10 Customer Experience Books Worthy of Discussion in 2020

Business Books on a Bookshelf

One of the featured segments on the Experience This! podcast is called Book Report, where we feature an important customer experience or customer service book and share it in a unique way. Instead of recording an interview with the author (who invariably has been interviewed dozens of times about the book on other podcasts), we ask them to summarize the book in less than two minutes and then read their favorite passage. My co-host Joey Coleman and I then discuss the book and read our favorite passages as well.

Below are 10 books that we featured in 2020, throughout Seasons 5 and 6 of the show, along with each author’s words about why the book deserves a spot on your bookshelf.

Ignore Your Customers and They’ll Go Away: The Simple Playbook for Delivering the Ultimate Customer Service Experience by Micah Solomon (Episode 88)

Solomon: Let me tell you real briefly who I am, what I do. I’m a customer service turnaround expert, which means I spend my time consulting, speaking and training for a variety of quite fabulous companies across many industries. I help them transform their customer service, their customer experience, their company culture, and ultimately their bottom-line results.

I’ve included as much of that experience and insight as I could into my new book because even today, so many companies miss the mark when it comes to delivering exceptional customer service. I provide my readers with a practical step-by-step guide to crafting a customer service experience and a customer-focused culture that can transform the performance and the brand reputation of just about any business, large or small or medium and sustainably improve the bottom line.

I’ve included case studies and stories and interviews that I personally assembled from some of today’s best known, most beloved customer focused companies like Cleveland Clinic, USAA Insurance, Ritz Carlton, Nordstrom, as well as some newer names that are doing fantastic job as well, like Dry Bar and Mod Pizza.

I share the language to use and avoid when talking to customers, how to recruit, hire, onboard, train and inspire the best employees, the ones that you really want in your customer facing positions. I talk about how to win over complainers and even talk about mystery shopping yourself to discover how your company is actually treating customers. I really look forward to sharing this book with you. Thank you.

The Customer of the Future: 10 Guiding Principles For Winning Tomorrow’s Business by Blake Morgan (Episode 90)

Morgan: This is a book that takes readers through 10 guiding principles that through all of my research, through my own interviews with executives all over the world, I believed every person would benefit from understanding as they think about the experiences they are creating for other people every single day. And these 10 principles can be bucketed into three areas.

First, we’ve got the psychological pieces of an experience strategy and that can include mindset. One thing most companies just cannot do: mindset. The second is culture, one of the hugely important pieces and under-appreciated pieces of a good customer experience. And the third piece is leadership development.

The other two buckets, along with psychological, are technical and experiential, and those are equally important. But if we can get the psychological pieces right, those seemingly invisible things that companies just keep failing at like how employees feel at work, like customer experience focus across the business, the technical piece doesn’t matter, nor does marketing and other aspects of the business. And I do believe that this updated customer experience book could be relevant for anyone, even if you have a small business, whether you work for a big corporation or you’re just interested in learning more about this exciting growing topic of customer experience.

So I am really excited about all this new content and the chance to bring you to the book, and I’d love to hear what you think of it. Thanks.

Non-Obvious Megatrends: How to See What Others Miss and Predict the Future by Rohit Bhargava (Episode 101)

Bhargava: [This book] is all about how to see the world a little bit differently and how to put the pieces together across multiple industries and really do what I think we need to do a little bit more of in the world, which is be more open-minded and read the things that we don’t agree with and try and think for ourselves. And so the book outlines a process to do that, something that I call non-obvious thinking, and then it spotlights 10 different megatrends that I believe are changing the world and our culture and how we believe what we believe in and how we choose to buy or sell certain things.

One of the megatrends that I think is really relevant particularly when it comes to customer experience is a trend that I called human mode. Human mode was a response to the idea that, in a world where we have more and more automation and we see more technology coming, we believe in and trust each other and the human power, and so human mode is partially about this idea that, in a situation where we have human contact, we treat that as a luxury and we choose to engage with people more, and we’re sometimes willing to even pay more for that.

But the other side of it is that we expect that the things that we buy and the things that we consume are made with more empathy and are made in more human ways, and so one of the ideas that I really challenge people to think of is, instead of just looking at something that’s put out and saying that’s made in the USA or that’s made in Italy, what if we put it out that something was made with empathy? What would that look like?

A great example is what Starbucks has been doing across a couple of different locations where they employ entirely deaf or hearing-impaired workers in a particular location. They have one of these in D.C. near where I live, near Gallaudet University, and it’s fascinating because not only are they doing something that is amazing for the community there, but, people who go in, whether they’re hearing impaired or not, are now trying to order their drinks using sign language, and I think that that’s what starts to happen. When we create these human experiences, we become more human ourselves, and that’s what I really love about that trend.

