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Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I am a serial entrepreneur, a University lecturer in Russia, Italy and the USA in Business Economics and International Law and am an international business and peak performance consultant. As such, I have read a plethora of business, motivational, peak performance, coaching, team building psychology type of books over 22 years. In fact I have enough books at home, on these subjects, to sink several ships. I therefore have read many books looking at what makes great business ideas and how to incorporate them into business practice.

This book puts forward a simple premise, focus on the customer experience to gain more and more market share, investment, profits etc. The book takes you through a large amount of research, gathered over 14 years, that shows the businesses that focuses on this key "business driver" can increase sales exponentially. The book offers the reader a complete roadmap to attaining the desired "customer experience" outcomes and understand the complexities of the customer experience.

So that is what the book promises, but is it effective in what it promises? There is no doubt that the book is very well researched and written. The thesis put forward is a very credible and one that I try and indoctrinate into my consulting clients. I always try and make sure every business owner I teach understands the importance of the customer experience. The problem I have experienced in trying to teach this, is that a lot of business owners get the basic idea, but their perception of the experience versus the actual experience, can be very different. This book looks at this key problem and offers practical steps a business owner can take, so as to understand the real customers perception. Only by understanding this perception can a business develop a greater experience for the customer. For me, the book covers virtually every aspect of how to understand and then enhance the customer experience and I can only recommend it, if you too want to put customers first.

This is a very good book, that is well written and should if enacted upon, help any business to enhance the customer experience, in virtually any business. This book puts forward a valid theory and puts forward practical solutions so as to enact what should be a fabulous experience for each and every customer of your business.

Highly Recommended.
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on 9 March 2013
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This book aims from outset to take a 'holisitic' view of the product sale/service provision business process which is on the surface admirable and makes a reasonable enough stab at it.

Like so many 'business guru' tomes these days though, it tries to mix the current liberal capitalist obsession with legitmising its practises by offering a 'scientific' basis for it's method of value creation and personal profit, with more touchy feely almost esoteric observations about meeting customer needs and the ease of enjoyment they have in consuming your product/service. This unfortunately though often sounds a little hollow and more like weekend retreat group think seminar material, than what is actually practical [and practised] in the increasingly fragile world of 21st century western business.

The core tenet of this book is 'put the customer first.' It's as simple as that, and to be honest, like me, you may well quite rightly say 'so what's new?' Are our business models and the managers implimenting them so out of touch with the reality of enterprise now, that they need reminding of this? Perhaps. And perhaps it really is a message that needs hammering home again. This has been made all the more clear in the UK and Europe, where horsemeat has recently been discovered as being used as a beef substitute for years in many processed food products, without of course letting the customer in on this little ruse. And why? So prices can be maintained, profit margins squeezed upwards and shareholders/CEO bonuses kept sweet. The customer came at the bottom of the list of people who needed to be kept well informed and looked after in the process, and this I imagine, is currently happening across the board in our economy.

So books like this ring with a decidedly hollow 'do as I say not as I do' ethos. It's well enough written, accessible, lively in that 'I'm a gold-plated PowerPoint presentation' way, short and to the point and it may serve it's purpose as a pep talk exceedingly well, but relevant and affecting? Perhaps not.
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on 24 November 2013
Useful concepts gleaned already and I'm only a quarter of the way through. As a Dr, I didn't think I was in the customer satisfaction industry, but patient/customer experience is becoming an ever increasingly important viewpoint.
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on 21 November 2013
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
As others have said, a book whose theme is "put the customer first" is never going to win any prizes for revolutionary thinking. Whilst it's easy to criticise the message as trite, businesses do occasionally lose sight of the important things in their rush for innovation and change. I found the book well written and containing decent case studies, even if the content itself is likely to be reminder or common sense for most businesses.
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on 10 March 2016
This book is full of real life examples to support the theory behind customer experience disciplines. No jargon, just practical advice on how the principles can be applied in any organisation.

I'd recommend is book is read by all executive leaders and anyone pulling their hair out at the challenge of improving customer experience :)
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Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Forrester is a customer research organisation which makes headlines every so often when it rates the user experiences for well-known technology companies such as Microsoft and Apple. Behind the scenes its main business is advising companies on how to become customer-centric. This book, Outside in, is the fruit of 14 years of research among global and US businesses. It is highly detailed, very well supported by primary research and by carefully analysed case studies, and offers crucial insights for good brands that intend to become great.

This is by no means a light read, and it's likely to need second translation by business analysts before it can be applied directly to improvements at a particular company. Almost any small or medium business can make use of the overall thrust of the book, but the kind of structured re-alignment programmes which the author recommends will be challenging even for major enterprises to implement.

This is by no means a criticism. If great customer service were easy, everyone would be doing it. As the book points out, even customer service brand leaders, such as Virgin Media, recognise that they are on a journey towards being fully customer-centric rather than actually having arrived.

