Satisfied Customers Tell Three Friends, Angry Customers Tell 3,000 By Pete Blackshaw Doubleday; 193 pages
There I was, at 6 A.M. on the chilly day after Christmas, jammed in the vestibule of a well-known national department store, all because a badly worded newspaper ad had lured me and dozens of others to arrive for the after-holiday sale an hour early. No one let us in the store; no one apologized later when I sent an e-mail complaint to the company's website. Luckily for the store, I wasn't quite aware of how much damage I could do to its reputation online in response to its considerable inconsideration.
Now I am. This book deserves a spot on the desk of every executive who worries about his company's reputational risk. The author, head of strategic services at Nielsen Online, tells tale after tale of angry consumers whose gripes were magnified a thousandfold through online postings, message boards, YouTube and even the mainstream media when a seemingly ordinary dispute spiraled. In one notable consumer revolt in 2005, media pundit Jeff Jarvis used his popular blog BuzzMachine to chastise Dell founder Michael Dell on the quality of the company's laptop and customer service. A legion of other dissatisfied customers piled on. The resulting consumer firestorm damaged the brand name, writes Blackshaw: "A swarm of digital termites ended up eating away at the reputation Dell had spent countless millions of dollars to create."
The author gives an awkward label to this new relationship between consumers and producers: consumer-generated media (CGM). Luckily, he says, this bond can be monitored, measured and repaired: "Whether you hire a major firm like Nielsen Online, Cymfony/TNS, Umbria or BuzzLogic, or use any of the various free tools available online, you should be religiously mining the Web to understand what CGM is saying about your brand."
Ironically, the way Blackshaw advocates avoiding toxic CGM is decidedly low-tech. He's a great believer in old-fashioned attributes such as trust and authenticity. That means any claim made about a product had better be irrefutable, because the world will soon know if it's not. And be sure to rev up that underutilized, underfunded consumer-affairs department, he warns. And next time, Macy's, no more Ms. Nice Guy.
Globality: Competing With Everyone From Everywhere For Everything By Harold Sirkin, James Hemerling and Arindam Bhattacharya Business Plus; 292 pages
Globalization was just phase 1. Get ready for a new wave of challengers, "bursting their way onto the big stage." So say the three authors of this smart analysis about the latest developments in global competition: "One day, it may be your company that Tata Group wants to acquire, your child calling home from Shanghai, your job moving to Mexico City and your brand-new Changfeng gleaming in the driveway." The trio urges U.S. companies to fight back by creating low-cost, high-quality and ingenious products and by reaching deep into big markets. And to "adapt, adopt and synthesize ideas from everyone and everywhere."
Good Is Not Enough: And Other Unwritten Rules for Minority Professionals By Keith R. Wyche, with Sonia Alleyne Portfolio; 242 pages
The author, President of U.S operations for Pitney Bowes Management Services, is a fierce advocate of hard work and self-improvement. He is also an African American who knows what it means to be "the only one in the room." His new book is by turns a solid career guide, inspirational tract and source of knowing advice for young Latino, Asian and black professionals. "If you're going to play the game," he counsels, "you'd better know the rules."