Books list

What were the best customer experience and design books in 2021?


Ricardo Saltz Gulko lists the 12 books released this year that all those interested in customer experience management should seek out. 

10th Dec 2021

This list adapted from a piece that originally appeared on the Eglobalis website

These last two years were challenging for all of us around the globe; instead of reading my 70 in “average” books, I read only 39 since I often read in the short and long trips around EMEA and South Korea as part of my working helping the likes of Samsung. Less travelling, less reading!

Nonetheless, here are the best twelve books that I read over the past 12 months and can highly recommend to you - a summary I have have been doing since 2017.  

Important: The order of my list is not related to preference, but in the order I read them (with one exception only). I highly recommend each of them!

1. Experiencing Design: The Innovator’s Journey 

By Jeanne Liedtka, Karen Hold, and Jessica Eldridge. This book is undoubtedly the best guide I have read so far for design thinking, and I am a massive user of DT and Agile together. If you already know DT, you will love their new conceptualisation and ideas. And if you are new to DT, it will drive you as a guide. This book has unique perspectives from this fantastic team of DT leaders in the US. experience design

Background: Drawing on decades of researching and teaching design thinking to people not trained in Design, Jeanne Liedtka, Karen Hold, and Jessica Eldridge offer a guide for how to create these deep experiences at each stage of the design thinking journey, whether for an individual, a team, or an organisation. Each experience phase specifies the mindset shifts and competencies that need to be achieved describes how different personality types experience various journeys, and shows how to leverage the diversity of teams fully. Experiencing Design explores both the science and practicalities of design and includes two assessment instruments for individual and organisational development. Amazon Purchase link.

2. Customer Centricity: Focus on the Right Customers for Strategic Advantage

By Peter Fader, a Professor of Marketing, the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.

Background: A powerful call to action, Customer Centricity, upends some of our most fundamental beliefs about customer service, customer relationship management, and customer lifetime valueFader

Despite what the old adage says, the Customer is not always right. Even companies that can seemingly do no wrong-like the coffeehouse giant Starbucks-have only recently started to figure this out.

Starbucks is one of many companies that has successfully executed a pivot that puts the company in a customer-centric mindset, an approach that Wharton professor Peter Fader describes in Customer Centricity. Fader advocates that there are good customers in the world of customer-centricity, and then there is pretty much everybody else. Amazon Link.

3. Orchestrating Experiences: Collaborative Design for Complexity

By Chris Risdon and Patrick Quattlebaum. Chris leads teams and mentors designers while keeping his hands dirty in the practice which he works in IBM. He design physical and digital services, and specialises in service design, behavioural design, and interaction design, all for increasingly complex service and product platforms. Patrick is also a designer, consultant, and teacher who gets up every morning to bring creativity, rigor, and humanity to problem-solving, and he is the CEO and a designer at Harmonic Design, in Atlanta, GA. orchestration

Book background: Customer experiences are increasingly complicated, with multiple channels, touchpoints, contexts, and moving parts, all delivered by fragmented organizations. How can you bring your ideas to life in the face of such complexity? Orchestrating Experiences is a practical guide for designers and everyone struggling to create products and services in complex environments. Amazon link.

4. I’ll Be Back: How to Get Customers to Come Back Again & Again

By Shep Hyken. Shep needs no introduction, but here it is for whoever doesn’t know him yet. Customer service and CX expert, keynote speaker, and New York Times and Wall Street journal best-selling business author. I've been reading his books since 2005 and he has subsequently become a good friend! Amazon LinkShep

Book Background: In I’ll Be Back you will learn…

  • How to design and create an experience that gets customers to return, again and again.
  • The one trackable trend that leaders must monitor every morning.
  • The difference between repeat customers and loyal customers.
  • How to build the I’ll Be Back culture.
  • How delivering an amazing customer experience is within the reach of every organisation.
  • The two simple words that are the secret to every customer service programme.
  • Why most “loyalty programmes” fail to create customer loyalty.
  • How to personalize the customer experience.
  • Why setting up or expanding self-service and digital customer service choices are is a must, not an option.
  • Ten loyalty killers that can terminate your relationship with your customers.
  • And much more!

This book includes the must-have tools, tactics and strategies you need to get your customers to say, “I’ll be back!” Amazon Link.

5. Measure What Matters

By John Doerr. Investor John Doerr is chairman of Kleiner Perkins, formerly called Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. Growth

You're probably thinking 'what has this book got to do with customer experience?' Read and reflect and find out why this excellent book is on my list, especially now that we are developing the European Customer Experience Organization.

Background: Doerr has introduced OKRs to more than fifty companies, helping tech giants and charities exceed all expectations. In the OKR model, objectives define what we seek to achieve and key results are how those top­ priority goals will be attained. They focus effort, foster coordination and enhance workplace satisfaction. For the first time in Measure What Matters, Doerr shares a broad range of first-person, behind-the-scenes case studies, with narrators including Bono and Bill Gates, to demonstrate the agility and explosive Growth that OKRs have spurred at so many great organizations. Amazon link.

6. Conversational Marketing: How the World’s Fastest Growing Companies Use Chatbots to Generate Leads

By David Cancel and Dave Gerhardt. Cancel is best known for creating hypergrowth products and product teams at Drift, HubSpot, Performable, Ghostery and Compete. He has been featured in The New York Times, Forbes, Fortune, Wired, and Fast Company and has guest lectured on entrepreneurship at Harvard Business School, MIT’s Sloan School of Management, and other universities. He is currently the co-founder and CEO of Drift, the world’s first conversational marketing and sales platform. conversational

Background: Real-time conversations turn leads into customers.

