a weekly newspaper. Once a week tall stacks of paper were dropped off at our driveway. I carefully folded each one in thirds, stuffed them into my bag, and then took off either by bike or on foot to make my deliveries. Crazy kids that we were back in those days, we actually put the paper inside your screen door.

My how things have changed. I pay to have the New York Times delivered each day. Let me suggest that "deliver" is a bit generous to describe what I get to look forward to each morning. If I am lucky (and at least once or twice a month I am not) a screeching car will slow down in front of my house around 7 a.m. and an anonymous arm will fling a blue NYT plastic bag containing the day's paper out on the sidewalk in front of my house.

Compared to having to go to the newsstand or Starbucks to get the paper, I guess this passes for home delivery. But somehow, it doesn't really feel like the paper is delivered when I still have to get dressed, put on shoes and a coat, and trudge out to pick up the paper. When I've gone to all that trouble, I may as well enjoy the paper at the coffee house and get myself a sugar-free hazelnut nonfat latte to boot.

Many companies and associations deliver value like my so-called paperboy: they spend time and energy engaging in what looks like providing service, but they don't quite get it to the door. Instead, the end users have to do just enough work that it makes them question their brand loyalty or organizational affiliation.

If I could find a delivery service that would put my morning paper inside my door, to bring that value right into my hands, I'd probably even pay a bit more for what now passes as "going the extra step," but once was the minimum expectation. Unfortunately, I don't have that option for home delivery of the Times. But for just about every other product or service I want, I do. And so do your members or customers.

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