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Book Review: Customer Experience Management

May 25, 2015

  
This book was literally the least expensive Marketing book I ever received. They were giving them away at work. It’s even autographed. At least I think it is, the signature doesn’t look a lot like the name of the author, Bernd H. Schmitt. 

  
I came to the book with pretty low expectations. I mean, if it was free, then all I’m investing is my time, right? 

I certainly got my money’s worth out of the book. It was worth the read. And I’m not just saying that because it was free. 

The author lays out a five part Customer Experience Management (CEM) framework. 

  1. Analyzing the experiential world of the customer
  2. Building the experiential platform
  3. Designing the brand experience
  4. Structuring the customer interface
  5. Engaging in continuous innovation

CEM is more than simply marketing to your perspective customers. Schmitt explains that it’s about adopting a customer experience-focused approach to marketing and management. 

CEM is a new paradigm that represents a radical break from the old marketing and management approaches. It offers analytical and creative insight into the customer’s world, strategic tools for shaping that world, and implementation tools that companies can use to increase customer value.

And, in my mind that was part of the problem. People have been selling stuff to each other since the first monkey climbed out of the trees and set up a roadside banana stand, or since the snake sold Eve on the benefits of forbidden fruit, depending on your particular theology. 

I’m always suspicious when someone designs something radical or new or tries to tell me that everything that’s known about a subject is wrong. At times “Customer Experience Management” comes across just a bit too strong on the radical meter. 

Still, for anyone interested in marketing, it offers a unique perspective on both how to connect with customers and more importantly, the need to connect with customers in a way that is customer-centric.

What I Liked

Schmitt understands the subject intimately. He brings years of real world experience, with concrete examples from some of the biggest companies in business. Whether you completely adopt the CEM framework, his examples of troubled companies and what he did to help turn them around is very valuable. And if you do attempt to adopt the CEM framework and fail to create it completely, you will still understand your customers better and that’s a very good thing. 

Schmitt’s writing style is also very engaging. For the middle portions of the book, where he’s laying out the details of the CEM Framework, his prose flows easily and I enjoyed it very much. 

What I Didn’t

It’s the beginning and the ending where his style becomes grating. Chapter 1 “Taking the Customer Seriously — Finally” not only explains why it’s important to pay attentiont to your customers, it also devotes several pages to “Three Misguided Approaches: The Marketing Concept, Customer Satisfication and CRM.” Schmitt seems to feel the need to destroy any belief in existing marketing frameworks before laying out his unique framework. It comes across like a class on the works of Picasso that spends the first class period explain how terrible Rembrant and Delocroix were. I kept hearing that line from Macbeth, “Methinks the lady doth protest too much.” 

The production value was also disappointing. The book has several photographs to illustrate various advertising and marketing campaigns. The picture quality was terrible. It was especially surprising given the over high production value of the rest of the book. 

  
The photos might be courtesy of JetBlue, but I’m guessing they looked a lot better when JetBlue first provided them. 

As a writer, you never want to remind the reader that they are reading a book. You want to suck them into your narrative and let them forget that it’s just words on a page. Schmitt’s prose was good enough to do that most of the time, but every time he introduced a photgraph, I was startled out of the narrative. Some of these photos were of professional ad materials. But, no one would be tempted to buy Nike shoes, or fly on JetBlue airlines based on these poor quality reproductions. 
What It Means To You

If you are in marketing and constantly attempting to expand your vision, “Customer Experience Management” can certainly give you a fresh perspective on many of the underlying needs that mareketers and advertisers need to address. At 229 pages, it’s not going to be too much of a time commitment. However, if you are looking at how to jump start your company’s marketing efforts, you’d be better served going with an author who doesn’t think that modern marketing is misguided. 

Rating

2 stars out of 5

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday at 7:00 AM Mountain Time. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren. 

Follow him on
Twitter (@rodneymbliss) 
Facebook (www.facebook.com/rbliss) 
LinkedIn (www.LinkedIn.com/in/rbliss)
or email him at rbliss at msn dot com

(c) 2015 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved 

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