CMI Book of the Year asks managers to reach out to customers

06 February 2014 -

Matt Watkinson

Matt Wilkinson’s The 10 Principles Behind Great Customer Experiences challenges leaders to rethink how they are delivering their products and services

Managers have been sent a strong signal that they should spend more time working out how to impress their customer bases. At this week’s Management Book of the Year Awards, hosted by the Chartered Management Institute (CMI) in partnership with the British Library, the overall winner was Matt Wilkinson’s The 10 Principles Behind Great Customer Experiences. The book explores the gulf between how business leaders operate, and what customers and clients actually think of the products and services they receive. It also offers some powerful suggestions for how managers can alter their outlook to become more customer focused.

Leading British economist and competition judge Professor Chris Roebuck gave his thoughts on why the book had won. “This is a book everyone should read – customer-facing or not,” he said.  “It addresses some of the key challenges managers are facing in 2014, like how to address costs without sacrificing customer experience. [It] has huge relevance to the public sector, too. If you look at the organisations with no historic DNA in terms of change management, who are being asked change at a very quick rate in 2014, without any funds – it’s those in the public sector. I would recommend this book, without hesitation, to managers in the public sector.”

CMI chief executive Ann Francke added: “The idea behind the CMI Management Book of the Year is to uncover those nuggets of ‘Management Gold’ that will really make a difference. No organisation will succeed if its managers aren’t focused on their customers – so if you want to grow in 2014, read Matt Watkinson’s The 10 Principles Behind Great Customer Experiences.”

Watkinson is thrilled that his book has found its target and garnered support. “It’s so gratifying to see that people are finding [its] approach useful,” he said. “So often we determine customer experience through focus groups and surveys, whereas using principles is faster, easier, and more likely to be right.”

Above all, the main points that Watkinson wants the book’s readers to take away are:

1. Expectations

Think about what expectations you’re setting in customers.

2. Effort

Be effortless to deal with.

3. Experience

Consider all areas of experience, including social and sensory.

Professional Manager asked the author why it is that we are not seeing more managers engage with the customer experience. In his view, it is largely down to the dominance of data – and managers need to open their eyes to grassroots reception of their products and services. “I don’t think that they don’t care,” he said. “But I do think we’ve ended up with a culture where people are terrified of making a decision without a spreadsheet to point at. The softer side of business can’t be reduced to a series of ones and zeros. It’s also caused by only ever experiencing the customer through research, rather than going out and spending time with real people and understanding what they’re like. If you’re in a huge tower somewhere and there are 30 floors of people between you and the customer, it’s tricky to know what to do.”

Here are the competition’s five category winners in full:

Innovation and Entrepreneurship

The 10 Principles Behind Great Customer Experiences by Matt Watkinson, published by Pearson

Practical Manager

Decisive by Chip and Dan Heath, published by Random House

The New Manager

Winning without Losing by Martin Bjergegaard and Jordan Milne, published by Profile

The Commuter's Read

The Art of Thinking Clearly by Rolf Dobelli, published by Hodder & Stoughton – Sceptre

Management and Leadership Textbook

International Management  by Elizabeth Christopher, published by Kogan Page

Find out more about Matt Watkinson's book at his website

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