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What Customer Service Devotees Should Read This Summer

Posted on  12 July 10  by 

Comment (1)

I’m heading off on vacation shortly, and from the recent conversations I’ve had with members it sounds like I’m not alone in getting geared up for a summer getaway.  While I’m definitely taking a break from work (and away from my iPhone), I’m also planning on a lot of quality reading time on the beach. 

So, what’s in my beach bag?  I thought I’d share what I’m currently reading that’s related to customer service (some more directly than others, but all fuel my thinking in the space). 

Some are the same that you’ll see on a salesperson’s or communication leader’s summer reading list, some are unique to customer service:

1.    Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion: This widely known book by Robert B. Cialdini discusses how individuals make decisions and prioritize the information they are given.  The idea is: if you know how other people make decisions (and especially their assumptions), you can in fact greatly influence their decision making.  Cialdini presents six methods of persuasion that have wide-ranging applicability in the business world.  In fact, leading service organizations have started to use this concept to actively guide customers to mutually beneficial solutions, even if they can’t give customers exactly what they want.

 CCC Members: Our recent research on Engineering the Low-Effort Customer Experience explores this concept in more detail.

 2.     Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose: The lone autobiographical book here, this one has been on my ‘to read’ list since before it came out in June.  And who wouldn’t want to learn Tony Hsieh’s approach to customer service that is doing over $1 billion in gross merchandise sales every year and was acquired by Amazon in a deal valued at over $1.2 billion?  His view may not be for everyone (pay new employees $2000 to quit?), but it’s definitely a fresh perspective.

3.     The Best Service is No Service: While a couple of years old, the title of this book doesn’t fail to grab your attention.  Predicated on the belief that customers are calling the service organization because they have a problem, it focuses on ways to eliminate the problem itself (and thus the contact).  In fact, many of the principles the authors Bill Price and David Jaffe espouse to deliver the best service, including : eliminate dumb contacts, create engaging self-service, be proactive, and  listen and act are (in my mind) also ways to reduce customer effort

4.     12 Things Good Bosses Believe: Okay, so Robert Sutton’s blog series isn’t a book – and it’s not solely for customer service leaders – but I can’t stop reading this one.  Sutton has been researching what separates good bosses from the rest of the pack, and his advice is applicable for the frontline supervisor up to the CEO.  He’s currently on about item five of his dozen tips, starting with “I have a flawed and incomplete understanding on what it feels like to work for me.”  It’s got me seeing people management in a new light.

CCC Members: See ways to improve employee engagement and be labeled a good boss by your employees. 

5.     The Customer Is not Always Right: Hilarious and Horrific Tales of Customers Gone Wrong: And because it is the summer after all, this humorous book from A.J. Adams sounds like a fun read.  It’s a collection of stories from the Web site: From customers complaining about cable malfunctions (turns out a tornado passing through) to the customer who wants to know how much a four dollar car wash costs, these anecdotes are just the thing for some light beach reading.

So those are my top five – can you tell me what I’m missing?  I still have a few more days to pack, what else should be on my summer reading list?

Comments from the Network (1)

  1. Lauren Pragoff
    on July 13, 2010

    Since reading the book review in the Washington Post (, I’ve been meaning to read “Your Call is (Not That) Important to Us” by Emily Yellin. If nothing else, it seems to offer some insight on how the common consumer perceives the customer service industry, which–even if the customer isn’t ALWAYS right–perspective is always good information to know!

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