So that’s one megatrend. There’s nine others, but I think there’s a lot of relationship between experiences, and, ultimately, what the book is about is trying to get you to think a little bit differently about the world, so I hope you enjoy it.

Think. Do. Say.: How to Seize Attention and Build Trust in a Busy, Busy World by Ron Tite (Episode 102)

Tite: People today are inundated with nonstop content, broken promises, endless product extensions and pressure from lame articles like, “The Seven Things that Successful People Do Every Single Day.” Yeah, what do we do? We throw vanity metrics at them, we give superficial techniques on how to solve the problems and drive them towards a talk or a white paper and … Really? Come on. We’ve got to be better than this, because at the end of the day, the real problem is that consumers and colleagues and leaders don’t know where to look and they don’t know who to trust.

What we know is that great leaders and great organizations are all based on what they think, what they do and what they say, and all three together, because if all you do as a leader is think, think, think, well, then you’re a think tank, and there’s a lot of competition out there because anybody with a Maya Angelou quote and an Instagram account is a philosopher these days. Now if all you do is do, do, do, well, then as an organization, you’re a sweatshop, and as a person, well, you’re probably not as popular with your colleagues as you think you are, because you’re probably defining your success by the number of hours you work, not the quality of those hours. And if as an organization or as a person, all you do is talk about the things you’re going to do, but you never actually do them, you’ll be found out.

It is about thinking and doing and saying, and that is what this book explores.

Fanocracy: Turning Fans into Customers and Customers into Fans by David Meerman Scott and Reiko Scott (Episode 103)

David Meerman Scott: Over the last few years, I noticed that the pendulum has swung too far in the direction of superficial online communications at a time when people are hungry for a true human connection. So I started talking about that with my daughter Reiko – she’s now 27 – we started about five years ago having this discussion. And I said, ‘Oh my God, I’m such a Grateful Dead geek! I’ve been to 75 Grateful Dead concerts, 804 live music concerts in my life.’ And Reiko said, ‘I know Daddy, I’m a massive Harry Potter fan.’

So we got to thinking about how so much online is superficial and it bugs the hell out of people. When you get on an email list and you get a constant set of emails, or someone connects with you on LinkedIn and tries to sell you something, and yet at the same time, we’re fans of the things we love. So Reiko and I spent five years researching this idea of “fandom.” Our thesis is that fandom is something that any organization or any person can create. The same ideas that build fans of the Grateful Dead and build fans of Harry Potter, can be achieved by any organization.

We found examples of all kinds of government agencies, nonprofits, B2B companies, software companies, consumer product brands, doctors, lawyers, dentists that have built fans. In fact, we found a government agency that has over 50 million fans. You can be walking down the street in any city in the world and not be surprised if somebody is walking towards you wearing a t-shirt with a NASA logo. NASA has 50 million fans.

There’s no question after doing the research, which became our book, that my daughter Reiko and I learned that anybody can build fans and in our book we have a prescription for how anyone can do it.

The Cult of the Customer: Create An Amazing Customer Experience That Turns Satisfied Customers Into Customer Evangelists by Shep Hyken (Episode 106)

Hyken: This is an updated and revised edition from a book that I wrote almost 12 years ago; same title, but updated stats and facts, unless they were evergreen. We replaced all of it with stats and information that were less than a year or so old. So everything’s updated, got rid of some stories, changed up a few stories. And why is the title, The Cult of the Customer? Because that’s what the publisher said they wanted the title to be. So what is the cult of the customer? This is actually a cult you want to belong to.

So I believe that all customers go through five phases as they go from the beginning of their journey to their final phase, which is one where they’re amazed and love the company. Rather than use the word phase, we’re actually using the word cult. So let’s talk about the five cults. By the way, this is for everybody in any organization that deals with customers and that’s everyone. Because if you don’t have an outside customer, you have an internal customer and you need to take care of them as well. And also the book is not meant to be read. It’s meant to be used. There’s exercises in the back of the book that you can use.

On to the five cults: number one, it’s uncertainty. Customers aren’t sure what they’re getting into. Number two, they get into alignment with the company, as they start to do business with them. Number three, they experience what it is you want them to experience. Hopefully it’s good. And when they experience it over and over again, it becomes predictable. Then it’s ownership. So you go from uncertainty to alignment, to experience to the cult of ownership. And finally, if it’s a positive and predictable experience where customers say, I always enjoy doing business with them, that word always in front of anything good to describe you. That means they’re in the cult of amazement. That’s where you want to be with your customer.

The Secret Diary of a Mystery Shopper: True Customer Service Stories through the eyes of a Secret Shopper: The Good, The Bad and The Exceptional by Claire Boscq-Scott (Episode 111)

Bosq-Scott: This is my new book launched a couple of weeks ago, which has already ranked number one on Amazon, bestseller on customer service. If it doesn’t give it to you in the title, it is all about mystery shopping. How you can uncover hidden secrets within your organization. How you can look at your employee performances and really improve your service, develop some new strategies and increase your customer loyalty.

