Customer Experience 3.0: High-Profit Strategies in the Age of Techno Service

John A. Goodman, Amacom, 2014, 256 pp., $24.95 (book).

Goodman is a pioneer in customer experience, stemming from his days 40 years ago at General Motors and when he co-led the White House Office of Consumer Affairs study. His findings and recommendations implemented in many organizations including Coca Cola, Toyota and General Electric. In fact, the Toyota national manager of customer care wrote the foreword to the book.

The book is divided into three sections. Section one discusses the customer and the implications of the customer experience. It has three chapters that help to set expectations, and it describes the four-part framework for setting and fulfilling those expectations. In this section, he also defines ways to measure the dollar impact so that management will understand and support the customer experience framework. Four steps are discussed with good explanations of the detailed calculations.

Section two sets out to help design the complete customer experience and starts with mapping the current state and then delves deeply into how to maximize the four-part framework. Goodman suggests maximizing the customer service function by training and empowering employees to solve problems rather than referring the customer to someone else. His idea is to beg the customers to give feedback and complaints so the organization can learn fast.

Section three covers the issues involved in implementing the customer experience framework. The organization must expertly meld technology with the customer experience processes. The author lists the main failings of the customer experience effort such as improper use of technology, not empowering customer service employees and a lack of savvy leadership. Every chapter concludes with getting started questions and key takeaways that add to a reader's fast learning. I recommend the book to all leaders who want to grow their organizations.

Bill Baker
Santa Fe, NM

Effective Portfolio Management Systems

Christopher F. Voehl, H. James Harrington and William S. Ruggles, CRC Press, 2015, 190 pp., $29.95 (book).

The "portfolio" referred to in the title is not fiscal assets, but an organization’s projects and programs. However, the goal for both is the same. You don’t want to fail and waste, or lose irretrievable resources while getting the most return in the shortest time. If you plan to learn from your failures—by definition—you’ll require some failures to improve. Better to use a management system that, while it may seem to be bureaucratic and add layers of work, is a proven approach that minimizes loss and improves competitiveness. This book intends to provide that approach by outlining a complete project and program cycle from start to finish.

The book examines the four phases of portfolio management as defined by the authors:

  • Developing the organizational portfolio.
  • Creating the organizational portfolio management system implementation plan.
  • Implementing organizational portfolio management.
  • Practical applications of project change management.

The coverage of the process includes checklists, implementation activities, hints, required and desired inputs and outputs, excellent illustrations, and charts and diagrams. The authors packed a lot of information into a few pages.

Any organization that has a significant number of projects or programs to monitor and manage will gain some benefit and insight into making that effort successful. Following the authors’ suggested activities will take a lot of commitment, but the likelihood of a positive outcome is greatly improved.

Marc A. Feldman

Configuration Management for Senior Managers

Frank B. Watts, Elsevier, Butterwort-Heinemann 2015, 180 pp., $100 (book).

This book is a gem in terms of lessons learned, policies to follow, and follies to be aware of and avoid. It represents an accumulation of knowledge from the author’s many years of experience. The book starts out rather quickly and seemingly jumps into issues and practices right from the start, while in reality the book is a solid collection of continuous learning and timely insights that are captured for the reader.

The book is comprised of 14 chapters, an index, a list of figures and a preface. A list of policies and critical practices appear throughout the book. They are shown in bold, and support the author's writings and observations. This feature alone is substantial and worth more than the price of the book. The author challenges the reader in several ways, and the book works best for more experienced readers who have worked in manufacturing or have worked with bills of material in most any industry. If there is a shortcoming, it is the level of sophistication that the author assumes about the reader.

The book has many high points, including a frank discussion about product safety and how product failures should be addressed. Another high point is chapter 12, which deals with change management, related processes and the metrics for managing this challenging area.

No matter what topic the author is discussing, he centralizes each subject around the four "raw materials" of product manufacturing: money, tools, people and product. The book is well written, concise and clear. Most everyone will find something valuable in the book, and it is a useful and valuable read for most levels of experience.

Frank Pokrop
San Diego

The Power of Business Process Improvement: 10 Simple Steps to Increase Effectiveness, Efficiency and Adaptability

Susan Page, Amacom, 2015, 384 pp., $37.95 (book, second edition).

This book is written for both current practitioners of process improvement and readers about to embark on improving their organizations' processes. The book encapsulates a well-planned roadmap for developing objectives, plans and practices that will produce viable process improvements. As a producer, consumer or advisor, we have all likely experienced a bloated, ineffective, inefficient and inflexible process. The author discusses nine common occurrences.

Page suggests a four-part acid test for examining your business processes. She asserts that you need not be an expert on the ins and outs of total quality management, reengineering or business process management. A roadmap, and the journey that unfolds, is captured in 10 steps:

  1. Develop the process inventory.
  2. Establish the foundation.
  3. Draw the process map.
  4. Estimate time and cost.
  5. Verify the process map.
  6. Apply improvement techniques.
  7. Create internal controls, tools and metrics.
  8. Test and rework.
  9. Implement the change.
  10. Drive continuous improvement.

The book contains two case studies that demonstrate the overall change process. Each chapter give examples of easy-to-use methods and tools. The concept and method to analyze the impact of process change is extensively covered in this book. This is something that is seldom addressed in other books about process improvement. At the end of each chapter are self-assessing knowledge checks for each step. And, as with all steps, planning is essential. The book covers this subject in great detail.

Tables, tools and practices help the reader apply the suggested methods. Especially useful are estimating methods for each of the steps in the process improvement plan.

Reading and applying knowledge from this book should provide an easily digestible menu to sample prior to tackling a more sophisticated lean Six Sigma project. Developing a continuous improvement mindset ensures that the process continues to deliver the gains achieved.

Russell T. Westcott
Old Saybrook, CT

Recent Release

  • Innovating Lean Six Sigma
    Kimberly Watson-Hemphill and Kristine Nissen Bradley, McGraw-Hill Education, 2016, 304 pp., $35 (book).

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