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Now is better than we think

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

If the future of commerce forecast by Don Peppers and Martha Rogers in their new book, Extreme Trust: Honesty as a Competitive Advantage, turns out to be even partly true… but then, it already is partly true.

In a nutshell, the premise of the book is that while many companies today are trustworthy – they mostly do what they say they will do – they are not trustable unless or until they proactively, and with competence (this is not a trivial qualifier!), promote and safeguard their customers’ best interests. Thus, trustability – relentlessly scrutinized and monitored via social media and the inevitable transparency enabled by technology and human connectivity – will soon become the new standard by which businesses will succeed or fail.

That’s a standard I can live with.

Now, I will admit that while I was delighted to feel so good, so encouraged, as I read the book's opening chapter, those very emotions made me skeptical and suspicious that what I was feeling originated from reading what I wanted to read and not what really describes the world-out-there. But the further I went into the book, the greater, the deeper, the more compelling became the authors’ case. I realized that the book isn’t a forecast; it’s a startling and exhilarating interpretation of what previously appeared to be chaotic socio-economic events and dynamics. Their use of the dramatic, up-to-the-minute anecdotes and examples with which our marketplace abounds is entertaining and powerfully drives home the reality of the brave new world of commerce that is emerging all around us. The transition – happening now – is not and won’t continue to be easy or painless, but we all know that already. What we may not know is how much hope there is.

I consider myself late to the social media party; in fact, I'd say I'm still in the foyer greeting the hosts. But another rich facet of this book is the incredible context it provides and insight it offers latecomers like me on social media; how and why it works; how and why it has become so prevalent and will only continue to grow; the larger function that it performs. 

There’s far more depth and breadth to this book than I can convey in a blog post (check out the 45 pages of notes in the back), but I feel I would be remiss if I did not point out, at least, that in addition to their amazing explanations for the promising new development that is trustability, the authors go much, much further by providing the understanding, the guidance, and the direction to navigate the profound changes that will accompany and have already resulted from this phenomenon.

I highly recommend this book. Anyone currently wrestling with implementing and delivering on the promise of customer centricity, with all that entails, will find this invaluable resource a powerful, visionary guide by which to steer their efforts. And everyone who has ever had a lousy customer experience and longs for better days and better treatment at the hands of businesses and corporations will find it a thought-provoking and extremely satisfying read.


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