The easiest way to improve your customer experience is to learn from the mistakes of others. There are many great courses out there but not every manager has time to attend training classes. What about learning on the job? This works well if your business has adopted a culture of accepting failures and learning from them. The most convenient way to gain expertise on how to improve your customer service experience is still to read books – here are our six favorites.
1. Exceptional Service, Exceptional Profit by Leonardo Inghilleri and Micah Solomon
The close link between a brand’s long-term success and satisfaction with its customer service is something we’ve repeatedly dealt with on our blog, especially in this blog post. Business Insider has revealed that more than 60 percent of customers turn their backs on brands if they have a negative customer service experience. In their not-so-new and yet highly relevant book, Leonardo Inghilleri and Micah Solomon address the question of why some brands are significantly more profitable than others. The title of the book says it all: it comes down to the quality of service. Using catchy, cross-industry examples such as Ritz-Carlton, BVLGARI and Carquest, the two authors impressively reveal methods, which every business can adopt to become a customer service experience champion.
2. Managing the Customer Experience by Shaun Smith and Joe Wheeler
Loyal customers do not grow on trees – they are the result of a well-thought-out strategy and consistent implementation of it. With this thesis, Shaun Smith and Joe Wheeler step up and present an approach that every business should adopt with the goal of achieving customer service experience excellence. The two authors do not hide the fact that it’s not easy to assess every business decision from the customers’ point of view, something that nowadays is commonly expected. This is a pleasantly realistic approach that calls for imitation precisely because of its critical way of looking at things.
3. The Effortless Experience by Matthew Dixon, Nick Toman and Rick DeLisi
Matthew Dixon and his co-authors develop a thesis on which the customer service industry has been focusing for over a decade. The ‘delight’ approach has reached its limits when new WOW effects cannot sustainably increase customer satisfaction. A new approach could be that brands should primarily focus on minimizing effort for customers before investing in the extra mile. Loyalty is fostered when life is made easier for customers and the customer service experience is easy and seamless. This is an exciting approach and an inspiring read!
4. Delivering Happiness by Tony Hsieh
No other company has dominated reports on customer service excellence in recent years more than the online retailer Zappos. CEO Tony Hsieh and his team have written e-commerce history with their ‘Powered by Service’ approach. Even Amazon was so impressed that it acquired the young company in 2009 for 1.2 billion dollars, without shaking the foundations of the Zappos culture. Stories like a phone call that lasted 10 hours between a Zappos service employee and a customer are just fabulous. Behind all of this lies a deeply impressive service philosophy about which Tony Hsieh provides intimate insights in this book: delivering happiness.
5. The Best Service is No Service by Bill Price
Part and parcel of the nature of the service industry is that sometimes customer interaction can get a little unceremonious. Bill Price, former VP of Global Customer Service at Amazon, explores the question of whether brands even have a chance of gaining anything with such interaction. Following the motto “the best ever service is one that is not needed at all”, Price creates an approach that helps companies focus on those service interactions where they have a realistic chance of positively influencing customer satisfaction. For all other cases, companies should strive to work on the root causes and eliminate the need for a call or an email, because that is where brands can only lose out.
6. The Thank You Economy by Gary Vaynerchuk
In times of increasing dominance from Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google and Netflix, we tend to think that technology is the be all and end all. Gary Vaynerchuk reminds us to not lose sight of our customers’ actual needs. Technical innovations have always existed, albeit not at the same rapid pace, as we are currently experiencing. However, these developments have never annulled the fundamental laws of customer focus. Brands that have always focused 100 percent on their customers have remained successful over the long term. This is a refreshing book with food for thought that is not necessarily new, but seems to have been forgotten of late.
Kimberly Meyer is Head of Global Marketing & Communication at B2X.