What Customers Crave

How to Create Relevant and Memorable Experiences at Every Touchpoint

 What Customers Crave

Author: Nicholas J. Webb
Pub Date: October 2016
Print Edition: $25.00
Print ISBN: 9780814437810
Page Count: 256
Format: Hardback
e-Book ISBN: 9780814437827

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Chapter One The Advent of “Exceptional” Customer Service

Let’s face it; today most customer experience programs are a disaster.

Don’t blame yourself; it’s not your fault that these programs are failing you. Most organizations were sold the promise that if they used the right software, analytic tools, and processes they would be able to manage their customer relationships and deliver what their customers wanted— every time.

This approach sort of worked for a while. We understood our customers through segmentation and what the customer WAS—white, black, male, female, affluent, 30s, 50s—thinking demography was the key. We believed the Voice of the Customer (VoC) was the answer; that Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tools and Net Promoter Scores (NPS) were critical for success.

The problem today is this approach is almost always wrong. Yes, wrong. We cannot continue to apply old-fashioned models in today’s hyper-linked and hyper-aggressive environment. In fact, even when an organization has built out a reasonably good strategy, they virtually always fail in execution. According to some excellent research conducted for Oracle, 93 percent of executives say that improving the customer experience is one of their organization’s top three priorities in the next two years, and 91 percent wish to be considered a customer experience leader in their industry. However, many organizations are stuck in an execution chasm: 37 percent are just getting started with a formal customer experience initiative, and only 20 percent consider the state of their customer experience initiative to be advanced.

A New Beginning: The Fall of the Customer Service‒Industrial Complex

The term “military-industrial complex” came into common usage when President Eisenhower used it in his 1961 farewell address to the nation. Eisenhower used the term to warn the country of the dangerous relationship among the government, the military, and the arms industry; I have adapted it to the customer service–industrial complex—to warn business people of the dangers inherent in the continued use of the canned “customer service” programs still in use today.

For nearly half a century, from the 50s up into the 90s, customer service was easy. Its approach was authoritarian and it did not directly connect with the consumer. Large organizations simply had control of the media through advertising and publicity and used one-way (simplex) communication to drive consumers to a specific service or product. In this way, they simply told consumers what their experience with a product or service was going to be like.

A great example is Uber, the alternative-to-cab car service. In the past, passengers had no control over what they would find when they got into a taxi. Sometimes passengers had good experiences, sometimes terrible ones. They felt they had little recourse but to accept what they got. Then Uber came along with its instant rating system; riders could know exactly what other passengers thought of and had experienced with a particular driver. By the same token, the drivers could rate the passengers. In this way, both passenger and driver can simply choose to not take a cab driven by or pick up someone with a reputation for obnoxious behavior.

However, in the customer service–industrial complex environment, the consumer was practically blind to their choices. Their social connections were limited (when compared to today), so they had no real way of determining the quality or value of a product or service. They simply got what was dealt them by companies with few or no other options. Purveyors of electronics, hotels, airlines, packaged consumer goods, and others were all experienced bullies, and there was nothing the consumer could do about it. This continued for decades . . . until the internet.

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