Reading is a common thread through most peoples’ lives. If you think about it, you spend almost all of your time reading: you read text messages, emails, websites, and social media. You read for pleasure, to let your mind wander, and you read for work, to learn and uplevel yourself. With so much to read, it can be difficult to know what to prioritize.
Most lists of customer service books fail to consider the holistic aspects of providing an excellent experience. While a lot of the work can be strategized and summarized in succinct “how to”s, there’s a lot of emotional depth required to providing great support.
We’ve put together a list of 21 customer service books that cover the strategy behind providing a great experience for your customers, but also give you the tools to provide an excellent experience for yourself and your colleagues. Without your own oxygen mask on first, how can you expect to help others, after all? Read on to be engaged, inspired and the best version of professional you that you can be.
Books about Customer Service from World-Class Companies
1. The Nordstrom Way to Customer Experience Excellence: Creating a Values-Driven Service Culture
Nordstrom is well-known for delivering an excellent experience that goes above and beyond for their customers. They’ve successfully differentiated themselves from other department stores and propelled their brand to be recognized internationally for quality by creating a culture that encourages employee autonomy. Robert Spector and BreAnne O. Reeves deliver a guide that directs you on how best to empower yourself and your team members to become self-actualized customer service machines.
2. The Best Service Is No Service
Most people don’t want to have to reach out to support for help—they’d rather just be able to help themselves. That’s the premise that this book by Bill Price, former VP of customer service of Amazon, is built on. You’ll even get a takeaway to help measure your customers’ effort (and learn how much effort is too much) through Price’s “value-irritant” matrix.
3. Be Our Guest
If there’s one company that knows how to delight people, it’s Disney. While many customer service books written specifically about companies get outdated and stale, Disney’s practices have longevity over almost a century’s worth of practice. Similarly, Disney takes care to update this book regularly with new practices—so make sure you get the newest version.
Books on Customer Service from the Experts
4. The Amazement Revolution: Seven Customer Service Strategies to Create an Amazing Customer (and Employee) Experience
Almost everyone who works in a customer-focused role has read something by Shep Hyken, so it should come as no surprise that this book—a distillation of his most impactful points—knocks it out of the park. Unlike some other customer service books, which mostly serve as a sales pitch for hiring the author as a consultant, this text provides seven no-BS ways for companies to create delightful, outstanding experiences for all people involved.
5. Hug Your Haters: How to Embrace Complaints and Keep Your Customers
With the dawn of social media, customers are even more vocal than ever before. Given the public and social nature of sharing, it’s important to be able to embrace complaints, understand where they are coming from, and respond quickly and kindly. In this book, Jay Baer breaks down the two types of critics most companies face, and how to cope with them.
6. Chief Customer Officer 2.0: How to Build Your Customer-Driven Growth Engine
If your company is just hopping on board the customer-focus train, this is the book for you. Jeanne Bliss creates an easy-to-follow, step-by-step guide for how to drive company-wide customer focus. Our favorite things are the checklists at the end of each chapter, and the timelines that allow you to see how much farther you have to go.
7. Customer Obsessed
Why be customer focused when you could be customer obsessed instead? Eric Berridge’s book argues that in order to beat out your competition with an excellent experience, everyone needs to care about it. It’s not enough to have a department that pays attention to it. Everyone, including non-customer-facing teams, need to get behind it. This book teaches you how.
Books about Building a Great Customer Experience
8. The Effortless Experience
How much work does your user need to do in order to use your product? The Effortless Experience suggests that unless your answer is “none!” you’re not doing it right. The first half of the book uses data collected from hundreds of companies and over 100,000 customers to present their findings, while the second half focuses on presenting practical ways to implement them at your own company.
9. The Power of a Positive No: How to Say No and Still Get to Yes
Ever had to tell a customer that you don’t have a feature that they want and that you probably aren’t going to build it? I think we all have. This book gives specific guidelines about how to say no and maintain boundaries while still being kind, respectful and helpful to the people around us.
