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Users, Not Customers: Who Really Determines the Success of Your Business Hardcover – October 27, 2011
The Amazon Book Review
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Shapiro's ideas are smart and perceptive, and his approach to strategy pleasingly concrete; he urges business owners to create a digital experience that's in service of customers, not trying to trick them. A much-needed, incisive guide to creating a genuinely appealing digital presence. -Publisher's Weekly
“A much-needed, incisive guide to creating a genuinely appealing digital presence.”
“Users, Not Customers is so interesting and important... Mr. Shapiro has produced something of real value for marketers.”
“Users Not Customers is a must read for anyone seeking to integrate digital experiences with their products and services. Shapiro presents a wonderful novel perspective on the evolving role of digital in business as a tool for interacting with the world.”
—Ramon Casadesus-Masanell, Professor of Business Administration, Harvard Business School
From the Inside Flap
- They focus on their users' true needs: Mint.com made the easiest and most effective interface for controlling your personal finances, and once there, you can follow ads that let you improve your financial performance even more.
- They make their technology disposable: Netflix took down Blockbuster by treating its subscribers as users, not customers. It continually changed and improved its technology to create the best possible experience instead of maximizing rental fees and late fees.
- They market themselves in a way that truly inspires their users. Pepsi redirected its Super Bowl advertising budget to the "Pepsi Refresh Project," a nonprofit, grant-giving program that generated massive free publicity and goodwill.
Top customer reviews
I remember when Windows first came out and so many said it would never be allowed in their enterprise. It was wasteful with resources and the features weren't needed. The same people were saying that Local Area Networks were not needed as long as a floppy was available and a printer was close by. Then the internet came onto the scene and others like them could not see the value of email, or see what could justify the cost of getting good bandwidth (ISDN at the time) into their offices. Smartphone's were similarly dismissed as a young adult toy. I actually had a highly respected peer tell me after I purchased one of the very first Androids that the Google Android was a fluke and would die out soon. Now Android has taken over smartphone sales.
The sad thing about all of this is that many good people saw their careers fade into obscurity when they missed a technology curve. The pundits against windows were technologically obsolete when windows 3.1 came out and everyone adopted windows. A vast sea of top notch PC vendors who specialized in local support were relegated to commodity level vendors when Local Area Network houses started moving in and taking the high spot for local office technology support. Most of the executives that dismissed email and the Internet were no longer leading anything just a few years later. And smartphones, well that story tells itself. If you don't have one your not connected and everyone who has one knows it (including your peers and business partners).
"Users not Customers" by Aaron Shapiro quickly lays out the reasons for adoption of new technology in a way that bypasses the "technology" part altogether. All the pundits to technology I wrote about above were making evaluations based on what they perceived to be the usefulness of a technology. They all missed the fact that each technological step was an advance in user experience quality.
Aaron uses this foundation to lay out a road map that we all need to see and share. The best companies will fail if they fail to make "users" out of their customers. Aaron calls it "being in their inbox". Their inbox being the places they go to the most in the course of their lives, places like facebook, google, email, and text messaging are all examples of inboxes. They are the places people frequent when they need to find something or want to see what is going on around them.
But its not enough to just be there. You have to provide a useful, convenient, and fun experience for your now "Users", a portion of which become and stay "Customers".
We are now fully immersed in digital communication. And everyone from your customers to your stakeholders and your employees need to be seen as users. If you don't understand that when you are done reading "Users not Customers", read it again. Read it until you get it. Its that important.
I can't recommend this book highly enough if you rely upon marketing to reach your customers. The message is important and valuable to all regardless of size or type of business. In my case it brought together things I have learned and or observed over the years into a single analysis and projection. I have purchased copies for many of my peers and customers. I sincerely hope they read it. I would hate to see any of them fade into obsolescence or obscurity because they missed this curve.
Business cases mentioned are very generic and speculative, particularly about what caused companies to either fail or succeed.
And then, ironically, after all the preaching about user experience, a quantitative analysis ...