It is 11 years now I’ve been running my own mystery shopping companies and I’ve been writing all those stories – the good, the bad and the exceptional – yes, because if we talk about exceptional, we will bring more exceptional stories in our book. So this is really a business book. It is for businesses to take it, read it with your team, read the stories, [and] think about how this could affect your business. If you have that kind of experience and look at all the little tips and the consultancies behind every of the stories. I’m sure you’re going to really enjoy reading some of those stories. I’ve had people giving me stories; when you talk about customer service, everybody’s got a story. So I’m looking forward to sharing them with you in The Secret Diary of a Mystery Shopper.

Inside Your Customer’s Imagination: 5 Secrets for Creating Breakthrough Products, Services, and Solutions by Chip Bell (Episode 114)

Bell: Every organization on the planet knows the only way to compete is through new products, services, and solutions. Most organizations turn to their R&D facility or best practices from other organizations or innovation centers. But wise organizations recognize there is genius and insight and ingenuity [in] the imagination of their customers. They look for ways to get the customer to open that door from the inside, allowing them access to collaboration and co-creation with their customer.

But the question becomes, how do you get a customer to want to open that door, to invite you in? I’ve studied the cultures of the most innovative companies in the world and found that characteristic of their cultures are five secrets, secrets that all not only apply to an organizational culture, but also apply to relationships, especially relationships with customers. They include: curiosity, grounding, discovery, trust, and passion.

My new book, Inside Your Customer’s Imagination, provides the tools, techniques [and] perspectives to go inside your customer’s imagination. How do you use these five secrets to get the customer to invite you in? You know, a lot of organizations that you thought invented their own hot products and services came from customers. How about cake pops at Starbucks or splash sticks or the Frisbee or the Egg McMuffin. They didn’t come from corporate. They came from customers. Look for ways to go inside your customer’s imagination.

The Age of Intent: Using Artificial Intelligence to Deliver a Superior Customer Experience by P.V. Kannan (Episode 117)

Kannan: Here’s the question: Are you ready for virtual agents? Every company that is considering virtual agents does so for two reasons: it provides a better customer experience and it saves money. To make the case effectively you must generally prove improvements on both fronts; which you emphasize will depend on what’s going on strategically at your company.

But regardless of which facet of the decision you focus on, you won’t succeed unless you’ve laid the groundwork. As a major telecommunications company discovered, there are four types of questions you should ask to get the groundwork ready. The first one is economic. Where will you save or make money from automating your customer facing processes? The second one is technical. What work will be required to get your technology infrastructure ready to connect to intelligent chat bots? The third one is political. What must you do to win over key executives in the company? And the last one is cultural. What will it take for your company to become comfortable with allowing customers to interact with virtual agents as well as humans?

To get your company ready for virtual agents, you’ll need to face and work through all four of these challenges.

The Visual Sale: How to Use Video to Explode Sales, Drive Marketing, and Grow Your Business in a Virtual World by Marcus Sheridan and Tyler Lessard (Episode 118)

Sheridan: Here’s the thing, my friends: we know at this point, at least certainly most of us, that as organizations and businesses, if we want to be successful in 2021 and beyond, we must show it! We can’t just tell it. We’ve got to show it.

So we’ve got all these companies around the world that are looking to create a culture of video and do video and be more effective with video. And the thing about it is there’s a lot of books out there that talk about how you can be a vlogger, and how you can build your brand with video, but they don’t speak to businesses and organizations. And certainly they don’t come from a perspective of sales first, marketing second. And that’s one of the big points to the book.

We’re going to start with videos that actually get results. The types of videos, starting with sales, like videos that your sales team will truly get excited about integrating into their sales process. And then of course, the marketing videos that are going to get you the most results in terms of traffic, leads, and ultimately sales.

We want to also show you in this work, other companies that have done this incredibly well. So we’re going to share with you multiple B2B and B2C case studies so you can see yourself these businesses realize that no, you’re not the exception that yes, video absolutely does apply to you regardless of what you sell B2B, B2C, service/product, big/small, we’ve all got to get on this train that is video.

And then finally, we’re going to look at how you can create a culture of video in house. And that’s such a big key because it’s one thing to out your video to another organization. It’s an entirely different thing to in- it, to produce your own content because the future of digital is going to be in-house ownership of content. We also have a couple of bonus sections there about how to do more effective virtual events and virtual selling for your sales team, especially in a post-COVID world.

So if you’re looking to do amazing things with video and visual, make sure you check it out.

Travis Irvine