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Guest Blog: Becoming a Blockbuster?

This week we feature an article by Ted Janusz who writes about how customers are always looking for a better customer experience. It’s important to stay up to date on new technology and trends in order to keep your customers and attract new ones. 

Was this a typical Friday event for you and your family? Would you or your parents drive to your neighborhood Blockbuster store, hoping to get a copy of the latest movie release before they would all be rented? And then you hoped you could watch the film within 48 hours, else you would be charged that dreaded late fee?

Back in 2004, Blockbuster had 60,000 employees, 9,000 stores and appeared invincible. In fact, at one point, a new store was becoming a Blockbuster every 24 hours. But after being slapped with a late fee of $40 on a copy of the movie Apollo 13, Blockbuster customer Reed Hastings decided to do something about it. In 1997, he co-founded Netflix, which would not charge late fees but would eventually stream movies online, and soon Blockbuster disappeared. (Surprisingly, Blockbuster could have bought Hasting’s company in 2000 for $50 million.)

Another example: BlackBerry dominated the business smartphone market. As a result, it dismissed the new iPhone as a “mere consumer toy.” However, the bring your own device to work (BYOD) movement helped to change that. After many years of false starts then attempting to catch up to smartphone market leaders, a new device was just recently introduced, the BlackBerry KEYone, but it is marketed, manufactured, and distributed, not by Blackberry but by TCL.

As a final example, why would any consumer want to go through the time and effort to travel to a mall or other shopping destination, when they can now order just about anything painlessly, with just a few clicks on Amazon or other retail websites? Online sales are expected to grow to more than $400 billion by 2018. That is nearly a half trillion dollars of goods and services that consumers will no longer trudge to brick-and-mortar stores to get.

As a result, retail consultant Howard Davidowitz predicts that up to 50 percent of America’s shopping malls vanish within 15 to 20 years. He expects that only upscale shopping centers that can create a unique customer experience, by providing anchors like Neiman Marcus and Saks Fifth Avenue, will survive.

Malls which depend on anchors like JCPenney and Sears, which are quickly closing stores, are the most likely to die. “Middle-level stores in middle-level malls are going to be extinct because they don’t make sense,” claims Davidowitz. “That’s why we haven’t built a major enclosed mall since 2006.”

On the other hand, Facebook, which has long been the dominant player in the social media space, is apparently not resting on its laurels but is instead listening to its customers. For instance, because of the ease and proliferation of recording and sharing video, Facebook has inserted a feature at the top of the new version of their app. The feature allows you to easily capture Your Story to share with your friends.

The point is that the more our business is successful, the more that we want to keep it the same, and force consumers to continue play by our rules. However, when it comes to the customer experience, consumers are constantly looking for newer, better, faster, cheaper or easier ways of doing things. Are you playing by your rules, or by theirs?

Ted Janusz is a master facilitator with Shepard Presentations and The Customer Focus. He loves to work with people, and it shows.  His energy, enthusiasm and expertise will ignite, inform and motivate your audience.

For more articles from Shep Hyken and his guest contributors go to customerserviceblog.com.

Read Shep’s latest Forbes Article: Ann Coulter And Delta Air Lines Clash Over Seat Assignments


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