Customer-service reading list

22.06.2009 | Author: Eric Reiss
After my talk on e-service, many folks have asked me to recommend books written by those "middle-aged guys in white shirts." Well here they are.
E-service: 24 ways to keep your customers - when the competition is just a click away
Ron Zemke, Tom Connellan
(Amacom, 2000)
Zemke has written 27 books on service management since the mid-80s, so it was only a question of time before he got around to the web. Apparently, he has conducted extensive usability testing in which he examined e-mail response time, shipping time, quality of product packaging, on-line help by actually having professional testers order products from Amazon and other on-line companies. Good stuff on hockey-stick satisfaction. Interesting reading for 35 year old managers who were too young to experience the service revolution in the 80s.
E-service: eat or be eaten – speed, technology & price build around service
John Tschohl
(Bestsellers, 2001)
Another of the off-line gurus makes his mark. For the most part, Tschohl applies typical off-line techniques to improving help desks and other semi-on-line activities. Not a bad book, but not as great as it could be. I really got the impression that he simply doesn’t understand either the UX or usability communities.
WAYMISH: why are you making it so hard for me to give you my money?
Ray Considine and Ted Cohn
(Waymish Publishing Co. (Pasadena, CA), 1996)
Considine was one of the great pundits of the service world and a personal friend. Alas, he died on Thanksgiving Day back in 2006. In WAYMISH, he describes a litany of service-related crimes caused by uninformed, inflexible, or just plain stupid service providers. A must read for all middle managers, and very useful for the UX crowd, too. I think a newer edition is available. how to create a profitable business strategy for the internet and beyond
Patricia B. Seybold, with Ronni T. Marshak
(Times Business, 1998)
This high-powered CEO of the Patricia Seybold Group was one of the early proponents of business-process integration and has consulted extensively for Fortune 500 companies. Her observations are sharp, her sources are impeccable. Don't let the 1998 publication date put you off - rarely have the ground rules for e-commerce been explained so clearly. There is also some food for thought from a UX/customer service perspective, although this isn’t the main thrust of the book.
Service America: doing business in the new economy
Karl Albrecht and Ron Zemke
(Dow Jones Irwin, 1985)
This was about the first “new economy” not the digital revolution. I mention the book here because there’s some good SAS / British Airways stuff, plus Don Porter’s stats on customer surveys at Heathrow. Time Manager International and Scandinavian Service Management are also mentioned.
Dazzle Me! – how to deliver uncommonly good customer service every time
Editors at Dartnell
(Dartnell, 1997)
A little too much hype for my taste, but a typical book for the off-line crowd. Actually, if you can get beyond the noise, there is a lot of good advice. However, it will be up to you, the UX professionals to apply this knowledge in a meaningful manner when designing on-line ventures.
Improving Customer Satisfaction, Loyalty, and Profit
Michael Johnson, Anders Gustafsson
(Jossey-Bass, 2000)
Very solid old-school style textbook from the University of Michigan Business School. Good stuff on customer satisfaction surveys and defining usable metrics.
Talk to the hand: the utter bloody rudeness of the world today, or six good reasons to stay home and bolt the door
Lynne Truss
(Gotham, 2005)
Not exactly a service book, but brilliant nonetheless. Ms. Truss knows exactly what ticks people off – and that’s exactly the kind of stuff we want to avoid when designing an on-line experience.
Why we buy: the science of shopping
Paco Underhill
(Simon & Schuster, 1999) 
The most authoritative book on shopping ever written. I’ve learned bunches from Paco.