The 29 Best Customer Service Books You Need to Read

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Sophia Bernazzani Barron
Sophia Bernazzani Barron

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There are a lot of things you can learn on the job when you work in customer service.

customer service books

But, I always believe that it is equally valuable to learn from experts and people who have succeeded in what you’re already doing. That way, you can adapt their learnings and years of experience to your processes.

Below, I’ve compiled a list of customer service books you can read that contain valuable insights from experts that anyone working in a customer-facing role can benefit from reading. Pick one, grab a bookmark, and get started on improving your knowledge so you can become an expert, too.

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Table of Contents

29 Top Customer Service Books

Customer Service Books

Read these books to learn how to create an exceptional customer experience — featuring real-world case studies and time-tested methods created by industry thought leaders.

1. The Nordstrom Way to Customer Experience Excellence: Creating a Values-Driven Service Culture (2017)

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Nordstrom has set the standard for customer happiness in the sea of its department store competitors, so authors Robert Spector and BreAnne O. Reeves wrote the book on how they did it.

Key insights from Nordstrom include:

  • Empowering self-motivated employees to go the extra mile to make customers happy
  • To prioritize ease-of-use for your customers across every touchpoint they have with your brand
  • To always think like the customer to build a customer-centric brand on every team and function within your business.

The behind-the-curtain look this book provides is perfect for those of us who benefit the most from real-life examples.

2. Hug Your Haters: How to Embrace Complaints and Keep Your Customers (2016)

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Author Jay Baer Is a certified customer service expert — in 2023, he was named a Top 30 Global Guru for customer experience and marketing. He wrote Hug Your Haters for a modern customer service organization that isn't just built on the phone or email but on social media and messaging apps, too. Baer implores readers to build their customer service organization around these digital channels, where most customers share their rave reviews and complaints.

I think this is a well-worth-it read because of Baer's unique and humorous approach, highlighting something all customer service employees have experienced — haters. Where else will you find crucial stats from a fold-out poster called “The Hatrix?”

3. What Customers Crave: How to Create Relevant and Memorable Experiences at Every Touchpoint (2016)

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Author Nicholas Webb has some things to say about customer experience: “Let's face it: Today, most customer experience programs are a disaster.”

Webb says businesses that survive offer “optimal” customer service, but most are a long way off from that. The main reason, he argues, is because technological innovations of the past few decades can lead businesses to treat customers like data points instead of treating them like real, unique people.

Webb’s calls for reviewing each touchpoint a customer shares with your business and evaluating what you can do, both online and offline, will help you improve each step of a customer's experience. And, when you optimize each stage vs. broad-stroke changes, you’ll satisfy individualistic customers who look for more than the bare minimum.

4. Uncommon Service: How to Win by Putting Customers at the Core of Your Business (2012)

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Authors Frances Frei and Anne Morriss present a unique perspective on achieving exceptional customer service: instead of trying to excel in every aspect of your business, identify what your customers value most and prioritize excelling in that specific area.

That‘s right: The authors advocate for underperforming in one area of your business to excel at customer service — because, they argue, you can’t do everything well. It sounds counterintuitive, but the authors say it can help businesses gain a competitive edge in a world where customer service is a huge factor in who consumers do business with. By focusing on delivering outstanding service, you stand out in a crowded market and truly connect with your customers.

5. The Amazement Revolution: Seven Customer Service Strategies to Create an Amazing Customer (and Employee) Experience (2011)

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Authored by customer service thought leader Shep Hyken, this book offers seven practical strategies to improve customer happiness and loyalty, including cultivating partnerships with customers, providing unique membership awards, and building community with customers.

It has many practice ideas and strategies supported by real-world examples that you can take into work as soon as you read them. I especially like his definition of amazing service as “Service that is consistently and predictably better than average.” It’s a helpful guiding light for all service teams.

6. The Thank You Economy (2011)

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Marketing mogul and author Gary Vaynerchuk regularly talks about the importance of 1:1 communication in marketing — and his philosophies extend to the customer service world, too.

In this book, Vaynerchuk writes that the era of small courtesies is returning to the business world now that social media enables businesses to communicate more intimately across different channels. He also writes that if businesses don't pursue 1:1 customer care and engagement, they'll lose business to their competitors.

Since the customer service industry is well into its digital transformation, I think this book will leave you thinking about how you can use the power of technology to effectively grow and scale your relationships with customers.

7. The New Gold Standard: 5 Leadership Principles for Creating a Legendary Customer Experience Courtesy of the Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company (2008)

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If you're not familiar with the Ritz-Carlton's famous customer service policy, it's pretty legendary: Every single employee, no matter what their role, has the discretion to spend up to $2,000 per day to improve customer experience.

This policy, and the principles and foundations behind it, have built the brand a legion of loyal customers, and in this book, author Joseph Michelli explains how other brands can build a similarly memorable brand and customer experience — using principles like “empower [employees] through trust,” “leave a lasting footprint,” and "define and refine [the experience you want customers to have].”

