• Bill Leinweber

  • About Bill Leinweber

    Bill Leinweber's mission is to help businesses and organizations grow by combining efficient processes with great customer and employee experience.

    Bill is the Chief Experience Officer & Owner of Landmark Experience LLC, a consultancy, where he loves to help business leaders walk in their customers' shoes and devise memorable and meaningful experiences for both customers, guests, visitors, employees and business partners. After all, have you ever heard of customer loyalty and business growth without GREAT customer experience?

    Bill's 30 year career spans retail and office products distribution operations in both small, family-owned and global mega-businesses. He has managed customer service operations, sales support, customer on-boarding and business intelligence teams while also serving as an internal consultant and subject matter expert. Bill has helped his past employers improve their customer engagement processes and achieve their goals of customer experience excellence and loyalty.

    Bill loves to talk and speak about customer experience as well, so don't be afraid to ask!

    Bill Leinweber
    Landmark Experience

  • Advertisements

Finally – Blockbuster Files Bankruptcy

I say finally, because six years ago I predicted Blockbuster would be


Netflix has just the ticket to out pace Blockbuster


bankrupt before the decade was out.  Okay, I may have been off by a year or two but needless to say, I was not at all surprised by the news.

My prediction was based solely on what a horrible retail experience Blockbuster presented to the public.  In my younger years, my earliest work experience was in the retail space.  Today, I can walk into just about any retail establishment, mosey around, engage the “experience” and then tell you what the Board of Directors and upper management spend most of their time talking about – and how much time they spend talking about (or not talking about ) the customer experience.  I think they call this “experiential.”

In the case of Blockbuster, my observations of their retail experience were indicative of much bigger problems in the way the company was being managed.  The retail experience alone left me believing that Blockbuster upper management rarely, if ever, actually stepped foot into one of their stores.

Their model was flawed on so many levels.  First, the store designs were clunky and generally unfriendly.  The finding-a-movie part of the store experience wasn’t too bad but, the check-out process was painfully ill-designed.  It seemed I ALWAYS waited in line, any time of day or night.  Even with scanners, the check-out was slow.  Then the clerk would have to walk away from the register and meet you at the door (after you passed through their obstacle course of displays and lines of waiting patrons) to hand you your movies.  Back and forth the clerks would walk while the next customer waited in line.  This cake got iced when some not so brilliant but presumably well-meaning upper management person decided that Blockbuster needed “greeters.”

I digress for a moment about greeters.  Greeters are a stupid idea.  I mean, I’ve just never seen a greeter that really did anything or added any value to the shopping experience.  WalMart has greeters.  Meijer has greeters.  I guess if you walk into a store and need to ask, “Where’s the hardware department,” then a greeter may be helpful but for the most part customers don’t need or want greeters.  Train the greeters to do something useful.  At the very least, empower them with some authority to make a difference.  I guess if you want to pay my mom or dad six bucks an hour to stand at your door saying, “Welcome to Meijer,” that’s fine.  I’m just saying it is unnecessary.  Hang up a sign that says, “Welcome!”

The last place on earth that needed a greeter was Blockbuster.  And yet, apparently the edict came down from above that every customer would be “greeted” as they walked through the door.  Obviously, they couldn’t afford to hire mom or dad to do the greeting so they instructed their associates at the registers to stop what they’re doing, turn away from the customer you’re waiting on and GREET the customer walking through the door – “Welcome to Blockbuster.”  Really?  You want to punish the customer who is ready to check out with cash in hand just so you can greet the customer walking in the door?

The Blockbuster greeter debacle was such a blatant and brainless act of out-of-touch-with-your-customer-experience-ness, that one day I just walked out of their store never to return.  And it was on that day that I said, if Blockbuster management is this detached from their store operations and the customer experience, what hope does this company have long-term?  If they run the rest of their operation with the same dimwittedness as they do their stores, then I smell bankruptcy.

Several years later and by the time Netflix was bursting upon the scene, I knew their fate was sealed.  Blockbuster had already demonstrated not only their lack of agility in adapting to changing trends but also the inability to even recognize or take advantage of the trends.

Netflix showed up with an awe-inspiring business model.  Anyone who has ever worked in a distribution warehouse must salivate with envy.  Every one of their products is exactly the same size – a 4-1/2” disc that ships in the mail!  (Yes, I know they have Bluray and stuff too).  Having worked in the office supply business for 20 years where you have to be able to ship everything from a 52 lb box of copy paper down to a simple package of sticky notes, I keenly appreciate the advantage of having an entire inventory of same size items.  But Netflix really demonstrated their customer focus with their outstanding website and their elimination of the biggest pain for movie watchers – late fees.  Netflix merely took a queue from my mom – you don’t get dessert until you finish what is on your plate.  What better motivation?  You don’t get your next DVD until you return the ones you already have – brilliant!  The latest fad in customer satisfaction metrics is, “How easy is it to do business with us?”  On that metric alone, Netflix went sailing past Blockbuster.

The Blockbuster bankruptcy is a textbook example of getting too big, too out of touch and too slow to move quickly enough to survive.  Take a lesson.  Biggest is almost never the best.  And don’t spend so much time behind office closed-doors churning over metrics and mountains of customer data at the expense of actually experiencing your customer experience!  Send someone in to see what it’s like to be your customer.  How easy is it?  Then get them to report their findings back to you – pronto!

One Response

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Jason Martin, Bill Leinweber. Bill Leinweber said: My prediction comes true! Read why the Blockbuster bankruptcy is no surprise to me. http://wp.me/pY0fv-1k […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: