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Best Face Forward: Why Companies Must Improve Their Service Interfaces With Customers Hardcover – January 20, 2005

4.7 out of 5 stars 9 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From the Inside Flap

"Rayport and Jaworski’s book is an invaluable guide to understanding the nature of the massive technological transformation underway It provides the tools to navigate the opportunities and avoid the risks."

--Michael E. Porter, Bishop William Lawrence University Professor, Harvard University

"Rayport and Jaworski vividly capture the unfolding dynamic reconfiguration of the service interface between customers and providers. Their book provides executives with valuable and unique guidance in balancing the irreplaceable aspects of human beings and the functionality of emerging technologies."

--Gary W. Loveman, CEO, Harrah’s Entertainment

"Increasing service productivity through front-office reengineering is the challenge of the decade. Rayport and Jaworski's guide to this frontier is precise, pragmatic, and highly readable. Get it before your competitors do."

--Michael Hammer, coauthor of Reengineering the Corporation

"This book is absolutely essential reading. Its ideas are provocative and actionable, deeply thought out and clearly expressed, and as much fun to read as they are important to consider."

--Gerald Zaltman, author, How Customers Think and Joseph C. Wilson Professor of Business Administration, Emeritus, Harvard Business School

"Are you wondering whether information technology matters? Of course IT does. Rayport and Jaworski make the case anew and in spades with their revelations on front-office reengineering and its impacts on service productivity."

--Bob Metcalfe, Ethernet inventor and founder, 3Com Corp.

"Deploying people and new technology in the service of customers without reading this book is like going on a trip to a new destination without a road map."

--James L. Heskett, Baker Foundation Professor, Graduate School of Business Administration, Harvard University

"This book is a milestone and required reading for everyone dealing with the service sector—not only for marketers but, above all, for senior managers of service-driven organizations."

--Peter Lorange, President and Nestlé Professor of Strategy, IMD

"How do you put people and technology together seamlessly to drive down costs and improve the quality of services? Best Face Forward is a guide not only to leading the new service economies to greater productivity and greater growth, but also to seeing what our future will be."

--Peter Schwartz, Cofounder and Chairman, Global Business Network

About the Author

Jeffrey F. Rayport is Chairman and Founder of Marketspace LLC, a subsidiary of Monitor Group. Bernard J. Jaworski is Vice-Chairman of Marketspace LLC and heads its Monitor Executive Development business unit.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 262 pages
  • Publisher: Harvard Business Review Press (January 20, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0875848672
  • ISBN-13: 978-0875848679
  • Product Dimensions: 9.6 x 6.4 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,773,974 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
My MBA son-in-law gave me this book (he'd taken a course with one of the authors) and I couldn't put it down. I'm in what the book would call B-to-B, and the book provided some pleasant surprises. I got the argument right away, and the examples are on target. At the end they give some extremely helpful ways to start attacking the challenge. My business is in the middle of what Rayport and Jaworski talk about and I kept seeing what we're struggling with in their stories. We've got a number of different ways we deal with customers, too: a couple of websites, a sales force, and a call-center. You always want to make how you meet customers as effective as possible, but the book shows that you've not only got to do it at each point, but also across what they call the "interface system." It all sounds right, but I've seen books that say the right things without giving you a way to actually start doing something. The authors here actually go the last mile. The last chapter goes through questions you can ask yourself and your business, and then walks you step-by-step through how you can begin to take up making the system "efficient and effective," as they put it. Having only experienced home shopping on the bill-paying side (!), the extended comparison near the end of the book of how QVC and Home Shopping Network differ in their interface systems really got me thinking. This book actually meets the argument about people being replaced with machines head on in a way folks who are actually in the trenches running a business can understand. Let people do what people do best (isn't that the truth!), and let machines do what they do best. There are even places where putting people and machines together (what they call "hybrids") can work well. I can't recommend this strongly enough (although I'd hate to tell my son-in-law that!).
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Format: Hardcover
"Best Face Forward" looks at how today's technology advances have revolutionized the front office. It argues that savvy companies can outpace the competition by employing the right blend of technology and people to best service customers. The authors convincingly argue that service - be it via a website, a telephone, a TV, a kiosk, or in person -- is the last frontier of sustainable competitive advantage.

The arguments are supported with references to the business literature as well as many original examples. For instance, the authors show how QVC, a company that generates more revenue and earnings per employee than either its chief competitor Home Shopping Network or Wal-Mart, uses people and machines to deliver an intelligent, coordinated, efficient customer service proposition. The authors also examine the damage that can be done when businesses fail to recognize that a customer's experience with a telephone reservation line or website matters as much as the experience they have at a physical location. Anyone who has ended up in "voicemail hell" when trying to call their credit card company will recognize the importance of this message. "Best Face Forward" is a must-read for anyone who wants to overhaul or audit their customer touch-points and replicate the success of the leading companies.

Also, on a side note, this is a refreshing change from most business books. Many offer an exciting if obvious idea that gets you to buy them, only to then leave you flabbergasted at how completely obvious and rudimentary they are inside. Or, they are filled with management science that is totally divorced from any practical advice. "Best Face Forward" offers an exciting new idea, but is also well researched and supported with interesting content, and is highly actionable. As a bonus, it is also fun to read. I greatly enjoyed it.
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Format: Hardcover
When a colleague recommended this book to me, I initially hesitated to read it because I didn't think there could be much new to say on the topic. I was wrong. Not only do the authors give a wealth of really interesting examples, they have some important ideas as well. It's a sign of a thoughtful book when it presents something that you've seen or experienced your whole life and makes you think about it in a different way. Granted, the first few chapters of the book are interesting but not obviously relevant as a how-to guideline (more like reading an article by Malcolm Gladwell, author of Tipping Point, or some other observer of human phenomena). But the later chapters become much more practical. For example, the description of how to identify and then satisfy a customer segment that prefers machine interactions over human interactions was useful for my work. Particularly useful was the section on maintaining brand identity in light of the proliferation of customer technology (or technology "interfaces" as the book would say). In all, I would recommend this (and have recommended it) to anyone who is interested in marketing and customer experience.
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Format: Hardcover
This is a very interesting book. I saw it in the bookstore and the title captured my attention. I am glad I bought it. The examples are fascinating and comprehensive, the amount of facts and information is very good, and the explanation of why it is critical for companies to think about their interface systems is compelling. Best Face Forward not only supports the argument of why creating a differentiated experience for the customers is important, but in the last chapter it provides a good framework to help business managers diagnose and assess the ability of their company's interface system to create competitive advantage. I recommended my friends to read it.
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