Gini Dietrich

Book Review: The End of Business As Usual

By: Gini Dietrich | February 3, 2012 | 

Last week Jeannie Walters and I were discussing Brian Solis’s new book The End of Business As Usual.

Because she is a customer experience expert, she was especially interested in what Brian had to say about the connected customer and where business is going because of it.

When I mentioned I was writing a review of the book, she asked if she could join in.

And, because the Pinterest debate between Paul Sutton and I worked so well, we thought we’d do a combined book review.

Jeannie reviews it from the customer experience angle and I review it from the leadership angle.

What Jeannie Says

I expected to skim this book. I admit it. And it’s the kind of book I would describe as “dense.”

I’ve followed Brian for a while now and he never lacks real information backed up with actual research.

This is my favorite book by him so far. My recommendation is to take some time with it. It pays off.

The thing about this book, and the message it conveys throughout, is that it applies to not only marketers or social media types, but to any leader in business. And it’s filled with good examples, insightful graphs, relevant (and surprising) charts and more.

The basic message – companies now must adapt to the consumer revolution or die – is articulated in such a way that I hope it appeals to not just the change-agent marketers but to the entire executive suite.

Of course, from my perspective, this is good news. Customer experience is something I discuss daily, and too often it is defined inside the walls of a company as exactly what they happen to be delivering at that moment. “We are a software company, and as long as we are selling software, we’re delivering a great experience!”

The definition in this book is vast.

Customer experience has little to do with your product and more to do with your customer. Your customer is changing daily. So you better adapt to their behaviors or fall into the digital graveyard of Circuit City and Borders.

The study of how we, each of us, as customers, has changed the game is what makes this so compelling.

After all, nobody told the Millennials to get on the technology bandwagon, they just live there.

We turn to our friends and families for referrals the most, but we do it now through social networks – sometimes, depending on our age and other factors.

The world is not linear anymore.

Brian’s definition of “the connected customer” is the closest I’ve seen to reality.

There are a lot of gems in this book, including how to differentiate the segments of the connected customer population and what steps to take to truly engage at each level with your own customers.

But the best part is the intelligent discussion about customer experience without demonizing companies.

It is a hopeful book, intended to help anyone in business understand they are co-creating the experience with their customers, not creating an “us vs. them” culture.

Go get it! And get some coffee. You’ll be up for some time.

What Gini Says

It’s not a surprise that a book by Brian is … dense. And heady. And highly intelligent. And filled with charts and graphs that support his thinking, as well as research compiled with several companies.

It’s also not a book for those of you already working in a customer-centric business.

What? You’re not already working in a customer-centric business? This book is for you, then.

What I find most interesting are the company examples he uses.

We’re all accustomed to reading about Zappos and what they did with the social web very early on to attract customers who quickly became brand ambassadors.

Nearly 500 Zappos employees use Twitter and they boast millions of followers.

This isn’t a surprise. Most of us already know this story. What is a surprise is the focus on a new type of CEO, one that focuses on designed user or customer experiences.

One that focuses on designed experiences.

Brian describes the E in CEO as standing for “experience.” He says the late Steve Jobs (Apple), Brian Dunn (Best Buy), Michael Dell (Dell), Howard Schultz (Starbucks), and Richard Branson (Virgin) all belong in this elite club of executives because they know how, and have, to create customer-centric businesses.

Businesses that aren’t ruled by the customer, but listen to, and take feedback from, those who buy and refer business.

As the leader of a company (and soon to be a second), this is extremely interesting to me as I learn to pivot our business model, our vision, and our offerings in order to grow.

It’s not a book about social media. It’s not even a book about PR and marketing. It’s a book about changing your business to focus on the customer. Not in a way that will detract from your growth, but in a way that supports and enhances the customer experience.

It’s time to sit up and pay attention. Customers don’t want to talk to the middle man. As was evidenced this week with Susan G. Komen, customers don’t want to be censored.

Customers want to talk to you and it’s time to figure out how to let them…no matter if you sell direct to consumers or not.