In a tough economic climate, increased customer focus may seem like an unaffordable luxury. However, as the authors demonstrate very cogently, in a socially connected world, a dissatisfied customer will Tweet in frustration even while a company works as fast as it can to resolve the problem.

It took me a while to get into this book which at first looked strong on the research side but weak on the practical side. As I delved deeper I saw that authors Harley Manning and Kerry Bodine had a great deal of insights to share, and the disciplines of customer focus which they offer are practical and achievable -- albeit requiring a major investment of corporate will.
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on 9 November 2013
Very much common sense, but shows characters are needed with fresh approach to clients in order to transform business. Inspiring & validating, which is always a good sign!
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on 12 November 2012
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
There is some useful stuff in here and thankfully less fluff than the usual business book.

I would have liked more detail on exactly how to do certain things but I did learn some things from this and there are some insights that you can quickly make use of. It is pretty easy to follow and straightforward to read.
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VINE VOICEon 17 April 2013
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I have several years experience of consultancy in Customer Services and improving the 'customer experience'.

I wanted to read this book to see if it could give me a greater insight and to learn from reasearch that could be read in fairly user friendly way. This book has delivered on what I expected. It is not too long - and so may put you off ffrom the start - but is also not a short, 'booklet' in any way. It is well constructed and you work your way through it learning from case studies and experiences.

Customer Service and looking after your customer is a fundamental in helping a customer grow and prosper. What you can gain from this book - and then showing it has facts behind it -could improve your business. That, to me, certainly makes getting this book worthwhile.

Overall, I would recommend this to anyone who deals in the customer services area or is in any position to improve the customer service approach of your company.
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There's "bad news" and there's "good news"

Development of the concept of customer-centrism predates Barbara Bund's business classic, The Outside-In Corporation: How to Build a Customer-Centric Organization for Breakthrough Results (2005). However, it was while reading that book that I gained a deep understanding and appreciation of the power of customer-centrism. Curiously, there are no references to Bund and her work in Outside In, co-authored by Harley Manning and Kerry Bodine. As Bund explains in the Preface, "The primary objective of this book is to help business managers use [her various] insights effectively in practice. It is to share the outside-in discipline -- to provide a road map for managers to follow in creating and leading outside-in corporations, even in organizations where the unfortunate inside-out perspective has prevailed in the past." (page xviii) Whereas Bund invokes the "road map" metaphor, Manning and Bodine focus on what they characterize as "the customer journey," based on experiences that occur on three levels: an experience that meets a customer's given need(s), is easy for the customer to complete, and is en enjoyable experience as well.

The best business books are research-driven and that is certainly true of this one, given the nature and extent of Forrester Research's resources. To their credit, Manning and Bodine also provide a wealth of information, insights, and counsel that are anchored in real-world situations. They insert dozens of micro-case studies throughout the narrative, sharing lessons from a diverse group of companies that include Barclaycard US, BBVA, Boeing, John Deere Financial, Ecosytem Maps, FedEx, Fidelity Charitable, Holiday Inn, Mayo Clinic, Vanguard, and Walgreens. As for what can be learned from large and complicated organizations such as these, the lessons are relevant to any organization, whatever its size and nature may be.

These are among the dozens of passages that caught my eye:

o What Natural Ecosystems Teach Us About Customer experience (pages38-39)
o How to Create a Customer Experience Ecosystem Map, Step by Step (47-49)
o The Six Essential Customer Experience Disciplines (66-69)
o What You Think You Know About Customers Is Probably Wrong (88-89)
o The Role of Cocreation in the [Customer Interaction] Design Process (113-114)
o The Customer Experience Measurement Framework (126-132)
o You Need to Build a Customer-centric Corporate Culture (153-159)
o The Four Adoption Levels of Customer Experience Practices (175-177)
o Why Do Companies Need a Chief Customer Officer? (187-188)
o Customer Experience Innovations Will Provide a Competitive Edge (2314-221)

Manning and Bodine as well as Bund and countless others all agree that establishing and then sustaining strong relationships with customers is more difficult now than ever before because customers have more choices than ever before, are better informed than ever before, and not only expect but indeed [begin italics] demand [end italics] that the selection and purchase experience involve more, much more than a transaction to obtain a product or service. The challenge is not to hire people who "get it" insofar as customer interaction is concerned. The challenge, rather, is to establish and then strengthen a culture (i.e. an organizational ecosystem) that is customer-centric, indeed customer-driven at all levels and in all areas. Hence the importance of the six disciplines that Harley Manning and Kerry Bodine emphasize. Hence the importance, also, of having a framework such as the one they describe within which the disciplines ensure that interactions with customers are based on mutual respect and mutual trust.

I conclude by sharing some "bad news" and some "good news." First the bad news: Customer relationships have never been more vulnerable than they are now. What's the good news? Customer relationships have never been more vulnerable than they are now.
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