Image: Brad Friedman

Image: Brad Friedman

Brian Solis‘ book [What's The Future] Of Business came out in March. I was excited to finally receive the book I pre-ordered last Fall. The book’s format is not what you would expect from the author of two other books of his I’ve read; The End Of Business As Usual and Engage. It’s a hard-bound, square-shaped, coffee table like book filled with some incredibly creative “Visualization” by Hugh MacLeod and his team at Social Object Factory.

Let’s just get this out of the way, right off the top. I loved this book! It introduces the reader to some new thinking that aligns the tenants of user experience with innovation and leadership to improve business performance, engagement and relationships for a new generation of consumerism. Solis writes in great detail about our new customer-centric business world with a warning to business owners that if they don’t change their business model, approach and customer and employee relationships they will become extinct. He writes:

In recent years, many top fortune 500 companies have slipped out of contention as their business models failed to keep up in these turbulent times. Survival requires constantly adapting as your customers’ behavior changes. You need new systems, processes, and intentions in place to recognize disruption as it happens, asses new opportunities, and quickly test new ideas.

With the warning that businesses must “innovate or die,” Solis introduces us to Generation C(ustomer) and the digital commerce world that gave rise to it. “Yes, they’re on Facebook and Twitter. But, it’s more than that. Smart phones, tablets, untraportable laptops, and whatever’s next … technology is becoming an extension of humanity.” All this forces businesses to think differently about this group of connected consumers.

Gen C’ers are not bound by age; they’re not defined by income, ethnicity, or education, either. These consumers do not surf the web like other customers. They live and breathe in social networks and use mobile devices as their windows to the world. They don’t learn or make decisions like their traditional counterparts. Gen C lives the digital lifestyle and unites demographics around interests and behavior.

Solis doesn’t just offer these observations and leave us hanging. He shares with us his recommendations on how to align business objectives, strategies and marketing plans based on this new Gen C and the new world of engagement he introduces us to. He writes:

Time to resolution, cost per engagement, NPS, wait time … these are metrics of an aging era. Advocacy, referrals, positive endorsements, reviews, loyalty, these are the metrics that can be directly linked to social customer service among many other tangible outcomes, including return on investment (ROI).

I found it interesting how Solis transformed the classic marketing funnel into the four moments of truth a consumer faces after being introduced to a product or service:

    • The Zero Moment of Truth (Google’s study) – It’s what people search for. The moments before people buy, where impressions are formed after they encounter the stimulus that directs their next steps.
    • The First Moment of Truth – It’s what people think when they see your product and the words describing the product.
    • The Second Moment of Truth – It’s what people feel, think, hear, touch, smell and sometimes taste as they experience your product over time. It’s also how your company supports them in their efforts.
    • The Ultimate Moment of Truth – It’s that shared moment at every step of the experience that leads to the customer’ Zero Moment of Truth and the sharing their experience with others.

Solis tries to help us understand this new and evolving concept of social commerce. He helps us by describing the customer journey leading to the purchase of our product or service as well as the psychology of engagement and the customer’s experience buying and then using your product.

This book is not filled with fluff. It’s filled with the details you would expect from an analyst of Solis’ stature. The format and artwork could give you the impression this is not a serious business book like the one’s that came before it. Don’t be fooled.

If you’ve read the book, please add your comments below and tell us what you thought or what the book made you think about. If you haven’t read the book, I hope you’ll return here after you do and share your thoughts with us then.