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

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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exceptional experiences and build trust, inspire loyalty, or deliver the brand’s promise when relying on ineffective or outdated tools”), making it easy to follow its core arguments.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...

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. 3, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2011

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These are not hard and fast rules, but Meyer delivers important reading for those engaged in international business.

A helpful guide to working effectively with people from other cultures.

“The sad truth is that the vast majority of managers who conduct business internationally have little understanding about how culture is impacting their work,” writes Meyer, a professor at INSEAD, an international business school. Yet they face a wider array of work styles than ever before in dealing with clients, suppliers and colleagues from around the world. When is it best to speak or stay quiet? What is the role of the leader in the room? When working with foreign business people, failing to take cultural differences into account can lead to frustration, misunderstanding or worse. Based on research and her experiences teaching cross-cultural behaviors to executive students, the author examines a handful of key areas. Among others, they include communicating (Anglo-Saxons are explicit; Asians communicate implicitly, requiring listeners to read between the lines), developing a sense of trust (Brazilians do it over long lunches), and decision-making (Germans rely on consensus, Americans on one decider). In each area, the author provides a “culture map scale” that positions behaviors in more than 20 countries along a continuum, allowing readers to anticipate the preferences of individuals from a particular country: Do they like direct or indirect negative feedback? Are they rigid or flexible regarding deadlines? Do they favor verbal or written commitments? And so on. Meyer discusses managers who have faced perplexing situations, such as knowledgeable team members who fail to speak up in meetings or Indians who offer a puzzling half-shake, half-nod of the head. Cultural differences—not personality quirks—are the motivating factors behind many behavioral styles. Depending on our cultures, we understand the world in a particular way, find certain arguments persuasive or lacking merit, and consider some ways of making decisions or measuring time natural and others quite strange.

These are not hard and fast rules, but Meyer delivers important reading for those engaged in international business.

Pub Date: May 27, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-61039-250-1

Page Count: 288

Publisher: PublicAffairs

Review Posted Online: April 15, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2014

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