10 top books about creating a customer culture that delivers

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Every company wants to make its customers happy but, in reality, few really succeed. The intentions are there, but the execution tends to be average or even poor, and I believe that customer culture lies at the very heart of that conundrum. That’s why I compiled a list of 10 books for you that explain how you can infuse your organization with a customer culture that makes both your employees shine and your customers delighted. Enjoy!

Culture Built My Brand: The Secret to Winning More Customers Through Company Culture, by Mark Miller & Ted Vaughn (2021)

Too many executive leaders settle for inadequate employee performance, mediocre outcomes, and unremarkable earnings. But this doesn’t have to be your organization’s reality. There is a way to break through the inertia to engage your team, drive better results, and attract a tribe of loyal customers―by tapping into the greatest driver of brand success: your internal company culture.

With practical steps and customizable tools, this easy-to-follow guide gives you the know-how you need to tap into your company culture to create an authentic brand that stands out from the competition.

The Cult Of The Customer: Create an Amazing Customer Experience That Turns Satisfied Customers Into Customer Evangelists, by Shep Hyken (2020)

In today’s competitive business climate, you can’t just satisfy your customers. You have to be better than that, giving them experiences that they won’t forget. Author Shep Hyken has spent thirty years studying great companies and the evangelists they create.

In The Cult of the Customer, Hyken shows how to design a strategy that leads both customers and employees through five distinct cultural phases – from “uncertainty” to “amazement.” By presenting dozens of case studies that show how great companies made this journey, Hyken identifies the critical internal and external changes that allowed them to build a Cult of the Customer – and shows how you can do it too.

Hyken’s message is both powerful and timely: the happier your customers and employees are, the more successful your company will be. The Cult of the Customer is a guide to creating a customer-focused culture that turns satisfied customers into customer evangelists.

The Customer Leader, by Rudy Moenaert and Henry Robben (2023)

The Customer Leader is my favourite book of Rudy and Henry. They did a fantastic job in creating a practical framework based on their in-depth academic knowledge. It is a book that helps every leader to make a self assessment to better understand how customer centric they really are.

The Customer Leader is an action-packed, no-nonsense page-­turner. It helps you to define value, analyze the arena you are competing in, develop a winning value proposition, and build a customer-driven organization.

The Customer Leader is about leadership, customers, and creating great business. It addresses the most important question every business leader faces today: What kind of leadership do we need to lead our company and its stakeholders to a better place?

A diamond in the rough: Over a 100 specific tips to build a strong customer culture, by Steven Van Belleghem (2023)

Allow me to add my own brand-new and very hands-on book, full of insights and actionable tips about the importance of company culture for shaping great customer experiences.

I believe there is a big paradox in the world of customer experience today: every company has the wonderful intention of making their customers happy but in reality the quality of execution is often average to low. In fact, in many cases, the best intentions don’t progress beyond the PowerPoint presentation.

Over the past twelve years, I have spoken extensively with thousands of CX professionals and my conclusion is that most companies are a ‘diamond in the rough’ in terms of customer experience: they want it so bad, but they often don’t succeed. In this brand-new book, I explain how to transform that diamond in the rough into a shiny diamond. This is a story about infusing your organization with real Customer Culture, where both the leaders and employees of an organization are constantly aware of their role towards the customer. This narrative will help you understand why teams don’t act upon your request to become more customer centric; it will make you see how small changes make a huge difference and it will give you the right tools to install a customer culture throughout your organization.

Courageous Cultures: How to Build Teams of Micro-Innovators, Problem Solvers, and Customer Advocates, by Karin Hurt & David Dye (2022)

From executives complaining that their teams don’t contribute ideas to employees giving up because their input isn’t valued–company culture is the culprit. Courageous Cultures provides a road map to build a high-performance, high-engagement culture around sharing ideas, solving problems, and rewarding contributions from all levels.

Many leaders are convinced they have an open environment that encourages employees to speak up and are shocked when they learn that employees are holding back. Employees have ideas and want to be heard. Leadership wants to hear them.

Too often, however, employees and leaders both feel that no one cares about making things better. The disconnect typically only widens over time, with both sides becoming more firmly entrenched in their viewpoints. Becoming a courageous culture means building teams of microinnovators, problem solvers, and customer advocates working together. A courageous culture ensures that your company is “sticky” for both customers and employees.

