Image courtesy of Gerry Brown

Today I’m pleased to share a guest post by Paul Laughlin, Chief Blogger at

In today’s post, Paul shares a book review of Gerry Brown’s book, When a Customer Wins, Nobody Loses.

As I’ve shared before GDPR should be a positive customer benefit. As well as being a business benefit, when approached in the right way, GDPR is at root about empowering people/customers.

But, more widely, all is still not well in the CX garden. Despite what feels like a lifetime of various Customer Experience events, books, and consultants – all too often we still experience bad service.

That is the theme of this latest book from Gerry Brown.

I love it, and let me share with you why I think you might enjoy it too.

It’s funny we still need to make the case for “The Customer Wins”
The first positive to express about this book is Gerry’s candour and humour. With a gentle (mostly) and dry Canadian wit, Gerry exposes the first secret of CX: in most cases it ain’t yet working.

Much of the first half of this book is a combination of calling out that “the emperor has no clothes” and sharing buttock-clenching stories of all-too-common bad service. His points are well made.

Much more than fine words and strategy statements are needed to fix the most common customer irritants.

Gerry has been around the block enough, to put things simply, to cut through the latest Digital-Customer Self-Actualisation jargon and to make clear the basic building blocks that are needed to get started. This he does with both practical advice on influence and strategy, followed by tackling some of the barriers you are likely to face.

To achieve the Customer Wins requires technology and people
One of the strengths that Gerry brings to this conversation is his combination of IT expertise and people focus. This enables him to avoid two common pitfalls: too many CX speakers mislead their disciples into believing it is either all about technology solutions or all about people/culture. All businesses who’ve succeeded at CX have developed both.

Gerry explains some interesting back stories to the approach of Four Seasons, amidst other brands, as well as his personal experience with one Holiday Inn. These examples help ground this book in practical examples, showing what businesses need to manage in practice, not just aspirational statements and PR.

Beyond that, Gerry also engages with the work required in both technology and people departments. From cloud computing solutions and use of big data to organisational alignment and Bring Your Own Attitude. There are lots of practical tips to be picked up here.

As I write this post, I’ve just suffered another frustrating experience at a Novotel hotel. This is a brand I want to like, as their design and proposition work for me – but getting the basics wrong (like air conditioning) and hearing frontline staff powerless to do anything about it – confirms so many of Gerry’s points. Technology alone will not deliver CX nirvana; you need the right recruitment, training, and examples to deliver people who care and are empowered to ensure good customer outcomes.

Four principles to ensure the Customer Wins every time
As well as the many practical examples, from firms like John Lewis, Zappos, and Autoglass, Gerry also shares some models and theories. These help provide a framework and approach for those pushing for improved CX in their businesses. There’s more advice than I can simply summarise in this post (including the meaning of the CARE acronym at Four Seasons), but his central four are worth sharing.

In chapter 9, Gerry outlines these four principles to ensure Customers Win:

  1. Culture: beyond mission statements to how organisations have got ‘customer first’ into their DNA.
  2. Commitment: from the top down, demonstrating and expecting everyone to care about and ensure good CX is delivered.
  3. Community: from public visibility to community engagement and social care benefits.
  4. Communication: keeping the CX journey alive, so everyone can see progress and ideals.

Gerry also has some typically frank and useful advice on metrics, including why NPS or CES are not enough; you need to think more carefully about metrics and customer insight.

Case studies on how the Customer Wins
Compared to so many other CX textbooks, one of the reasons that I am happy to recommend Gerry’s book is its real world pragmatism. This is a book and consultancy approach grounded in what is actually being achieved as well as problems often faced. It helps so much that Gerry continues to see things through a customer lens and complain when things go wrong.

In keeping with the many examples, shared throughout this book, Gerry concludes by sharing three short case studies, bringing the challenges and principles to life in the businesses of HomeServe, Autoglass & Metro Bank. Here is a link to see the GoodReads preview for this book.

Do you have any CX books that have helped inspire you or guide your work? If so, please share in the comments below and perhaps Paul can publish one of your book reviews on his blog.

Paul Laughlin has over 20 years experience of leading teams to generate profit from analysing  data. Over the last 12 years he’s created, lead and improved customer insight teams across Lloyds, TSB, Halifax and Scottish Widows. He’s delivered incremental profit of over £10m pa and improved customers’ experiences.