Essential Reading List for Customer Service Tips
In the age of social media and digital marketing, customer service has evolved far beyond a Better Business Bureau rating and testimonials upon request. The modern customer demands quick, easy, and flexible service, anywhere, at any time.
In response, businesses need highly adaptive and responsive customer service teams who are equipped with the latest trends and strategies to continually provide service excellence in this fast-changing landscape.
Here are five excellent books on customer service with tips and advice on how to build a solid customer service platform.
1. Your Customer is the Star: How to Make Millennials, Boomers, and Everyone Else Love Your Business
Author: Micah Solomon
Key focus: How to chart the choppy waters of a changing market and deliver an excellent experience to any demographic
Customer demographics are shifting as Millennials take the stage, while a good mix of Baby Boomers and Generations Y and Z are also on the scene. Your Customer is the Star gives practical advice on how to deliver an excellent customer service experience across all generations.
According to Solomon, the days of scripted service, employee uniforms, long lines and longer wait times are over. Millennials are less interested in traditional concepts of ‘luxury’ and prefer to spend their time (and money) on experiences. He argues that “old-fashioned customer service, fully retooled for today’s breakneck pace and digitally connected reality, is what you need to build the kind of loyal customer base that allows you to survive and thrive.”
Solomon is a regular contributor to Forbes.com and Inc.com and is considered a leading authority on customer service, customer trends, company culture, and the customer experience. Using real life examples and data, Solomon’s candid writing style makes it easy to connect with and apply his practical advice.
2. The Nordstrom Way to Customer Experience Excellence: Creating a Values-Driven Service Culture
Author: Robert Spector and BreAnne O. Reeves
Key focus: How to build a corporate culture where teams are empowered to deliver top-of-class customer service
While Nordstrom’s presence in Canada is still relatively new, the brand was founded nearly 120 years ago in Seattle and has managed to evolve as the gold standard in customer service. Spector and Reeves suggest that the values and principles underlying Nordstrom’s success can be applied in any industry.
By giving its frontline people all of the digital tools necessary to satisfy the customer, the brand is able to deliver “a convenient, seamless, painless, personal experience across all channels.” The Nordstrom philosophy contends that “the employee experience determines the customer experience” and a “service-oriented culture” is critical for a company’s success.
The authors have put together insights and tips on how to model your business after Nordstrom, including values that define a customer-driven culture and service tips for providing an excellent customer experience across all channels.
Author: Jay Baer
Key focus: Learn how to unleash the power of a negative complaint to your benefit
As the not-so-old adage goes, haters gonna hate. Baer argues, however, that understanding exactly who your haters are and what motivates them is key to turning bad experiences into good outcomes. “Haters are not your problem… Ignoring them is,” Baer explains.
After conducting an extensive study of how, where, and why we complain, Baer suggests there are two types of complainers: 1) Offstage haters who complain via legacy channels like phone or email with a view to getting a response; and 2) Onstage haters who turn to indirect venues such as social media or online review sites to air their grievances to an audience who will “share their righteous indignation.”
Hug Your Haters provides practical advice and tips, including a handy “Hatrix,” which summarizes situation-specific formulas, as well as plenty of humourous case studies and examples.
Author: Gary Vaynerchuk
Key focus: The importance of 1:1 communication extends to customer service too
At the root of The Thank You Economy is the way the Internet has changed how we communicate, the way we buy and sell, and how consumers interact on- and offline. A tremendous power shift has given consumers a voice and brands need to respond on an entirely different level, says Vaynerchuk.
Customer demands for authenticity, originality, and good intent are driving companies towards “a level of customer service rarely seen since our great-grandparents’ day, when business owners often knew their customers personally, and gave them individual attention.”
Using real-world examples of companies that are profiting by putting Thank You Economy principles into practice, Vaynerchuk reveals how companies big and small can scale personal, one-on-one attention to their entire customer base, no matter how large, using the same social media platforms that carry consumer word of mouth.
5. The Service Culture Handbook: A Step-by-Step Guide to Getting Your Employees Obsessed with Customer Service
Author: Jeff Toister
Key focus: Good customer service doesn’t start with a policy — it starts with your business’ everyday culture
According to Toister, an amazing service culture starts with an obsession with customer service. The Service Culture Handbook is a step-by-step guide that helps develop a customer-focused culture and illustrates how to strategically align every facet of your organization with outstanding service.
In this book, Toister explains how an effective service-oriented culture extends from leadership to frontline staff and permeates every aspect of the business so that your teams can encourage each other, proactively solve problems, and constantly look for ways to go the extra mile.
Customer service is still essentially about creating a human connection. Values such as good communication and empathy remain key, but processes need to keep up with shifting dynamics. The expert advice offered in these books can help guide customer service strategies in today’s ultra-connected digital world.