In With the Old

In the Customer Success reading list we compiled last year, we focused on more recent customer-centric books that had made a big splash. This year, we want to focus on the oldies, but goodies in the customer-facing space, and look at the established wisdom that still holds true today.

Customer Success is a relatively new business function, but draws from the previous disciplines of sales, marketing, support, and management to cobble together a niche that’s all its own. Now that CSMs are responsible for retaining existing customers by using a holistic view of their customer data to identify the key moments to upsell, cross-sell, and act as a trusted advisor, there’s much that can be gleaned from classic business readings that have guided best practices for the last twenty years.

Delighting customers has been a universal goal from the inception of any enterprise venture, and these five books are staples in any business curriculum.

1. Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose by Tony Hsieh

Tony Hsieh can tell you a thing or two about building a billion dollar business.  He did just that at Zappos, which was acquired by Amazon for $1.2 billion in 2009, after just 10 years in existence!  He took a radically different approach – he didn’t put shareholders first.  He didn’t even put customers first.  Instead, he put employees and company culture at the center of his business philosophy.  He knew that happy employees would lead to happy customers, and happy customers would lead to happier shareholders.

This surprisingly down-to-earth and fast-paced book takes you through his life experiences through multiple businesses, and how he delivered an outstanding customer experience by concentrating on the happiness of those around him.

2. The Thank You Economy by Gary Vaynerchuk

The Internet, where The Thank You Economy was born, has put consumers back in the driver’s seat. With the advent of social media and internet, companies and brands have to compete and communicate in wholly different ways than they’ve ever had to before. Customers’ demands for authenticity, originality, creativity, honesty, and good intent have made it necessary for companies and brands to revert to a level of customer service rarely seen since the days when business owners often knew their customers personally, and gave them individual attention.

The Thank You Economy offers compelling, data-driven evidence that we have entered into an entirely new business era, one in which the companies that see the biggest returns won’t be the ones that can throw the most money at an advertising campaign, but will be those that can prove they care about their customers more than anyone else.

3. How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie

This grandfather of all people-skills books was first published in 1937. How to Win Friends and Influence People is just as useful today as it was when it was first published, because Dale Carnegie had an understanding of human nature that will never be outdated. He teaches these skills through underlying principles of dealing with people so that they feel important and appreciated. He also emphasizes fundamental techniques for handling people without making them feel manipulated. Pretty powerful stuff, in our opinion!

With this book, you will learn:

* Three fundamental techniques in handling people
* The six ways to make people like you
* The twelve ways to win people to you way of thinking
* The nine ways to change people without arousing resentment

4. Be Our Guest: Perfecting the Art of Customer Service by The Disney Institute & Theodore Kinni

Exceeding expectations rather than simply satisfying them is the cornerstone of the Disney approach to customer service. Now, in honor of the tenth anniversary of the original Be Our Guest, Disney Institute, which specializes in helping professionals see new possibilities through concepts not found in the typical workplace, is revealing even more of the business behind the magic of quality service. During the last twenty-five years, thousands of professionals from more than thirty-five countries and more than forty industries have attended business programs at Disney Institute and learned how to adapt the Disney approach for their own organizations; see what you can add from the ever-effective Disney playbook!

5. Customer Satisfaction Is Worthless, Customer Loyalty Is Priceless: How to Make Customers Love You, Keep Them Coming Back and Tell Everyone They Know by Jeffery Gitomer

Gitomer, who conducts more than 150 sales seminars each year, is the author of The Sales Bible (1994) and a weekly column in more than 60 regional business newspapers. The first half of his title makes the unconventional assertion to make a point. Although a customer who is not satisfied is not as likely to return, companies should focus on building repeat business rather than just pleasing customers. The two efforts are obviously not mutually exclusive, but building customer loyalty is a separate and different process. Gitomer uses lists, anecdotes, observations, and aphorisms to demonstrate his point and his sales technique. Like his Sales Bible, this book, too, is laid out in a frenetic style: exclamation points abound and boldfaced, oversize motivational exhortations practically jump from the page.

What do you think of our picks? Are we missing any of your favorites? Comment below and let us know what you think!