100 practical ways to improve customer experience CX review book

Usually Customer Experience business books come out of the experience of a single person, and often also a single company, which has had a reputation for generating good CX results.

This month, we’ve been reading a book on Customer Experience that turned out to be a little different (in a good way) from what we were expecting.

We picked up a copy of the very recently-published 100 Practical Ways to Improve Customer Experience: Achieve end-to-end customer engagement in a multi-channel world by Martin Newman with Malcolm McDonald.

“100 ways” (as we’ll call it for shorthand in this review!), is interesting because it’s written by a combination of a business school professor and an e-commerce and consultancy founder.

This book is much more like a conversation, where Newman (the consultant) lays out his advice, case studies and experiences, and McDonald (the professor) comments on these and brings his business school experience to bear. I assumed at the start that this would make it a little drier to read but it really doesn’t. It’s full of anecdotes and examples which keeps it easy to read, and it’s a lot richer in terms of models and frameworks you can apply. The double inputs from Newman & McDonald provide a useful frame of reference.

This is definitely a pick and mix kind of a book, you can’t take all 100 things and do them all in one go, but as a bookshelf asset to browse for models to help you solve certain challenges, I’d definitely recommend giving it a go.

Since it’s a pick and mix kind of book, I’ve got my all time BEST pick ‘n’ mix candy to accompany us on our ‘100 ways’ journey today:

100 Practical Ways to Improve Customer Experience CX Book Review

100 Practical Ways to Improve Customer Experience: Top 5 takeaways

  • Build teams and processes that help customers do jobs, rather than just on classical lines. The two authors of ‘100 ways’ have a very retail-focused background and so use examples from that world. It’s especially interesting to see how the most performant companies have shaped their teams to help customers do a job they want to do (get to the website, get onboarded with the site, pick a product, get a product delivered). I think many of us still have classic “marketing” and “customer services” silos in our businesses, and are modernising these, rather than seeking to split people into teams solely focused on helping customers get the job they want done, done. Really interesting food for thought. I understand that the book “Competing Against Luck” goes into a lot more detail on this point – that it’s less about understanding customers, and more about understanding the jobs they want to do.
  • Digital transformation and digital upskilling has wider ramifications than you think. This is the bedrock of being able to even attempt the point above, really. Many companies see digital transformation as a technological change. The thought process in companies so often being, ‘customers are using technology more, so we need more technology and we’ll have a team that does that digital stuff ultimately.’ But Newman makes the point that the best companies grow digital skills way beyond the “digital team”. That in true digital transformation, everyone embraces, uses and drives forward digital innovation. He posits some useful frameworks and growth strategies for increasing your workforce’s digital skillset.
  • Leverage disruptive thinking to drive innovation. If you rest on your laurels, if you don’t disrupt your own market, someone else will do it for you. Newman dislikes the term “disruptive” but stresses that the sentiment of being prepared to question and innovate around your own market is critical to long term success. Striking that right balance of keeping what got you big in the first place at your core, and being prepared to rip up your own rule book in the pursuit of innovation has always struck me as incredibly challenging. The two key guidelines suggested here by Newman are not taking things for granted in your business, and – critically – only seeking to disrupt to improve.
  • Remove all points of friction in your customer journey. Many of us have heard it suggested that we should seek to remove points of friction – areas where customers find things annoying or hard – in our customer journeys. Amazon is a past master at this, with its Prime service and one-click ordering it has dominated global commerce by being obsessed about removal of any friction. How many of us actually do it to our own businesses, I found myself pondering. Do you ever mystery shop your own stuff? Or pay a consultant to? At Customer Thermometer (while there is always more we can do), we ask all new team members to find us online, sign up for a paid account and get it working with their Outlook or a Helpdesk system. We ask them to write down everything they might find awkward, annoying or challenging along the way.
  • Want to get a grip on the big changes happening in ALL of our markets right now? There are sweeping changes happening in the way customers think, act and buy. These include social responsibility, ‘Everything As A Service’, inauthenticity, experiential design, social media, real-time customer service demands, AI and many more. Newman & McDonald have straightforward and enjoyable chapters on all of these, suggesting how they may impact your business and offering up frameworks, worksheets and case studies that will help you to understand and tackle them.

100 Practical Ways to Improve Customer Experience: Top 5 quotes

  • “A great brand is not just a logo; it is a way of life, a way of doing business.”
  • “…all of the employees have an understanding that the customer is paying their monthly wage…You must ensure that every colleague has visibility of what the customer is saying about the business.”
  • “Culture eats strategy for breakfast – never forget that. Make sure yours is relevant. This is the heartbeat of your business… If your colleagues don’t like the culture then your customers most certainly will not.”
  • “Many existing CEOs across consumer-facing verticals progressed to the top job at a time when their business held the balance of power, rather than the customer.”
  • “Some of the world’s greatest companies… work with their customers to uncover previously unknown needs. Be careful not to fall into the trap of believing that your customers alone will have all the answers for you.”

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