Authors: Reza Soudagar, Vinay Iyer and Dr. Volker G. Hildebrand

Publisher: McGraw-Hill – 292 pages

Book Review by: Sonu Chandiram

The three authors of this work on developing an edge over other companies in making (or keeping) the customer happy and loyal have several things in common. They all have experience in customer relations management. They are all also familiar with CRM software. And all of them work at or are involved with the company SAP, which is a leader in worldwide financial applications.

These days, for companies of all types and sizes, but particularly for large multinational firms, a significant challenge is growing their revenues and profits in the midst of intense competition.

Since the advent of the Internet with increasing numbers of people online, the customer service role of large firms has been and continues to be outsourced to call centers in countries with large numbers of English-speaking job seekers. This presents both an opportunity (lower costs) and a challenge (availability of call center services to their competitors) to them.

The dilemma for multinational companies in their efforts to make and keep customers happy has brought about these questions: Do we spend more money to provide a superior customer experience, or: Do we spend less to provide just-average customer service, so that our larger bottom lines become more easily achievable?

This is the main issue that the three authors deal with, in this book. Enhancing customer experience has more challenges in store for executives responsible for customer relationship management.

What kind of culture exists, technology that’s available, and values that are prevalent in a company, are but just three factors that determine the level and quality of  service it provides to its customers. There are also other company resources that play roles in this critical need to deliver good service, but these three are major components of potential competitiveness of companies.

“The key is to strike a balance between programs that are effective but prohibitively expensive and programs that fail to dedicate enough resources to be effective,” write the authors as their solution to the dilemma stated above.

The book shows company leaders and other managers how to utilize its resources of  leadership, organizational change, strategy and technology to develop better relationships with customers. Among the imperatives in this effort that the authors say should be implemented are to develop products and services found to be highly valued by their customers; form bonds that keep clients from turning to their competitors; and transform customers into your best advocates.

Through its four parts, this highly insightful book outlines the “battleground” where companies must fight their competitors to win over and retain customers; the strategies and tactics they must employ to grow their base of satisfied customers, along with instructive case studies; the technology that is needed to make this happen; and the 15 “action items” for them to do in order to achieve the all-important customer experience edge over the competition.

Through its nearly 300 pages, this book details what is the “new normal” in today’s customer experience. It discusses what are the four essentials of a profitable customer experience.

It emphasizes that dealing with business-to-business clients requires many of the same positive customer-experience requirements as with consumers. It spells out the similarities and differences in capturing the minds and hearts of B-to-B and B-to-C customers.

Among its strategies to “making it happen,” the authors urge you to discard old rules that no longer work with today’s increased customer demands and expectations in the midst of better offers from competitors. With case studies, the book gives you the ingredients and directions in a “new customer service recipe.”

The book helps you build the technological foundation needed to build your customer experience edge over competing firms. It also leads you to 10 ramps to the “customer-experience freeway.” These means to measure your success in enhancing customer service are also provided to you so that you can make improvements.

And, since developing economies are today growing faster than developed ones – with some holding large potential for growth such as China and India – it makes sense for companies in the developed world in North America and Europe, to learn their culture, mores, traditions and other unique characteristics, to better capture larger portions of those markets. The book shows you how to do this as well.

The authors of this highly valuable book have done a thorough job of proving essential knowledge and their unique collective insight  to assist concerned company executives  develop their resources and sharpen their tools in providing superior service to make and keep their customers happy.