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Book Review – Chocolates on the pillow aren’t enough


Chocolates on the Pillow Aren’t Enough: Reinventing The Customer Experience

I have just finished Jonathan Tisch’s book Chocolates on the Pillow Aren’t Enough: Reinventing The Customer Experience.The author is Loews Hotels chairman and CEO and is clearly very knowledgeable about the customer experience and how to improve it.

The book has two main sections – a problem/solution statement and a (much longer) section on “Reimagining the Customer Experience”. Each chapter has a “Big Ahas” section at the end to summarize the critical points Jonathan is trying to make and the book is generally well-written and an easy read. It is a little hotel- or hospitality-industry centric but not more than you would expect given his background.

The first section lays out why the authors think that customers are more fickle and harder to please than in the past. Arguing that there is no way to turn back the clock, they talk about “getting back to basics” and creating stronger, longer-lasting ties to customers. He quotes the CEO of Proctor and Gamble “People remember experiences. They don’t remember [product] attributes.” The book talks about engineering the total customer experience as the solution, starting by focusing on the totality of the customers experience across every touchpoint. Among his solution ideas are:

  • Look for ways to give your customers both simplicity and flexibility
    He uses In N Out as an example – simple range of products but happy to change them
  • Think about all the touchpoints your customers have
  • Link with customers directly even if you are not selling directly
  • Customers are a moving target – hence the need for adaptive control in the systems that serve them

The second part has a series of chapters, most of which had some great points.

  • Customers who are happy to buy
    • Make the sales process easy by making customers keen to buy
    • Challenges of retail banking in this environment – I think decisioning is key to building the bank of the future
    • Make your interfaces work together
  • Make customers into guests
    • People appreciate information and transparency
  • Welcome customers
    • Big organizations can think small in terms of welcoming customers – personalization is key
    • Do your research about how customers will react to avoid surprises
  • Security
    • Inconvenience caused by necessary security can be softened by transparency
  • Transparency
    • He gives the example of the 311 service in NYC with 40,000 calls a day and 14s response time – one wonders how many fewer calls decent self-service applications would lead to
    • Organizations can learn, and profit, from transparency
    • I was particularly struck by his discussion of frequent flyers using third party sites to get behind the walls put up by airlines and by his comment that if one customer knows it, eventually all will
  • Customization
    • He emphasizes the difficulty of mass customization and the value of empowering front line staff
    • People, he says, love customized products unless the process feels intrusive
    • The customer wants to be in control
    • Customize the features your customers care about (Build-a-Bear for example)
  • Customer communities
    • You should build your future with existing customers – and stop them leaving into the bargain
  • Internet
    • Face to face used to be norm, now not so but technology and the Internet can let you reconnect to customers directly – to recreate the corner store
  • Diversity
    • Targeted marketing at small, diverse groups can be effective in total – think about Progressive Insurance or CapOne and their micro segmentation
  • Offer something more

He also quotes someone using a great word to describe too much “shameless commerce” in blogs or similar – “brandalism”. Love it.

You can buy the book here and you might enjoy The Long Tail (reviewed here) and Precision Marketing too.


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