Conversational Marketing is the definitive guide to generating better leads and closing more sales. Traditional sales and marketing methods have failed to keep pace with the way modern, internet-savvy consumers purchase goods and services. Modern messaging apps, which allow for real-time conversations and instant feedback, have transformed how we interact in our personal and professional lives, yet most businesses still rely on 20th century technology to communicate with 21st-century customers. Online forms, email inquiries, and follow-up sales calls don’t provide the immediacy that modern consumers expect. Amazon Link.

7. Onboarding Matters: How Successful Companies Transform New Customers Into Loyal Champions

By Donna Weber, one of the world’s leading experts in customer onboarding. For more than two decades, she’s helped high-growth startups and established enterprises create customers for life. As a recognised thought leader, influencer, strategist, advisor, author, and speaker Donna gets to the heart of customer wuccess. onboarding

Background: Onboarding is the most important part of the customer journey, yet many B2B companies fail to act proactively at the start of the relationship. Instead, customer success teams are stuck making heroic efforts to save accounts and fighting fires when customers inevitably run into problems or get stuck. The reactive approach is a problem for your customer success teams, your revenues, and your customers.

Customer onboarding matters. More than you may think. A successful customer onboarding program results in more satisfied customers and employees, higher solution adoption, and increased customer lifetime value.

In Onboarding Matters, Donna Weber shares the Orchestrated Onboarding™ framework that she implements with leading B2B companies to turn onboarding from a missed opportunity into a competitive advantage. Amazon link.

8. Customer Experience Management Field Manual: The Guide For Building Your Top Performing CX Program

By Jeff Sheehan. The purpose of JEff's work is to help customers lay out their plans to improve their customer’s experience. While CX principles are simple to understand, many organisations struggle to put them into operation. Sheehan

Book Background: This book is designed as a desktop reference guide offering a well-researched and endorsed holistic approach to customer experience management using eight-core CX functions with chapters detailing how to implement each. Notably, CX leaders can adapt the concepts in this book to any size or type of organisation wishing to create or refine its customer experience management program. Amazon link.

9. What Your Customer Want, and Can’t Tell You – Unlocked: Unlocking Consumer Decisions with the Science of Behavioral Economics

By Melina Palmer, CEO and founder of Brainy Business. Here, Melina helps people and businesses understand the psychology of why people buy. Palmer

Background: Behavioural economics is the marketing research future of brands and businesses. This book goes beyond an academic understanding of behavioral economics and into practical applications. Learn how real companies and business professionals can use science to make their companies better. Business owner, consultant, and behavioral economics expert Melina Palmer helps leaders like you use the psychology of the consumer, innovation, and truly impactful branding to achieve real, bottom-line benefits. Amazon Link.

10. The Customer Success Economy: Why Every Aspect of Your Business Model Needs A Paradigm Shift

By Nick Mehta, Allison Pickens and Maria Martinez. Nick Mehta is the CEO of Gainsight and a colossal ambassador to make customer lives better for all subjects related to customer success. There are few people in the globe today in our sector that do not know Nick. paradigm

Background: If leaders aren’t integrating their digital offerings into a customer success philosophy, they will be defeated in the next decade because technical excellence and other traditional competitive advantages are becoming too easy to imitate.

The Customer Success Economy offers examples and specifics of how companies can transform. It addresses the pains of changing organisational charts, leadership roles, responsibilities, and strategies so the whole company works together in total service to the Customer. Amazon link.

11. Vivid Vision: A Remarkable Tool For Aligning Your Business Around a Shared Vision of the Future

By Cameron Herold, the founder of the COO Alliance & Second In Command Podcast (iTunes). He's known around the world as THE CEO Whisperer. vivid

Background: Many corporations have slick, flashy mission statements that ultimately do little to motivate employees and less to impress customers, investors, and partners. But there is a way to share your excitement for the future of your company in a clear, compelling, and powerful way - and entrepreneur and business growth expert Cameron Herold can show you how.Vivid Vision is a revolutionary tool that will help owners, CEOs, and senior managers create inspirational, detailed, and actionable three-year mission statements for their companies. Amazon link.

12. Winning on Purpose: The Unbeatable Strategy of Loving Customers 

By Fred Reichheld, Darci Darnell and Maureen Burns. Frederick F. Reichheld is a New York Times best-selling author, speaker and business strategist best known for his research and writing on the loyalty business model and loyalty marketing. He is the creator of the Net Promoter System of management. Winning

Book Background: Few management ideas have spread so far and wide as the Net Promoter System (NPS). Since its conception almost two decades ago by customer loyalty guru Fred Reichheld, thousands of companies around the world have adopted it - from industrial titans such as Mercedes-Benz and Cummins to tech giants like Apple and Amazon to digital innovators such as Warby Parker and Peloton.

Now, Reichheld has raised the bar yet again. In Winning on Purpose, he demonstrates that the primary purpose of a business should be to enrich the lives of its customers. Why? Because when customers feel this love, they come back for more and bring their friends - generating good profits. This is NPS 3.0 and it puts a new take on the age-old Golden Rule - treat customers the way you would want a loved one treated - at the heart of enduring business success. As the compelling examples in this book illustrate, companies with superior NPS consistently deliver higher returns to shareholders across various industries.

But winning on purpose isn’t easy. Amazon link.

A note about the European Customer Experience Organization (ECXO)

Eglobalis is supporting a new global initiative in Europe, Middle East and Africa, the European Customer Experience Organization. If you're an executive, leader, entrepreneur wanting to know more about customer and employee experience and related subjects, or trying to ignite innovation within your organisation - join the ECXO, an open access community of customer experience pracitioners and thinkers. 

Here is the first video of the European CX Organization:

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