Bet on Talent: How to Create a Remarkable Culture That Wins the Hearts of Customers, by Dee Ann Turner & Patrick Lencioni (2019)

When it comes to running a business, the most important decisions a leader makes are not about products or locations–they’re about people. For the past 33 years, Dee Ann Turner has been recruiting, training, and retaining some of the best employees in the restaurant business. Now she’s ready to share her secrets on how to build, sustain, and grow an organizational culture that attracts world-class talent and consistently delights customers, no matter what your industry.

In Bet on Talent, Turner shows you how to create a remarkable company culture, select, sustain, and steward talent, nurture internal relationships, create company loyalty that leads to customer loyalty, instill the practice of servant leadership within your organization, treat everyone with honor, dignity, and respect and much more.

The Nordstrom Way to Customer Experience Excellence: Creating a Values-Driven Service Culture, by Robert Spector & breAnne O. Reeves (2017)

This management classic explores the core values of the culture that have made Nordstrom synonymous with legendary customer service. These essential values have enabled Nordstrom to survive and adapt to dramatic market shifts regularly since 1901, and this new edition explains how its approach can be emulated by any organization, in any industry. This is not a book about selling shoes or clothes or cosmetics or jewelry. It is a book about how underlying values such as respect, trust, compensation and, even fun, are the building blocks of a culture where employees are empowered to consistently deliver a world-class experience to customers.

Nordstrom believes that the employee experience determines the customer experience, and that when you attract and reward people who are comfortable in a service-oriented culture, then everyone succeeds―both individually and collectively. No wonder Nordstrom is one of only five companies to make Fortune’s “Best Companies to Work For” and “Most Admired” lists every year since those surveys have been taken.

With new interviews from senior Nordstrom executives and family members, the book explains how to successfully respond to today’s tech-savvy, time-crunched customers who demand a convenient, seamless, painless, personal experience across all channels. The authors show what it takes to earn brand loyalty, lead through change and uncertainty, and combine extraordinary brick-and-mortar with online experiences.

The Service Culture Handbook: A Step-by-Step Guide to Getting Your Employees Obsessed with Customer Service, by Jeff Toister (2017)

The Service Culture Handbook is a step-by-step guide to help you develop a customer-focused culture in your company, department, or location. Whether you’re just beginning your journey, or have been working on culture for years, this handbook will prepare you to take the next step. You’ll receive actionable advice, straightforward exercises, and proven tools you can utilize immediately.

Learn the one thing that forms the foundation of every great culture. Discover what customer-focused companies do differently to engage their employees. And explore ways to strategically align every facet of your organization with outstanding service. Creating and sustaining a customer-focused culture is a never-ending journey that takes hard work, dedication, and commitment. The Service Culture Handbook can help you and your employees stay headed in the right direction.

Ignore Your Customers (and They’ll Go Away): The Simple Playbook for Delivering the Ultimate Customer Service Experience, by Micah Solomon (2020)

This book gives a step-by-step plan to craft a customer service culture and customer experience so powerful that they’ll transform your organization and boost your company’s bottom line. You’ll enjoy inspirational and hilarious tales from the trenches as author Micah Solomon brings you with him on hands-on adventures assessing and transforming customer service in a variety of industries.

Drawing on a wealth of stories assembled from today’s most innovative and successful companies including Amazon, USAA, The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company, Nordstrom, MOD Pizza, and more, Solomon reveals what it takes to turn an average customer interaction into one that drives customer engagement and lifelong loyalty.

Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose Hardcover, by Tony Hsieh (2012)

Though this book may be a little older, I still wanted to include it, as it’s an absolute classic bestseller about how corporate culture can lead to unprecedented success. In this book, the late Tony Hsieh shares the different business lessons he learned in life, from a lemonade stand and pizza business through LinkExchange, Zappos, and more.

Ultimately, he shows how using happiness as a framework can produce profits, passion, and purpose both in business and in life. From paying new employees $2000 to quit, to making customer service the entire company, not just a department, and focusing on company culture as the #1 priority, Hsieh explains the standard operating procedure at Zappos.com, the online retailer that was doing over $1 billion in gross merchandise sales every year before it was acquired by Amazon.

What are your favorite companies with fantastic customer-driven cultures? Let me know in the comments of my socials!

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Steven Van Belleghem
Steven Van Belleghem is inspirator at B-Conversational. He is an inspirator, a coach and gives strategic advice to help companies better understand the world of conversations, social media and digital marketing. In 2010, he published his first book The Conversation Manager, which became a management literature bestseller and was awarded with the Marketing Literature Prize. In 2012, The Conversation Company was published. Steven is also part time Marketing Professor at the Vlerick Management School. He is a former managing partner of the innovative research agency InSites Consulting.

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