This book has a dull cover and lacks any colour graphics within its pages. So, if you spot it, you might not be enthused. However, persistence is rewarded, as there is much customer experience and customer insight leaders can learn from this book.
Written by a couple of leaders at Forrester Research, it provides the reader with an overview of everything to consider in order to improve customer experiences. As anyone who has worked in this area will know, that’s a tall order.
Peppers & Rodgers “Managing Customer Relationships” is usefully comprehensive but at 481 pages, it’s not a quick read. So, to provide this overview in only 224 pages is an achievement for Harley Manning and Kerry Bodine.
A book of useful frameworks
As I worked my way through this book, two things became the major benefits. The first is a set of frameworks to act as guides or checklists for action needed in different areas. First up is their definition of a Customer Experience Ecosystem Map, a useful term for ensuring you consider not just processes but also people, perspectives, culture, etc.
Another is the structure of identifying six essential customer experience disciplines each with their own required practices (strategy, customer understanding, design, measurement, governance and culture). This risks “motherhood and apple pie”, but provides some sensible customer insight advice especially on measurement.
A book of case studies
The other major benefit of this book is a large number of case-studies contained within it, as examples of frameworks being put into practice. Given my background and clients within the Insurance industry, it was good to see 5 of these alongside the many other sectors covered.
Their analysis of the threats to Allstate in the US and opportunities for Progressive is interesting and backed up by Customer Experience Index scores to date. Aviva’s focus on mapping customer journeys in China is also interesting, with the chance in emerging markets to start with customer experience strategy at an earlier stage.
Outside In leadership roles
Given I will be speaking at a conference in London soon, on the role of Customer Insight leaders in more senior positions than ever before, their chapter on ‘The Rise of the Chief Customer Officer‘ is also interesting.
Their research in the US echoes my own experience in the UK, that CCOs (or CKOs – as I am more interested in customer insight leaders) are disproportionately common within Financial Services firms. Their findings of a bias toward COOs for B2B businesses also makes commercial sense.
Does that help you look Outside In?
I hope that review was useful, I share such a book because I believe the only point of generating customer insights is to act on them. This can sometimes be to deliver shorter-term commercial returns, but longer-term the real prize is for customer insight to be guiding the transformative work outlined in this book. Delivering and then sustaining significantly improved customer experiences,
This book is a relatively easy read, although at times resembling someone who talks too quickly at you. The volume of human interest stories included really helps, as does the use of short chapters. Bite-sized chunks for reading each day is one way to look at them. I hope you find it useful.
To help you get started, here are some free chapters to download:
Please do share your experience if you’ve read this work or alternatives.