Kirkus Review: A Thoughtful Work for Corporate Leaders


Technology executives call for a new way of doing business that reframes success in terms of providing positive experiences.

In this debut business book, Bates, the chairman and CEO of software company Genesys, and Petouhoff, a senior customer experience strategist and business consultant at the same firm, argue that 21st-century businesses need to undergo a fundamental shift. Instead of focusing solely on the metrics that appeal to investors and analysts, they assert, they should convert to a customer- and employee-centric model of measuring and evaluating performance. The book places its new business framework in the context of the latest technological developments, while positing that only the businesses that create positive customer and employee experiences will be able to take advantage of opportunities for major, exponential growth. Bates and Petouhoff make a case that this focus has a positive impact on the bottom line, although they also note that holistic metrics are necessary to get an accurate understanding of its results. They also explain how to achieve the shift, often using technology that employs artificial intelligence and machine learning to analyze customer interactions on a massive scale. They discuss the importance of building diverse teams and employing processes that incorporate and respond to employees’ feedback. The book cites examples of specific companies, such as mattress firm Casper and coffee giant Starbucks, which have both succeeded in creating customer experiences that go beyond mere transactions with positive financial results.

The book provides a skillfully written call for a reevaluation of the definition of business success. Its frequent acronyms are kept in check by straightforward prose (“It’s impossible to deliver exceptional experiences and build trust, inspire loyalty, or deliver the brand’s promise when relying on ineffective or outdated tools”), making it easy to follow its core arguments. Bates is also a former top executive at Cisco Systems and Skype, and the text is shaped by both authors’ extensive experiences in the tech industry. The book does an excellent job of building on existing management research, which it cites, and reframes it in the context of empathy. Historical asides, such a quick tangent about how the technology behind early telephone exchanges evolved to make customer service hotlines possible, add moments of lighthearted interest while also supporting the book’s thesis. Infographics and callout boxes also make for effective presentation, highlighting key points in multiple formats. The target audience is primarily senior corporate leaders who are in positions to make structural changes, but much of the information will be useful, if not as directly applicable, to those in more junior positions. The book makes brief mention of privacy and data protection issues but generally takes a positive approach to technological developments. Readers may wish for more specific detail about how to ignite an industrywide shift away from short-term cost metrics, but on the whole, it makes a solid argument and helpful advice for placing customers and employees at the core of strategy decisions.

A thoughtful work for corporate leaders that offers an intriguing shift in business philosophy.



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