12 Books To Read If You Want To Understand Customers Better

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If you’re looking to expand your customer experience knowledge, learn new ideas, or see things from a new perspective, I’ve put together a list of must-read books for 2011 below. The list is peppered with favourites, books I’ve been meaning to read, and a few intriguing books that will be coming out later this year. I’ve also included a short description from the book’s Amazon product page.1. Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose by Tony Hsieh

In his first book, the Zappos CEO shares the different lessons he has learned in business and life, from starting a worm farm to running a pizza business; through LinkExchange (acquired by Microsoft for $265 million), Zappos, and more. Simply great read.

2. The Starbucks Experience: 5 Principles for Turning Ordinary Into Extraordinary by Joseph Michelli
The genius of Starbucks success lies in its ability to create personalised customer experiences, stimulate business growth, generate profits, energize employees, and secure customer loyalty-all at the same time. I’ve written before about the performance ups and downs Starbucks has earned by wisely (or not so wisely) defining and managing its customer experience. Great to see a new take on what’s working there.

3. What’s the Secret: To Providing a World-Class Customer Experience by John R. DiJulius

Get an inside look at the world-class customer service strategies at some of today’s best companies. You’ll learn how companies like Disney, Nordstrom, and The Ritz-Carlton get 50,000 employees to deliver world-class customer service on a consistent basis- and how your company can too. Focuses on the service elements of customer experience but I found it easy to read between the lines to see the operational decisions that were made throughout these organisations.

4. Loyalty Myths by Timothy L. Keiningham, Terry G. Vavra, Lerzan Aksoy, and Henri Wallard

Here the authors have assembled 53 of the most common beliefs about customer loyalty – all of them wrong or misconceived! Each of the beliefs in this book is debunked with real-world examples. While other books speak in platitudes; this book is the only one to validate each proposition with real data. As customer experience most often gets attached to satisfaction and loyalty (a limited but nonetheless important connection), this is a good compendium of lessons.

5. The Amazement Revolution: Seven Customer Service Strategies to Create an Amazing Customer (and Employee) Experience by Shep Hyken

Customer service isn’t a department–it’s a philosophy that includes every person and aspect of the best and brightest companies. In a tough, competitive, and price-sensitive economy, customer service is one of the most essential tools to separate your business from the competition. I’ve enjoyed following Shep and bet you will too.

6. Bold: How to Be Brave in Business and Win by Shaun Smith and Andy Milligan

In every industry, some brands stand out from the crowd because of their distinct way of doing things. These companies challenge conventional wisdom and industry norms to win in their markets. They see their customers and employees as members of a like-minded community, and deliver unique and remarkable customer experiences.

7. The Thank You Economy by Gary Vaynerchuk

This book is about something big, something greater than any single revolutionary platform. It isn’t some abstract concept or wacky business strategy—it’s real, and every one of us is doing business in it every day, whether we choose to recognise it or not. It’s the way we communicate, the way we buy and sell, the way businesses and consumers interact online and offline.

8. We: How to Increase Performance and Profits through Full Engagement by Rudy Karsan and Kevin Kruse

What if every single employee-every single one-worked in their dream job, utilized their best talents, worked with an inspirational leader and was fully engaged in their role? We sketches the landscape of today’s changing job environment and gives managers and individual employees alike a road map to full engagement.

9. Harvard Business Review on Increasing Customer Loyalty by Harvard Business Review

How do you keep your customers coming back-and get them to bring others? If you need the best practices and ideas for making your customers loyal and profitable–but don’t have time to find them–this book is for you. Here are nine inspiring and useful perspectives, all in one place.

10. Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us by Daniel H. Pink

Forget everything you thought you knew about how to motivate people–at work, at school, at home. Daniel Pink says it’s all wrong. As he explains, the secret to high performance and satisfaction in today’s world is the deeply human need to direct our own lives, to learn and create new things, and to do better by ourselves and our world.

11. I Love You More Than My Dog: Five Decisions That Drive Extreme Customer Loyalty in Good Times and Bad by Jeanne Bliss

What makes the difference between having customers who like you and customers who love you? Lots of businesses are respected, but only an elite few have passionate, loyal, vocal fans. The kind of customers who not only come back time and time again, but rave to friends, family, and even strangers. The kind who can drive explosive growth via e-mail, blogs, Facebook and Twitter.

12. Trust Agents: Using the Web to Build Influence, Improve Reputation, and Earn Trust by Chris Brogan and Julien Smith

Today’s online influencers are Web natives who trade in trust, reputation, and relationships, using social media to accrue the influence that builds up or brings down businesses online. In Trust Agents, two social media veterans show you how to tap into the power of social networks to build your brand’s influence, reputation, and, of course, profits.

That’s my list, what are the customer experience books you’re looking forward to reading in 2011?

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