10. The Paradox of Choice
People make less effective decisions when confronted with too many choices—or at least that’s the premise of this book. Have you ever been in the grocery store and been boggled by a whole wall of yogurt? It’s overwhelming, stressful and generally unenjoyable. Instead of giving your customers tons of choices, giving them a few really good options can help make for better experiences and more loyal customers.
11. Uplifting Service: The Proven Path to Delighting Your Customers, Colleagues, and Everyone Else You Meet
This is another one of those customer service books that applies to life outside of business, too. Kaufman lays out the steps you can take to build a sustainable culture of outstanding service and offers tools and practices that have been proven effective in businesses, governments, communities, and homes.
12. The Checklist Manifesto
Is there anything more satisfying than checking off the last thing on your To Do list? I think not. Atul Gawande, a renowned surgeon, shares some incredible stories about how checklists — such a simple concept — save millions of lives every year in hospitals, airplanes and huge construction sites. But beyond industrial, large-scale systems, checklists are a huge boost to customer service productivity and effectiveness, too. This book breaks down how to implement them in your own support structure for maximum effect.
13. Emotional Intelligence 2.0
If people with high IQs are geniuses, what does that make people with high EQ? This book surmises that they, too, are geniuses. Emotional intelligence is the ability to understand your own emotions—helpful for personal life—but also the emotions of the people around you—helpful for excellent customer service. Read this book to get better at self-awareness, self-management, social awareness and relationship management.
Books To Help You Succeed Outside of Customer Service
14. How to Win Friends and Influence People
Is there a person alive and doing business today that hasn’t at least heard of this book? This classic by Dale Carnegie stands up to the tests of time and teaches many of the skills at the heart of providing excellent customer service. Learn how to actively listen, provide honest constructive and positive insights, and be able to admit when you are wrong or don’t know the answer. This is one of the customer service books on this list that will also help you in your life outside of the queue.
This book explains how to use behavioral psychology to train your customers how to get the most out of your product. Instead of simply hoping that people are reading your docs, read as Thaler and Sunstein describe how small “nudges” can completely change the direction of choices that people make.
16. The Hard Truth About Soft Skills: Workplace Lessons Smart People Wish They’d Learned Sooner
Many people assume that the “soft skills” required to be an excellent customer-facing employee are easily gained, and not as important as “hard” technical skills. While many customer service books do focus on the soft skills, Peggy Klaus emphasizes that the things like workload management, giving and receiving feedback, and developing a brand aren’t just for individual contributors, and can actually impact managerial work, too.
17. The Hard Thing About Hard Things: Building a Business When There Are No Easy Answers
Ben Horowitz offers essential advice on building and running a startup, covering practical wisdom for situations that you don’t typically read in textbooks. Pulling from personal experience, you’ll learn about how to handle lay-offs, constructive performance management and other tricky conversations with grace.
18. Getting Everything You Can Out Of All You’ve Got
This book provides readers with 21 steps to think critically and move above and beyond your competition. While not strictly customer service related, this book breaks down the practices of excellent, historical business people and distills them into easily applicable lessons for everyone to benefit from—not just CEOs.
While this book might be thought of as more beneficial for traditional sales, every customer-facing role will benefit from learning how to ask the right questions and listen actively. Levesque teaches you a formula based around the premise that you should never have to guess what your prospects and customers are thinking. Instead of using it for sales, your team can use it for proactive support, documentation, or other CX improvements.
20. Mapping Experiences: A Complete Guide to Creating Value through Journeys, Blueprints, and Diagrams
Being able to share your data in compelling ways is one of the most important components of any role. Many of us, though, don’t know the best ways to do so. This book, a bit more cut-and-dry than the other customer service books on this list, helps you level up that skill with step-by-step guidance on how to create excellent charts and graphs.
21. The Happiness Advantage
Who doesn’t want to be happier? Shawn Achor teaches readers about research-backed methods to get happier and be more positive over time. Positivity and joy are great for the personal benefits, but also spill over into better productivity, better performance, and better relationships with your customers. It’s a win-win.
What are your favorite customer service books?
How many of these books have you already read? Did we miss one of your favorite customer service books? Let us know in the comments!