Customer Service Books for Employees

Below, I’ve listed five customer service books for any representative who wants to make a difference in their position.

8. Anything You Want: 40 Lessons for a New Kind of Entrepreneur (2015)

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In Anything You Want, Derek Sivers details his entrepreneurial journey with CDBaby, from its creation to when he sold it for $22 million.

Throughout the book, he consistently emphasizes how the company's growth stemmed from (and was mostly possible because of) his focus on his customers. It’s a must-read for any customer service professional at any level of expertise looking to learn how a customer-centric mindset truly helps a business succeed.

9. The Art of Explanation: Making your Ideas, Products, and Services Easier to Understand (2012)

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As a customer service pro, I know you do a lot of explaining, and I know this because I’ve been the person asking the questions you give answers to. Lee LeFever is an expert in explaining complex topics simply and, in his book, outlines the three P’s of concise explanations: planning, packaging, and presenting.

With his tips, you’ll become an expert who is so good at explaining your product or service and solving customer queries that you never have to repeat yourself.

10. Be Our Guest: Perfecting the Art of Customer Service (2011)

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Be Our Guest offers insight from a company famed for its customer service — Disney.

You’ll learn about its customer-centric strategies that drive happiness and keep customers coming back for more. It highlights the significance of consistency, adaptability, and innovation in maintaining exceptional service standards.

When you close the book, you’ll have immediate takeaways to apply to your day-to-day and an understanding that every moment you share with a customer, no matter how small, can be a deciding factor of loyalty.

Customer Success Books

These books are about taking customer service to the next level: customer success.

Once you‘ve started solving your customers’ problems and helping guide them toward solutions and strategies for achieving their goals with your product or service, you can start building a customer success program — one that helps your customers succeed so your business succeeds and turns your happy customers into your loyal advocates and evangelists.

11. Customer Success: How Innovative Companies are Reducing Churn and Growing Revenue (2016)

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Authored by some of the pioneers of the customer success movement, this is the definitive book to read to get the lay of the customer success land — focused squarely on improving customer loyalty, decreasing churn, and adapting to the advent of the subscription economy.

It’s primarily focused on subscription-based, software-as-a-service (SaaS) businesses, but the principles and ideas they explore are relevant to any industry or business. A key concept that's explored again and again is customer loyalty — and specifically, behavioral vs. attitudinal loyalty. Attitudinal loyalty, the authors explain, is loyalty when customers love a particular brand or product— it's ideal but difficult to achieve. Read the book to learn how.

12. Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose (2013)

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Authored by Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh, Delivering Happiness is a case study of a company made successful by its exceptional customer service. The book chronicles Zappos‘ one-of-a-kind company culture and commitment to customer experience that’s made it as big as it is today.

Hsieh really believes that company culture is a determining factor and predictor of your business's success — and the kind of service your customers will receive. Like the authors of Uncommon Service, Hsieh advocates for choosing one thing to do exceptionally well instead of trying to be average at everything. And that one thing, he argues, should be customer service.

13. Customer Loyalty: How to Earn It, How to Keep It (2002)

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In this book, Jill Griffin delivers practical, easy-to-implement advice about, well, what the title suggests: how to earn and maintain customer loyalty. Each section focuses on a different stage of the customer experience and how to prioritize loyalty in each stage, such as turning a first-time buyer into a repeat customer, preventing customer loss when you notice signs of churn, and more.

14. The Loyalty Effect: The Hidden Force Behind Growth, Profits, and Lasting Value (2001)

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This book is authored by Frederick Reichheld — one of the creators of the Net Promoter Score® — the landmark customer happiness and loyalty metric many businesses use today. And like the NPS, the ideas originally published by Reichheld in 1996 are some of the most widely shared beliefs in today's customer service and success spaces.

I can confidently say that, despite being published quite a few years ago, Reichheld’s key points aren’t, and will never be, outdated: loyal customers are cheaper to service than non-loyal customers, loyal customers are more willing to pay higher prices because of their satisfaction with a brand, and loyal customers are valuable marketing agents that recommend you to others—free referrals.

Customer Service Leadership Books

These books aren't written strictly for leaders, but they offer valuable lessons for managers and leaders who head customer-facing teams, as well as ideas for influencing and building trust with the customers you serve.

15. Chief Customer Officer 2.0: How to Build Your Customer-Driven Growth Engine (2015)

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Author Jeanne Bliss is a thought leader on the role of customer leadership — like the Chief Customer Officer, for example. Her book outlines the five competencies she uses to evaluate and coach customer-driven executives to turn customers into a growth engine — but they're useful principles to use as guiding north stars, no matter what stage of your career:

  • Honor and manage your customers as assets
  • Align around customer experience
  • Build a customer listening path
  • Proactive experience reliability and innovation
  • Leadership, accountability, and culture

16. Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action (2011)

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In another good read for anyone trying to build a career, author and speaker Simon Sinek's book details how successful leaders can inspire others to rally behind a cause or a mission by making a simple but important change: putting the “why” before the “how” or the “what” In other words, successful leaders should focus on getting everyone on board with the purpose before diving into the process or product.

