Book Mini-Review: "Customer Experience: What, How, And Why Now"

Over the weekend, I read the manuscript for Don Peppers' upcoming book, Customer Experience: What, How, and Why Now.

Because Don is a talented writer, and because I love customer experience, it wasn’t hard for me to start reading it. It was, however, hard to stop reading it. If you’re also into customer experience, you’ll no doubt have a similar reaction when it comes out.

What I like most about the book is that Peppers consistently grounds customer experience in business fundamentals. For example, he points out that the decision to focus on customer experience should never be binary: You don’t have to be customer-centric or product-centric, nor does spending to deliver a better CX mean wasting money. The reality is that focusing on customer experience can lead to new and better products and help create an even more profitable business — provided that you understand it.

Of course, learning to understand the practical aspects of customer experience can be hard work — much like attending a particularly tough business class. But that’s not the case here. Peppers makes the nuts and bolts of customer experience engaging and even visceral. To see what I mean, check out two of my favorite quotes from the book:

  • "If you think about it, a customer is really just a bundle of future cash flows, with a memory. And these future cash flows will increase or decrease based on how the customer remembers being treated, today."
  • “Customers don’t necessarily stay because they’re satisfied, but they often leave because they’re not.”

I wrote “amen” next to that second quote — I can’t begin to tell you how often that issue comes up in Forrester's research. Frankly, it explains a lot about both the airline industry and the cable industry. (We recently built some models which prove that.) My point being: If your industry faces disruption from new types of competitors, you ignore these principles at your peril.

In addition to being a fun and memorable read at the strategic level, the book is full of practical advice and tips, which it delivers without sounding preachy or academic. Peppers is fond of bulleted lists that sum up his main points, checklists of things your company should do, and figures that let you see his concepts at a glance. I expect that a lot of his figures and checklists will end up posted on office walls. 

When Customer Experience: What, How, and Why Now comes out later this year, you should give it a try — and then feel free to let me know what you thought of it.