The 10 Most Important Customer Service Books to Kick Start Your Career

best-customer-service-books

Working in support means constantly upping your game. Aside from keeping up with new technologies – which make you revise documentation and saved replies – you’re trying innovate and future-proof your support strategy, and grow your career.

That’s one hell of a juggling act for a support professional! So we’re here to help.

And one of the best ways to learn and level up your support chops is to read.

While there’s a misconception that growing your career in support means developing hard skills (such as learning how to code) there is just as much that can be learned about the nuance of communication and where to be focusing your efforts. All that is captured in these customer service books.

There are so many opportunities to grow your knowledge! Even better: reading can be done anywhere and requires nothing from your but your time and attention.

Luckily, as support grows as an industry, support minded folks are taking to their computers to write books on customer service which serve as guidance and thought-leadership for those building a career within it.

10 of the best career-inspiring customer service books

Here are some of what we believe to be the best books on customer service. We’ve split them into 3 topics for you to satisfy your preferred area of focus.

  • Build a support-driven philosophy
  • Develop a support strategy
  • Develop your support knowledge and career

Books to build a support-driven philosophy

be-our-guest-customer-service-book1. Be Our Guest

When I hear “Disney” I think of people dressed in plush cartoon mouse costumes, not necessarily a stellar support org. Luckily for me, they do have an amazing company commitment to customer service, and have documented it well in Be Our Guest: Perfecting the Art of Customer Service.

Ted Kinni sheds light on strategies that Disney employees in their hotels and theme parks use to delight guests and make customer experiences better.

While outside of the traditional sphere of support, these tactics are definitely applicable to email, phone, and chat support. This will give you a leg-up with preemptively covering customer concerns.

Questions you’ll have answered:

  • What things might not look immediately like support, but still serve to enhance customer experience?
  • What innovative ways can you improve employee experience, and customer experience by proxy?
  • How to reward employees that go above and beyond the call of duty.

customer-obsessed-customer-service-book2. Customer Obsessed

Another book that takes a holistic approach to support, Customer obsessed: A whole company approach to delivering exceptional customer experiences by Eric Berridge.

Eric preaches that the whole company needs to be on board in order for support to be successful.

Not only does it speak to how to do support well, but how to gain a competitive edge to the way you are doing support. Essentially, what are you doing now that you could do differently to be better than the other guy?

Questions you’ll have answered:

  • How often should you be trying out new technology, and do you even need to be?
  • How can you make other teams care about what you are doing?
  • How can you cultivate an open culture within your team?

nordstorm-way-customer-service-book3. The Nordstrom Way

Everyone knows that Nordstrom is the cream of the crop in their industry when it comes to customer satisfaction. Luckily for you, their tactics can be applied across the board, whether you work in retail or not.

In The Nordstrom Way to Customer Service Excellence: The Handbook For Becoming the “Nordstrom” of Your Industry, Robert Spector breaks down all of the ways that Nordstrom sets itself apart, and provides guidance for how to tailor it to your own industry. Follow step-by-step instructions to take your support strategy from “good” to “best.”

Questions you’ll have answered:

  • How do you set your standard of service and regularly exceed them?
  • What are some ways to keep up with great customer support practices in the face of challenges?
  • How do you provide your employees with freedom to do what they think best while still aligning with company goals?

Books to conquer your support strategy

customer-experience-book-3.04. Customer Experience 3.0

John A. Goodman, the author of Customer Experience 3.0: High-Profit Strategies in the Age of Techno Service is credited with developing the first-ever customer satisfaction center, the GE Answer Center.

Along with that, he has driven over 1000 studies and effectiveness in customer support and service. He brings that learning to his reader in Customer Experience 3.0, allowing you to learn from his mistakes without having to go through the pain of them yourself.

Not only does Goodman share his experiences and the stories to go with them, but he also shares the data-driven research behind them.

This is a must-read for anyone looking to learn more about customer experience, no matter what department they are in.

Questions you’ll have answered:

  • What is the best way to collect data to make a case for new features and strategies?
  • How to understand what is effective in driving your support strategy forward towards iteration versus just maintaining a standard level of quality?
  • What mistakes might you been on your way to making and can now avoid instead?

delivering-happiness-customer-service-book5. Delivering Happiness

To have an abundantly successful customer experience and support organization, your whole company needs to be on board. It needs to be built into your culture. Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos talks about that in Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose.

Hsieh takes some of the more radical decisions that he built into Zappos’ culture (such as paying $2000 to new employees that aren’t a great fit and quit, rather than staying on and doing less-than-stellar work) and breaks them down into step-by-step ideas for the reader to follow.

