Must-read customer experience books for 2023
It’s that time again – we’ve published our 2023 reading round-up for CX professionals looking to update their knowledge and prime their thinking for the year ahead.
This year it’s all about fortifying human connections with your customers. As uncertainty and economic fluctuations create cautious consumers, it’s crucial to make your brand a familiar and trustworthy constant by creating consistent, positive customer experiences.
Forging an authentic bond with customers helps promote trust and loyalty towards your brand, helping you get the edge in your market and out maneuver the competition. That’s all the more important when budgets are tight and businesses are looking to streamline their expenses.
In this post, we’ve created a preview of some of the titles in our 10-book list, which you can download now. Browse the full list and take inspiration from the leading names in consumer psychology, business, marketing and experience design.
Not the bookworm type? No problem, we’ve got options for you. You can find these titles in a range of formats, including paperback, eBook and audiobook, at major online retailers and audio platforms.
2023 CX reading list preview
1. Think Again: The Power of Knowing What You Don’t Know
By Adam Grant
It’s a New York Times number 1 bestseller with rave reviews from Dare To Lead author Brené Brown, but that’s not the only reason this title deserves a look. At the heart of this book is the idea of rethinking what we think we know, and going against the comfortable certainty of our preconceived beliefs.
The skill of ‘unlearning’ may be one of the most important – and overlooked – professional and personal tools for our times. Organizational psychologist Adam Grant walks us through the how, why and what of learning to unlearn, reframing challenge and even conflict as fertile ground for new knowledge and stronger relationships at work.
2. Empathy in Action: How to Deliver Great Customer Experiences At Scale
By Tony Bates and Dr. Natalie Petouhoff
For authors Tony Bates and Dr. Natalie Petouhoff, technology and empathy aren’t opposing forces, but a dream team for scaling up relationships between businesses, customers and employees. They break down the ways in which technology can be used to enhance human connection instead of attempting to replace it with unconvincing automatic interactions.
Bates, a leading tech CEO, and Petouhoff, a researcher and CX expert, put forward a framework of listening, understanding, predicting and action that promises to accelerate businesses into a new mindset of customer and employee respect. They draw a clear line between business-centric technologies, which fail to emulate genuine connection, and customer-employee-centric models that scale up the authentic human experience.
3. A Complaint Is A Gift: How To Learn From Critical Feedback And Recover Customer Loyalty
By Janelle Barlow
Now in its third edition, this powerhouse of a title dives deep into the value of feedback – specifically, negative feedback received by businesses. Sweeping aside the instinct to defend or minimize customer criticism, Janelle Barlow reframes complaints as a form of freely-given market research and a point of connection with unhappy customers. Handled correctly, resolved customer issues can mark the turning point towards future loyalty.
Substantially rewritten for the current business climate, this latest edition reflects the heightened demands of customers and the predominantly online environment in which they consider, buy, review and indeed, complain to businesses.
4. Uncopyable: How To Create An Unfair Advantage Over Your Competition
By Steve Miller
Price, service, product… all these differentiators are destined to eventually be one-upped by the competition, according to Steve Miller. He believes that the key to enduring customer loyalty is to set aside the keeping-up mentality, take the focus off your competitors and concentrate instead on creating a unique relationship. Just as humans form unique bonds with one another, so brands can form what Miller calls ‘Uncopyable Attachments’ with their customers.
How is it done? You’ll have to read the book to find out all the interesting details, but the headlines are that a unique blend of brand, experience, innovation and storytelling lie at the heart of the uncopyable customer experience. ‘Competition breeds conformity’, he says, urging us to step away from watching what everyone else is doing and create something that’s entirely new and unique.
5. Do B2B Better: Drive Growth Through Game-Changing Customer Experience
By Jim Tincher
Customer experience thinking often seems to revolve around the consumer perspective. Jim Tincher’s book shifts the emphasis to the B2B landscape, where customers are fellow businesses. Here, relationships are more complex and the standard of CX tends to lag behind that of the B2C world, meaning there’s plenty of opportunity to make changes that have a big impact on your B2B customers.
Tincher’s book is built around the CX Loyalty Flywheel, a model for B2B CX management that moves businesses from a standing start to a state of continuous improvement, with senior buy-in and ROI helping drive things forward. He developed the model based on his own years of experience and research interviews with hundreds of CX professionals.
More titles from last year’s list
Looking for more inspiration? Last year’s reading list was focused on thriving in uncertainty, with insights to help you create meaningful moments, no matter what’s happening outside your business.
1. The Disruption Mindset
By Charlene Li
What if disruption wasn’t the cause of growth, but the result? If growth creates disruption, what does that mean for CX? Charlene Li argues persuasively for a fresh perspective on disruption, showing how it goes beyond just innovation. Instead, she provides a roadmap to help you take the power of disruption forward into the future of your business. She describes three crucial phases – strategy to help you meet the needs of your future customers, leadership that creates direction and movement towards sustainable transformation, and a culture that not only survives but thrives on change and disruption.
2. Customer Experience Management: How to Design, Integrate, Measure and Lead
By Nihat Tavsan
Nihat Tavsan’s comprehensive work leaves no stone unturned when it comes to CX practice and theory. Doubling as both an academic resource and a handbook for the busy professional, it offers a global view on everything CX, starting from first principles. And while it’s broad in scope, it’s not short on practical and relatable details, providing takeaways, case studies and action points you can use to make immediate, valuable changes in your organization. What’s more, the author offers more than just a one-size-fits-all approach, building in flexibility to help you adapt the tools provided to suit your unique business goals.
3. Outside In: The Power of Putting Customers at the Center of Your Business
By Kerry Bodine and Harley Manning
Based on 14 years of Forrester research, Kerry Bodine and Harley Manning’s book is rightly considered a classic resource. It provides a foundational approach to customer experience based on core values developed through hundreds of moments of expert analysis and experience. Introducing the idea of a ‘Customer Experience Ecosystem’, the authors show how every interaction is linked to a bigger CX picture, and how you can turn this knowledge to your advantage using their complete roadmap for CX success.
4. The Power of Moments
By Chip Heath and Dan Heath
Not only a source of valuable insights about business, Chip and Dan Heath’s compelling work is full of truths about human nature and above all the power of experience. Through vivid storytelling, the best-selling authors illustrate the qualities that make certain experiences unforgettable, and offer guidance on how to harness the experiential qualities of elevation, insight, pride and connection in your life and work. Blending business know-how, research-backed knowledge and a personable style, this is a must-read whether for work or pleasure.
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