Punk CX book review Adrian Swinscoe CT

Adrian Swinscoe writes on customer experience and customer service for publications like Forbes and the BBC. Punk CX is his second book covering the topic of CX.

We’ve all read books where the author has hit upon a good business idea and then expanded what should have been a pamphlet into a Tolstoyesque tome.

Punk CX turns that on its head – this is a real and refreshing departure from traditional business books. The central tenet of the book is that Customer Experience has become over-complicated, over-measured and over-technologized. He draws an analogy with the prog rock era of the 1960s and 1970s, where music became very complex and very commercial. The punk movement that followed it was much easier to play, more instinctive and more natural.

Adrian argues that CX has gone very “prog rock” itself, and could benefit from a punk revolution. The book is laid out with lots of bold type, colour, big words, poems, lyrics, drawings and photos, so it’s visually appealing as well as an interesting read.

Today we have a nice coffee and some Hersey’s kisses for company, so let’s get started on the takeaways and quotes…

Punk CX book review Adrian Swinscoe

Punk CX review: Top 5 takeaways

  • The value of getting your hands dirty. Throughout this book, Adrian extols the virtues of getting your hands dirty. Whether it’s through getting customers in to talk to you, walking the factory floor, handling support requests or sitting down with the customer service team to get their input on how to improve things over donuts, he urges us all to understand what’s going on through direct contact rather than just measures and metrics.
  • Transformation is not the goal, evolution is. “Transformation programs” are everywhere and yet Adrian argues they pretty much always fail. We are all trying to be too formulaic about what is essentially a human set of interactions, he says. We need more artistry and less rote.
  • Real service is a calling, a journey and a passion. In order to embrace many of the concepts in Punk CX, genuine, warm, and direct service is going to be required. Adrian is at pains to point out that real service is not about servitude but is deeply rewarding for both parties. As Tom Peters said, service is character, community, commitment (and profit). Service is not subservience and helping employees and teams to understand this will be huge for CX efforts.
  • Put the customer at the center more often. Adrian describes how Amazon leaves an empty chair at its meetings to symbolise the customer. He cites the rise of AI, metrics and data analysis, explaining how it’s been responsible for the creation of customer experience programs that focus on the function of CX and not the actual experience of the real life customer. He repeatedly questions the intersection between the CX department and the customer and urges us to make this as real as possible.
  • A plea for simplicity. Punk CX, at its heart, seems to me to be a plea for simplicity in the CX world. For directness and ease. For the empathy and insight gained from real interactions, not plain data alone. He cites a psychological experiment in which, confronted with 24 jam varieties, only 3% of shopper bought, versus 30% of shoppers who bought with 6 varieties on offer. Choice, he argues, is interesting but confusing. Simplicity of choice, comms and offer are important tools in the CX world.

Punk CX review: Top 5 quotes

  • Adrian quotes Rory Sutherland on the dominance of CX metrics over the actual experience of the customer, saying “unfortunately, it is often better to be measurably mediocre than immeasurably brilliant.”
  • “…on average, organisations are offering their customers a choice of nine different channels… what’s more interesting is that only 8% of organisations have all of their channels connected.”
  • “…many companies suffer from low response rates and undo a lot of their good work through the way they go about their surveys and feedback process.”
  • “Most experience initiatives are dominated by the ‘new’. New technology implementations, new digital initiatives, new revenue models etc. However, these efforts tend to skew the focus of leadership away from some of the more mundane elements of a customer’s experience, many of which are often seen as inconsequential.”
  • “…if you want to hire the sort of people who are going to deliver a stand out experience for your customers, how creative are you being?”

Check out Punk CX, it’s a fun and thoughtful read without being too heavy and has some easily-implementable ideas.

Looking for further reading?

We write a review every month of something new and interesting in the business book world. Here are a few notables to dive into next:

  • We reviewed Adrian’s other book “How to Wow: 68 effortless ways to make every customer experience amazing” here.
  • Rebel Ideas” by Matthew Syed is one of our reads of 2019. Check out our top 5 takeaways and quotes in our review.
  • The subscription economy affects us all, especially in the CX arena. We recently reviewed Tien Tzuo’s excellent book on the subject, “Subscribed“.