A thoughtful work for corporate leaders that offers an intriguing shift in business philosophy.

EMPATHY IN ACTION

HOW TO DELIVER GREAT CUSTOMER EXPERIENCES AT SCALE

Technology executives call for a new way of doing business that reframes success in terms of providing positive experiences.

In this debut business book, Bates, the chairman and CEO of software company Genesys, and Petouhoff, a senior customer experience strategist and business consultant at the same firm, argue that 21st-century businesses need to undergo a fundamental shift. Instead of focusing solely on the metrics that appeal to investors and analysts, they assert, they should convert to a customer- and employee-centric model of measuring and evaluating performance. The book places its new business framework in the context of the latest technological developments, while positing that only the businesses that create positive customer and employee experiences will be able to take advantage of opportunities for major, exponential growth. Bates and Petouhoff make a case that this focus has a positive impact on the bottom line, although they also note that holistic metrics are necessary to get an accurate understanding of its results. They also explain how to achieve the shift, often using technology that employs artificial intelligence and machine learning to analyze customer interactions on a massive scale. They discuss the importance of building diverse teams and employing processes that incorporate and respond to employees’ feedback. The book cites examples of specific companies, such as mattress firm Casper and coffee giant Starbucks, which have both succeeded in creating customer experiences that go beyond mere transactions with positive financial results.

The book provides a skillfully written call for a reevaluation of the definition of business success. Its frequent acronyms are kept in check by straightforward prose (“It’s impossible to deliver exceptional experiences and build trust, inspire loyalty, or deliver the brand’s promise when relying on ineffective or outdated tools”), making it easy to follow its core arguments. Bates is also a former top executive at Cisco Systems and Skype, and the text is shaped by both authors’ extensive experiences in the tech industry. The book does an excellent job of building on existing management research, which it cites, and reframes it in the context of empathy. Historical asides, such a quick tangent about how the technology behind early telephone exchanges evolved to make customer service hotlines possible, add moments of lighthearted interest while also supporting the book’s thesis. Infographics and callout boxes also make for effective presentation, highlighting key points in multiple formats. The target audience is primarily senior corporate leaders who are in positions to make structural changes, but much of the information will be useful, if not as directly applicable, to those in more junior positions. The book makes brief mention of privacy and data protection issues but generally takes a positive approach to technological developments. Readers may wish for more specific detail about how to ignite an industrywide shift away from short-term cost metrics, but on the whole, it makes a solid argument and helpful advice for placing customers and employees at the core of strategy decisions.

A thoughtful work for corporate leaders that offers an intriguing shift in business philosophy.

Pub Date: March 8, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-64687-043-1

Page Count: 195

Publisher: Ideapress Publishing

Review Posted Online: Jan. 17, 2022

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Striking research showing the immense complexity of ordinary thought and revealing the identities of the gatekeepers in our...

THINKING, FAST AND SLOW

A psychologist and Nobel Prize winner summarizes and synthesizes the recent decades of research on intuition and systematic thinking.

The author of several scholarly texts, Kahneman (Emeritus Psychology and Public Affairs/Princeton Univ.) now offers general readers not just the findings of psychological research but also a better understanding of how research questions arise and how scholars systematically frame and answer them. He begins with the distinction between System 1 and System 2 mental operations, the former referring to quick, automatic thought, the latter to more effortful, overt thinking. We rely heavily, writes, on System 1, resorting to the higher-energy System 2 only when we need or want to. Kahneman continually refers to System 2 as “lazy”: We don’t want to think rigorously about something. The author then explores the nuances of our two-system minds, showing how they perform in various situations. Psychological experiments have repeatedly revealed that our intuitions are generally wrong, that our assessments are based on biases and that our System 1 hates doubt and despises ambiguity. Kahneman largely avoids jargon; when he does use some (“heuristics,” for example), he argues that such terms really ought to join our everyday vocabulary. He reviews many fundamental concepts in psychology and statistics (regression to the mean, the narrative fallacy, the optimistic bias), showing how they relate to his overall concerns about how we think and why we make the decisions that we do. Some of the later chapters (dealing with risk-taking and statistics and probabilities) are denser than others (some readers may resent such demands on System 2!), but the passages that deal with the economic and political implications of the research are gripping.

Striking research showing the immense complexity of ordinary thought and revealing the identities of the gatekeepers in our minds.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-374-27563-1

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Sept. 4, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2011

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Occasionally wonky but overall a good case for how the dismal science can make the world less—well, dismal.

GOOD ECONOMICS FOR HARD TIMES

“Quality of life means more than just consumption”: Two MIT economists urge that a smarter, more politically aware economics be brought to bear on social issues.

It’s no secret, write Banerjee and Duflo (co-authors: Poor Economics: A Radical Rethinking of the Way To Fight Global Poverty, 2011), that “we seem to have fallen on hard times.” Immigration, trade, inequality, and taxation problems present themselves daily, and they seem to be intractable. Economics can be put to use in figuring out these big-issue questions. Data can be adduced, for example, to answer the question of whether immigration tends to suppress wages. The answer: “There is no evidence low-skilled migration to rich countries drives wage and employment down for the natives.” In fact, it opens up opportunities for those natives by freeing them to look for better work. The problem becomes thornier when it comes to the matter of free trade; as the authors observe, “left-behind people live in left-behind places,” which explains why regional poverty descended on Appalachia when so many manufacturing jobs left for China in the age of globalism, leaving behind not just left-behind people but also people ripe for exploitation by nationalist politicians. The authors add, interestingly, that the same thing occurred in parts of Germany, Spain, and Norway that fell victim to the “China shock.” In what they call a “slightly technical aside,” they build a case for addressing trade issues not with trade wars but with consumption taxes: “It makes no sense to ask agricultural workers to lose their jobs just so steelworkers can keep theirs, which is what tariffs accomplish.” Policymakers might want to consider such counsel, especially when it is coupled with the observation that free trade benefits workers in poor countries but punishes workers in rich ones.

Occasionally wonky but overall a good case for how the dismal science can make the world less—well, dismal.

Pub Date: Nov. 12, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-61039-950-0

Page Count: 432

Publisher: PublicAffairs

Review Posted Online: Aug. 29, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2019

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