Newsletter #030 • 20 March 2019
Customer Centric
The weekly digest for the customer-obsessed
Dear Earthling,

I’m Maria, and I’m addicted to subscription-based products.

My story is probably like yours. First, it was Spotify. Who has the money or storage space for every one of Miles Davis’ 138 albums? Then, Netflix. What better way to spend the night in? 

And now—now it’s beyond my control. All-natural deodorant. Posh doggy snacks. Radical lit mags. Every month, boxes heaped and piled on my doorstep. 

I bet you’re collapsing more than a few cardboard boxes yourself. Millions of consumers around the world now sign up for one or more subscription products. 

Personalized vitamin regimens. High-end washing machines. Luxury dental floss, for the most pampered of bleeding gums. The gym you never go to. Pistachio cream from small Sicilian farming towns. Spreads made of freshly pitted Argentinian olives. Premium couscous from Casablanca—who would deign to eat standard grains, knowing what quality is out there?

There’s a subscription service for every flavor, every quirk, every desire.

But why have consumers become so obsessed with subscriptions? Is it a millennial thing? And, more importantly, what’s in it for businesses? 

This week, we bring you a razor-sharp article about our love affair with subscription products. Rafaela Cortez, editorial manager at Unbabel, explains why we’re so obsessed with these services, and how businesses stand to benefit. 

Keep obsessing,

🔖  This week's top picks 
💖 Our love affair with subscription products
Subscription models are a boon to business — until customers cancel memberships.

This week on the Unbabel blog, we get to know the millennials fueling the subscription economy, as well as what it takes to keep them on board. 
💪 Operational Transparency: show your customers how hard you're working for them
It has long been believed that the more contact an operation has with its customers, the less efficiently it runs. Customers are, as a researcher in the 1960s boldly called them, “environmental disturbances.” As the argument goes, separating customers from internal processes through physical distance, time, or the introduction of technology enables companies to perform more efficiently. But this research shows that the pendulum can swing too far. When customers are cordoned off from a company’s operation, they are less likely to fully understand and appreciate the value being created. As a result, they are less satisfied, less willing to pay, less trusting, and less loyal to the company over time.
📱 The iPhone changed our lives. Now Apple needs to tackle addiction
In 1976, Steve Jobs dreamed of a “computer for the rest of us”. Forty years later, his dream has been realized, and more than a third of the world’s population now uses a smartphone. But the success of these devices has also brought unintended consequences, including concerns around addiction and overuse.
🏝️ This startup stranded customers overseas with no refunds
We Roam’s broken promises about a new life of remote work are an object lesson in the darker side of startup turnover.
🤖 The man who helped invent virtual assistants thinks they’re doomed without a new AI approach
Boris Katz has spent his career trying to help machines master language. He believes that current AI techniques aren’t enough to make Siri or Alexa truly smart.
💡 Speaking words of wisdom

In the age of the customer, executives don’t decide how customer-centric their companies are — customers do.

— Kate Leggett, VP, Principal Analyst at Forrester Research

Pssst, tweet me.
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