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August 25, 2004

News & Opinion: BOOK REVIEW: Simply Better

By: Dylan Schleicher @ 7:02 PM – Filed under: Marketing & Sales

I just got done reading Simply Better: Winning and Keeping Customers by Delivering What Matters Most by Patrick Barwise and Sean Meehan (Harvard Business School Press, August 2004). The first plus for me is that the authors are European (Barwise teaches at London Business School and Meehan at IMD in Switzerland). I always like the fresh set of anecdotes and perspectives you get from authors on another continent (see Funky Business, Corporate Religion).
The premise of the book is that companies should focus on customers and want is it that they really want:
We believe your first priority should be to improve the performance of the things managers often dismiss as being mere "table stakes," "hygiene factors," or "order qualifiers" ( as opposed to order winners) and that we will refer to as the "basics". Most customers, irrespective of how you may have organized them into segments with slightly different needs, expect the basics. Alas, it seems they are disappointed remarkably often. The rewards that would arise from businesses simply meeting and exceeding straightforward, reasonable expectations are substantial.

They point to a number of companies ( Orange, Alliance & Leicester, Tesco) who served the very basic needs of the customer better and have grown and/or own their markets.
I like the back to basics message. Some will find it is written for the Global 500 set, but there are lessons to be learned for everyone.

About Dylan Schleicher


Dylan Schleicher has been a part of the 800-CEO-READ claque since 2003. Even though he's stayed on at the company, he has not stayed put. After beginning in shipping & receiving, he joined customer service and accounting before moving into his current, highly elliptical orbit of duties overseeing the ChangeThis and In the Books websites, the company's annual review of books and in-house design. He lives with his wife and two children in the Washington Heights neighborhood on Milwaukee's West Side.