It’s an open secret that colleagues Bill Price (US) and David Jaffe (Aus) have been preparing “book 2”. Over the last 6 months Bill has presented some aspects of the work in progress under a working title of “Back to the Customer Future” based on extensive interviews and research in several countries.

Last week at the Planning Forum event Bill and I shared a conversation with the audience about the heart of book 2, and the linkages to book 1 – The Best Service Is No Service.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe Best Service Is No Service was launched in April 2008 and, with thanks to Alan Mitchell, was covered that week by the FT; subsequently by most of the serious papers, industry and trade press.

In New Orleans in March at LimeBridge’s 20th global gathering, we discussed the relationship between the hypotheses for book 2 which David and Bill have developed. Subsequently Stephan Pucker proposed an excellent explanation, bringing together the principles and drivers in the 2 books. Book 1 being about what to do and book 2 being about the experiences created.

Book 1, The Best Service Is No Service, has 7 principles – in fact activities that one undertakes. Understand demand, eliminate dumb contacts, engaging self service, be proactive, make it easy to contact, listen and act, own the actions across the company and thereby deliver great experiences

Book 1 stays at the level of principles, showing just one or two hints of the dashboards, processes and tools we use to implement the “ecosystem” which underpins the Amazon growth model. It doesn’t go into the detail of implementation, but is rich in examples and cases to illustrate each principle, giving good and bad examples. At its core is the reduction of unnecessary customer effort and the growth and cost advantages this provides.

Book 2 comes in from a different angle. What are the drivers and experiences which customers and colleagues want to have if they are to feel that service & sales experience was brilliant? It is developing the theme in the last chapter of book 1. And it does this by explaining the feelings that lead to customer happiness. And indeed to colleague happiness. In fact any kind of relationship.

At the conference we explored these 7 drivers, first by giving typical examples and then by asking the audience to test the 7 drivers against their home relationships, their work relationships and lastly their customer relationships. The top level of these 7 drivers is shown below. There’s a more detailed mind map which my colleague Ian Morton developed available on request.

What was interesting was that people could apply each principle to each situation rapidly and there weren’t any gaps identified (and if you spot any do get in touch!). What people liked most was the simplicity – it was instantly possible to understand whether or not the experience existed.

What is less simple is what to do about it if it isn’t. In practice leading back to establishing the right ecosystem through the work in The Best Service Is No Service with systematic listening and cross functional action.

So why the working title of “Back to the Customer Future”?

Everyone can quote examples of corner shops with excellent sales and service experience. The issue is scaling that experience as companies grow. Ever since Taylor wrote about the industrialisation of work at the turn of the last century, braking down work into functions has been the norm. In fact it was a product of its time, when the north eastern states were massive importers of people, who didn’t yet speak good English and therefore industrialisation or de-humanising work was appropriate. Unfortunately it has spread and stuck ever since. What legendary businesses do is recreate that corner shop feeling at scale by joining up their sensing, listening, understanding and action into an active ecosystem that whilst complex in itself, simplifies what people concentrate on at work and simplifies what customers experience.

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