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A general book about customer experience hiding in Apple clothing
on April 6, 2012
The interest in 'all things Apple' has never been greater making Apple, its business practices, and lessons learned of intense business and popular interest. Carmine Gallo seeks to serve that interest in this book with a particular focus on Apple's retail and customer experience. At one level, readers will learn from reading the book, but they will have to wade through a range of 'self serving' comments and analysis that fawns over Apple with limited critical analysis. This gives the book a bit of a one sided tone to it and a bias that the reader needs to be aware of.
This book is a good general book about customer experience wrapped in the skin of Apple. Gallo often provides cursory and personal observations about Apple Stores and then bridges to other examples that have been used in other books like Zappos, Ritz Carlton, Four Seasons. That does not make it a bad book, just not as powerful or unique as it could be.
The book is divided into three parts and the following chapters.
Part 1: Inspiring your internal customers
Chapter 1: Dream Bigger - Explains the focus on the best customer experience in the world
Chapter 2: Hire for Smiles - Finding the right type of people, who they are, is more important than what they know
Chapter 3: Cultivate Fearless Employees - Reviews Apple's three step process for hiring people to challenge the status quo and build a great company
Chapter 4: Build Trust - How you create an environment for performance, transparency and learning
Chapter 5: Foster a Feedback Loop - A rehash of Fred Reicheld's net promotor score
Chapter 6: Develop Multitaskers -- looks at people who are able to engage multiple people and treat everyone as an individual.
Chapter 7: Empower Your Employees - Describes how Ritz Carlton and Zappos etc treat their employees, less about Apple
Part 2: Serving your external customers
Chapter 8: Follow Apply's Five Steps of Service - A good review of the APPLE model and why they treat you the way they do.
Chapter 9: Reset Your Customers Internal Clock - the criticality of time in the customer experience and how you can feel better even when it takes longer.
Chapter 10: Sell the Benefit - Its obvious to drive the benefit, but its not obvious in the way you do it.
Chapter 11: Unleash Your Customer's Inner Genius - no one wants to be treated like an idiot, but many companies assume just that.
Chapter 12: Create Wow Moments - A recap about how Apple products are so great
Chapter 13: Rehearse the Script - It takes time and focus to get the message clear, crisp and compelling
Chapter 14: Deliver a Consistent Experience - consistency is the course of the experience
Part 3: Setting the Stage
Chapter 15: Eliminate the Clutter - simplify has been apple's greatest strength and the source of its complexity.
Chapter 16: Pay Attention to Design Details - putting customer experience ahead of cost and delviering what you want beyond what everyone else can get.
Chapter 17: Design Multisensory Experiences - we have five senses, so why to most companies only play to one or maybe two
This is a good book about customer experience. It looks at the customer experience form all of its dimensions and aspects, which is rare.
The book is wholly committed to explaining what is going on at Apple, particularly from the author's perspective and past experience. This often manifests itself at the start of each chapter with obvious examples and stories that we have all either read before or experienced personally.
The author's treatment is comprehensive as the book covers the topics of people, process, technology, facilities, behavior and experience. that is unique when compared to other business books that basically reduce success to a simple and single factor formula.
Gallo's desire to hitch these ideas on the Apple train detract from the strength, salience and actionable nature of the advice and insight he provides. While he may sell more books by piggy backing on the Apple brand, including a stylized version of the Apple Logo, he loses impact of the ideas as companies see them as exclusive to Apple.
Many of the ideas are not new and have been presented elsewhere. People who are studying and concentrating on the customer experience will find little new in the book. However, this is a great book for people who are new to these ideas, particularly when they separate the Apple branding from the ideas.
Gallo misses the core of Apple. Sorry for the pun, but the focus rests largely on the stores which are only a part of the Apple story and experience. There is little attention paid to the products, the supply chain, the development process, the technology itself all of which are foundational to the store experience. The example of AT&T stores is apt in this regard. My experience with AT&T stores shows that while they may have adopted some of Apple's practices, they do not have the product or other essential elements to make it an outstanding experience.
Gallo does not talk with anyone from Apple, so you get no idea about the tensions, tradeoffs, considerations and decisions that brought this to the market. That is a bit surprising given how heavily he tries to associate himself with the company, but its a near association more than demonstrated access to the executives and what they are doing.
Overall, this is a good book for people what want to learn more about the customer experience and see its principles in action in a single and singular company. Readers who separate out bias from the practice will learn from the book.