Jeannie Walters is a customer experience investigator (a title she has trademarked) and is the owner of 360Connext. She blogs (not often enough, according to Gini) in the same spot. You can follow her on Twitter at @jeanniecw

About Gini Dietrich

Gini Dietrich is the founder and CEO of Arment Dietrich, an integrated marketing communications firm. She is the author of Spin Sucks, co-author of Marketing in the Round, and co-host of Inside PR. She also is the lead blogger at Spin Sucks and is the founder of Spin Sucks Pro. Join the Spin Sucks   community!

  • Thanks, Gini! So…I guess I should blog more? Geesh.

    • ginidietrich

      @jeanniecw I like that’s what you took away from this. I mean, 28 days between blog posts isn’t going to cut it. No wine for you tomorrow night!

      • @ginidietrich You are a cruel task master.

  • I adore briansolis – incredibly sharp, witty and a writer who knows how to communicate complex subjects clearly and articulately. He sent me a signed copy of “Putting the Public Back in PR” a while back that I’ve desperately been meaning to review. 🙂

    • ginidietrich

      @jasonkonopinski Yeah – get with it. That’s so 2010.

      • @ginidietrich Shut it, Dietrich.

        • ginidietrich

          @jasonkonopinski Nanny nanny boo boo!

        • Pbtthhhh.

          Anyhow, I’ve got this new one sitting in a stack of ‘must reads’ at home.

        • ginidietrich

          @jasonkonopinski My stack is gigantic. I’ll never get to them all.

        • @ginidietrich #TWSS

    • @jasonkonopinski sigh. You had risen so high up in my world. I am sending you to Bill the Cat for some fixing.

  • jeffespo

    @ginidietrich so what you are saying in that review is that I should read that free copy on my desk and not use it as a paperweight?

    • ginidietrich

      @jeffespo EXACTLY!

      • jeffespo

        @ginidietrich ok I will and I am trusting you so if it is no bueno… just saying a stink eye is coming.

        • StaceyHood

          @jeffespo @ginidietrich needs a stink eye. She totally ignores people.

        • ginidietrich

          @StaceyHood I only ignore you Hood. @jeffespo

  • ginidietrich

    @360connext What? I didn’t know this account existed!

  • ginidietrich

    @swagclub I get to see you soon!

    • swagclub

      @ginidietrich it’s just a rumour, dunno that duchess is gonna allow it. Praps.

      • ginidietrich

        @swagclub Ohhh. I hope it’s more than a rumor!

        • swagclub

          @ginidietrich iffy. Got some conflicting capers.

        • ginidietrich

          @swagclub 🙁

  • ChrisSaysThis

    @ginidietrich Finally got around to reading it I see! Turned out to be a great course text as expected. Great review as well!

    • ginidietrich

      @ChrisSaysThis It’s only been sitting here for months

      • ChrisSaysThis

        @ginidietrich I still have a stack of @inside_pr recommendations from this summer to get to, and I’m sure you’re slightly busier than I am.

        • ginidietrich

          @ChrisSaysThis I do one review a month. It’s all I can muster.

      • ChrisSaysThis

        @ginidietrich So I’d say it’s acceptable.

  • jeanniecw

    @briansolis Glad you liked it, Brian! It’s always fun to work with @ginidietrich. Really liked your book!

  • ginidietrich

    @BrunoGebarski Thanks Bruno!

  • Glad it is not a social media book because I pretty much disagree with brian when it comes to social media almost 100% LOL

    My one question is how does one read business books., I have such a hard time. I didn’t even like them in college! The only ones I really found incredibly enlightening was Who Moved My Cheese and Rogers Rules for Success.

    • ginidietrich

      @HowieSPM I really wanted to find something I didn’t like about the book. I even told Brian that. But I couldn’t. It’s really very good.

      I hated business books in college. Now I find them fascinating. I typically get three or four good ideas from every book I read. It’s worth the time.

  • When you get to the Doonesbury, Bloom County and Calvin and Hobbes books can I co review with you?

    • ginidietrich

      @HowieSPM YES!!

  • I appreciate this joint review. I’ve had the book since that week long social media conference in DC whose name I should remember and am too lazy to Google. But a skim over the table of contents made me feel like I knew what the book was going to say already. And the title… But you can’t judge a book by its cover, or its TOC. Nowadays, I judge a book I’m not sure I want to read by what my peers say. Which proves his point. Which means I should probably read this book. 🙂

    • @Tinu LOL…I love your thought process. Yes, read it!