Three of the Greatest Books for Customer Experience (That Aren’t about Customer Experience)

May 28, 2015
Three books jut out a bookshelf

Dennis Snow and Jeanne Bliss have always been the customer experience (CX) authorities in my mind. Dennis’s Lessons from the Mouse and Jeanne’s Chief Customer Officer were two of the first books I read that described what the practice of customer experience looked like in the halls of Fortune 500 companies like Lands End and Microsoft, as well as on Main Street at Walt Disney World. Years ago when I first flipped through the pages of those books, I realized that I was a budding CX practitioner, even though my private sector titles were more akin to business development, client relations, and service quality.

Today, as one of the first executives in the federal government responsible for building an agency-wide CX program alongside the agency’s C-level executives, I still refer to those first great reads. But, next to Dennis’s and Jeanne’s books on my bookshelf, there are three other resources that have been just as helpful. What some may find peculiar, though, is that these other books aren’t about CX! Here they are:

  • How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie
    I first read this book while in graduate school. The book is several decades old, but its lessons are timeless. Here’s why. When you’re a new executive in a new role introducing new concepts from a new management discipline, you’ll have to influence and gain the confidence of many people. There are many ways to influence others, and one has to be familiar with multiple ways of doing so in order to build a CX program. This book tells you how to do that while minding your manners. A definite soft skills staple on my bookshelf.
  • Fierce Conversations by Susan Scott
    A colleague during my Ernst & Young days 12 years ago turned me onto this book. Building a culture of customer-centricity happens one conversation at a time. These conversations require different approaches and reality checks along the way. You have to know how to be courageous, ask honest questions, be truthful in dialogue with colleagues, and mindful of word choices. The book leaves no room for debate about that necessity. Flipping through the pages feels like getting a pep talk from your favorite high school sports coach.
  • Lean Analytics by Alistair Croll and Ben Yoskovitz
    I first heard about this book during a lunchtime Tweetchat with Twitter’s #CXO crowd a few years ago. The book is written for start-up companies, but its lessons are superb for building start-up programs in any established organization. My biggest take-away was the counsel behind choosing “the one metric that matters.” When you’re new in the customer chief role, the first order of business is to build metrics, measurements and monitoring protocols for determining customer success. What should those metrics be? How do you choose? When you’re in the lead, choosing well can be overwhelming. There are no cookie cutter approaches! The book coaches readers on where to concentrate their efforts, or find a good starting point.
  • These resources may not be about CX, but they have certainly provided direction and validation for building Ex-Im Bank’s CX program, as well as programs in my past private sector roles. All are easy reads, and are usually available at the library or for download. Feel free to comment below about your most helpful reads.