A great read for new managers or founders/CEOs of small companies looking to build out a support strategy.

Questions you’ll have answered:

  • How do you get your entire company on board for valuing your customers?
  • What is the ROI on having a customer-driven company?
  • How can you improve  and maintain the level of happiness of your team members and direct reports?

the-best-service-book6. The Best Service is No Service

Bill Price and David Jaffe have put together a step-by-step guide to self-service support for your company in their book, The Best Service is No Service: How to Liberate Your Customers from Customer Service, Keep Them Happy, and Control Costs.

If you aren’t sure about whether self-service is for you, or where you could be upping your self-service game, this book is the perfect addition to your support library. Learn more about the impact of things like documentation, community support and forums, both on your CSAT and bottom line, and how you can implement on them effectively and efficiently.

Questions you’ll have answered:

  • What self-service opportunities are you missing out on?
  • Why is self-service important for your support organization?
  • What are the benefits of differentiating between paid and free customers?

effortless-experience-customer-service-book7. The Effortless Experience

Surprise and delight are two words that are tossed around all over the support world. It’s our goal to surprise and delight every customer that comes into the inbox, reaches out on Twitter, or chats with us. But how is that scalable or, an even better question, how do you get your team accustomed to that as a driver?

Matthew Dixon breaks that down in The Effortless Experience: Conquering the New Battleground for Customer Loyalty. Take examples of how greats like Apple are using small moments of surprise and delight to amp up their NPS in a huge way, and how you can do it too (without a multi-billion dollar budget).

Questions you’ll have answered:

  • How to create small moments of surprise and delight that have big impacts on customer happiness.
  • How to build and maintain cost-efficient support “level up” moments for your customers, free or otherwise.
  • How to create a swag strategy that is scalable and won’t drown your team in mailing envelopes.

Books to develop yourself

customer-support-handbook8. The Customer Support Handbook

This is one of the original support books that every person first starting out in support should read. Collected by Sarah Hatter, the The Customer Support Handbook: How to Create the Ultimate Customer Experience For Your Brand features essays and articles written by some of the best thinkers in the startup world.

The best feature of this book is that there is no one topic of focus, which makes it a great starter book for anyone looking to learn more about how to do support and why it is important.

Questions you’ll have answered

  • Should you be writing “I’m Sorry” in your support conversations, and how your customers will read it if you do?
  • What is the best way to handle giving refunds (or not giving refunds), and how do you communicate that clearly?
  • What are important things to consider when hiring a support team?

ultimate-customer-support-executive-book9. The Ultimate Customer Support Executive

If everyone is talking about support, why is it still such a black box when it comes to executive meetings? While we, as support professionals, care greatly about the individual moments with our customers, that doesn’t always translate so well to other areas of the company.

In this book, Phillip Verghis talks about the importance of support, and how to convey it in a language that is easy to understand to other executives in your company.

Learn all about how the different areas of the business rely on support, and how you can best use that to leverage your effectiveness within the company.

Questions you’ll have answered

  • What language should you use to speak to support’s successes in executive meetings?
  • What drivers will other parts of the company be looking to in order for you to get buy-in?
  • What metrics are most useful to present on, and what do they mean to the people around you?

thank-you-economoy-customer-service-book10. The Thank You Economy

Gary Vaynerchuk is a marketer who is obsessed with customer satisfaction, and it comes across in his book. The book focusses on time-honored support values: listening to your customer, probing for more information, providing easy to use resources, but approaches them from a different perspective.

Instead of just trying to look for ROI and see what the data-driven value of each individual customer is, Vaynerchuk speaks to “caring” as an economical value that we should all be using and how to build it into your culture.

Questions you’ll have answered:

  • How should you best handle a difficult situation on a public social media platform?
  • How should you scale your response-driven customer support methods?
  • How do you differentiate a one-off support success versus something that can be built into a team culture?

What customer service book will you choose?

While there are so many customer service books out there that are sure to give you additional insights and guidance on the best way to do support, these ones get down to brass tacks when it comes to building and maintaining an organization committed to customer satisfaction.

Each of these books has a different focus and applies to a different area of the business world, but together they create a cohesive picture of an outstanding support strategy and team.

What are some of your favorite books on support, success and experience? Leave a comment below!

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About the author
Mercer Smith-Looper

Mercer is contributing writer at Kayako. She is the support team lead at Trello, a yoga fanatic, and strives to make the world a little bit happier one customer at a time.

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