Newsletter #025 • 13 February 2019
Customer Centric
The weekly digest for the customer-obsessed
Dear Earthling,

When was the last time you went to a video store? 

Where I grew up, in a small village in the north of Portugal, there was one tiny video store, owned by a crazy guy who had become fascinated by UFOs after watching Steven Spielberg’s Close Encounters of the Third Kind. I would go there every weekend with family or friends, but, because the store was so small, we’d always end up renting the same old movies.

So when I walked into a Blockbuster for the first time, I was blown away. On the shelves stood all the latest movies,  just barely out of the theaters, and there was candy everywhere. Everybody loved it. 

Until they didn’t. In 2010, due to the rise of the internet and platforms such as Netflix, Blockbuster filed for bankruptcy and disappeared from the face of the earth. Except in one place: Alaska.  

The story we bring you today, produced by the Household Name podcast, is about the last Blockbuster store and the passionate manager who oversaw the Alaska store’s transformation from a one-stop shop for movie rentals into a selfie destination for nostalgic tourists. His secret? In large part, great customer-centric service. 

Happy listening,

🔖  This week's top picks 
🎬  The last Blockbuster
How has Blockbuster Video survived against the odds so long in Alaska, and what will its decline mean? Before the world’s last Blockbuster stores disappear forever, the Household Name podcast pays them a visit on the last frontier to find out. 
😲 Don’t batish your yisel: AI meets music, poetry, and adult entertainment
Computer-generated music? Free verse penned by an algorithm? Brand spanking new genres of adult entertainment, as predicted by statistical trends? Welcome to the Artifice of Intelligence. As researchers begin to dabble in AI-generated art, we might ask: When AI comes up with something bizarre and unusual, is it being clever? Or stupid?
Fools and their time metaphors
We need to talk about the way we talk about time. Calendar apps were supposed to make us feel at peace and in control. Instead, we’re scatter-brained, stressed, and over-booked.
👐 Opening up about comp isn’t easy — here’s how to get more transparent
Whether it’s taking action to boost scores on employee satisfaction surveys or working to build a more candid culture, most founders strive to infuse transparency into the DNA of their startups. But when the more specific topic of compensation transparency comes up, some start to shift uncomfortably in their seats, perhaps out of a fear that they’ll be pressured to share everyone’s salary in a spreadsheet for all to see. But for bethanye McKinney Blount, these concerns miss the mark.
🐉 Eastbound enterprise: adapting to the Chinese market
In the 21st century, no company with an eye on global expansion can afford to ignore China. However, companies wanting to do business in China will find themselves operating in a very different environment, where rules and relationships change. An understanding of the nuances and challenges of the Chinese market is essential before engaging this potentially lucrative region.
💡 Speaking words of wisdom

I’ve had a customer come in and say: 'I’m looking for a John Wayne movie'. Well, I’m a John Wayne fanatic. So I talk for half an hour with her because her husband is sick and he likes John Wayne movies. She went back home like 'you made me feel important' and that’s what we try to do with our customers.

— Kevin Daymude, Blockbuster Alaska General Manager

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