In running a business, it can be important to think like your customers think; if you don’t, you may quickly fall out of favor with them as they move to competitors who understand their needs better. Yet projects such as creating a stellar customer experience, doing the appropriate research to understand customer needs and enhancing customer support and service interactions frequently take a backseat to more immediate issues.
Even if you can’t begin the aforementioned projects just yet, it doesn’t mean you can’t make some steps to getting to know your customer better and and make some day to day improvements in your interactions with them. The following five business books will help you get started. If you’re a business owner who wants to make sure they are in tune with their customers’ evolving needs, you need to read these books!
1. “The Service Culture Handbook: A Step-by-Step Guide to Getting Your Employees Obsessed with Customer Service” by Jeff Toister
Using a step-by-step workflow, Toister’s sage advice will help you build your customer-centric business efficiently and pragmatically.
Written in a conversational tone that is free of jargon, Toister is known throughout the internet (from his training videos on LinkedIn Learning) for his straight-forward attitude toward customer service principles. In this work, he uses real world examples of both excellent customer service and not-so-stellar customer service experiences. He then explains how each experience will impact an organization’s reputation.
2. “The Million Dollar Greeting” by Dan Sachs and Janet Scott
While The Million Dollar Greeting focuses on the hospitality industry, it offers many secrets to creating and developing a workforce who are both inspired and committed to your business — a secret recipe for success within the hospitality industry.
Sachs, a Harvard graduate, serves as president of Meerkat Restaurant Advisory, a restaurant advisory group. He is also a professor of business and entrepreneurship at DePaul University. For 16 years, he owned Bin36 restaurant group, which developed and operated multiple wine-focused restaurants. What makes this book unique is that the authors have intentionally spoken to people who work in both large and small companies across a wide range of businesses. This has allowed them to focus on something rare within the hospitality industry: the businesses that grow for decades, rather than the businesses that are hot for a couple of years and then quickly fall out of vogue.
3. “Outside In: The Power of Putting Customers at the Center of Your Business” by Harley Manning and Kerry Bodine
Outside In, designed for customer service enthusiasts, focuses on how your business can achieve long-term, sustainable success.
Manning and Bodine have fourteen years of research behind them as the customer experience leaders at Forrester Research. This book offers a comprehensive roadmap that explains how businesses can achieve advantages with their customers. The book starts off by explaining the concept of the “Customer Experience Ecosystem proof”. The concept explains how “the roots of customer experience problems lie not just with customer-facing employees like your sales staff, but with behind-the-scenes employees like accountants, lawyers, and programmers, as well as the policies, processes, and technologies that all your employees use every day.”
The book then goes on to explain how first identifying and then solving these problems can and will dramatically increase your firm’s sales. At the same time you will also be decreasing your costs.
4. “The Customer Manifesto” by Pamela Hermann
The Customer Manifesto is an excellent reminder that despite all of the technology developed, businesses must continue to be “people first” to achieve success.
Practically, this book explains how to get your customers to go from one-time customers to repeat customers. When you achieve customer loyalty, you will watch as your business grows and thrives, because your existing customers will bring new customers to you. This book provides many solid recipes for success that can easily be followed by business owners and operators. It also shows that by focusing on customer success for your clients, you bring success to your business.
5. “Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance” by Angela Duckworth
While this isn’t a customer service-specific book like the others, Grit is a fabulous explainer to help you achieve your business goals.
A 2013 MacArthur Fellow and professor of psychology at the University of Pennsylvania Angela Duckworth is the Founder and CEO of Character Lab, a nonprofit whose mission is to advance the science and practice of character development in children. But beyond your childhood years, Duckworth proves scientifically of how perseverance in both the workplace and in life will get you farther than you could have ever dreamed. Some practical advice from this book:
1. Define what success looks like. (e.g. Running a successful pizza restaurant chain.)
2. Clearly state your short, medium and long term goals, while also giving yourself stretch goals. (e.g. Sell 5,000 pizzas in the first quarter and 25,000 by the end of next year.)
3. Put your goals into practice by stepping outside your comfort zone and testing your innovations or products through deliberate practice.
4. Reflect and learn from the obstacles, challenges, failures you face.
5. Never become complacent or satisfied — as there is always room for improvement. This requires you to become almost obsessed with your task at hand.
Want more to read?
Of course, there are tons of additional great books on customer service (and running a successful company) to consider including:
- Would You Do That to Your Mother by Jeanne Bliss
- Customer Winback by Jill Griffin
- The Infinite Game by Simon Sinek
- How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie
- Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion and Purpose by Tony Hsieh
It’s important to remember that while books are a great place to learn new strategies and ideas, it is also important to put these strategies and ideas into practice. So start testing and iterating to determine which strategies works best for your business.