This is valuable guidance for leaders of teams and customer-facing professionals in general. By focusing on the “why” of your customer, you will be able to more effectively navigate conversations to build rapport and trust with them, allowing you to build a mutually beneficial relationship and inspire their loyalty — to you and your brand.

17. The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable (2009)

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In The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, Patrick Lencioni expertly shows the importance of building cohesive teams because lack of trust, commitment, and arguments cause teams to struggle.

He shares knowledge that I think benefits all customer service leaders at all different levels, from learning to unify your teams and build trust, extracting positive outcomes from conflict, and how to use accountability to get team buy-in. Overall, it’s a practical guide that will help you be a more efficient and effective leader of a customer-focused team.

18. Emotional Intelligence 2.0 (2009)

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You're probably already familiar with the concept of emotional intelligence — the ability to understand and manage the needs and feelings of others and yourself and respond appropriately.

This book takes these concepts further, with authors Travis Bradberry, Jean Greaves, and Patrick Lencioni providing helpful tools, tips, and frameworks for building your emotional intelligence components.

A unique aspect of the book that factors heavily into my recommendation is that it includes an interactive quiz to identify your strengths and areas for improvement, helping you focus on making the biggest impact on your EQ as possible.

19. The Hard Truth About Soft Skills: Workplace Lessons Smart People Wish They'd Learned Sooner (2008)

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Hard skills are technical skills and expertise, but author and career coach Peggy Klaus argues that soft skills, like workload management, giving and receiving feedback, and even just finding your place in the office, are even more important to career growth.

For service leaders, these skills are invaluable help when it comes to leading a team to meet your business goals and provide excellent service.

20. How to Win Friends and Influence People (1998)

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Dale Carnegie's famous book continues to stand the test of time, and I’d recommend it to anyone brushing up on their leadership and people skills at work or in your personal life.

Below are some of the principles most applicable to anyone building a customer-focused career:

  • Give honest and sincere appreciation.
  • Be a good listener.
  • Make the other person feel important.
  • If you are wrong, admit it quickly and emphatically.
  • Try honestly to see things from the other person's point of view.

Customer Service Writing Books

I’ve been writing for most of my professional career, and it’s likely that you have too. Even if you’re just writing emails, which customer-facing professionals do a lot of, it’s always important to have a few skills in your back pocket before you press “send.”

21. Everybody Writes: Your Go-to Guide to Creating Ridiculously Good Content (2016)

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Author Ann Handley's book is my blogging must-read — in fact, it sat on my desk at work for quite a while. I find her actionable tips and guides easy to implement in day-to-day writing, as well as in content creation (for example, if you write knowledge guide content or blog posts for a customer blog).

The book is made up of 74 short chapters, so it‘s easy to flip through while you’re writing different things. Her suggestions for writing social media copy are particularly helpful — and she encourages adjusting tone and content for each platform and use case.

22. May I Have Your Attention, Please? Your Guide to Business Writing That Charms, Captivates and Converts (2016)

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According to author Mish Slade, business writing doesn't have to be boring. (I completely agree). This book provides a ton of ideas and techniques for making every single word of your copy remarkable — from your website to your social channels to your emails.

Slade’s tips are specifically about trying to read customers‘ minds — to answer their questions clearly and concisely, which is why they’re likely looking at your website in the first place. Tips for clarity and writing with enthusiasm will be of particular use for customer service professionals writing social media customer service copy, or knowledge base content.

23. On Writing Well: The Classic Guide to Writing Nonfiction (2016)

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A staple for any nonfiction writer, this book by William Zinsser teaches readers that everyone can learn to write well — and that the keys to writing well are communicating authentic personality and helpful information. The principles in this book will teach readers how to write clearly and effectively to share important information while still being engaging and creative in the process.

Regardless of who you’re writing to, Zinsser’s tips will help you craft sentences that make an impact.

24. Several Short Sentences About Writing (2013)

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Another quick-hits read, author and New York Times editorial board member Verlyn Klinkenborg breaks down the minutiae of sentence structure to give readers a helpful guide to storytelling. As the title might already suggest, she advocates for writing short sentences to practice writing longer ones so you can write content that's strong, balanced, and not unwieldy.

This helps create reader clarity — which is critical when using writing to educate and communicate with customers.

Customer Service Books for IT Professionals

Information technology (IT) has two applications in customer service: internal support to help teams maximize efficiency with the tools they use to provide service, and external support to customers that ensures the systems they use to get support are as easy and straightforward to use as possible.

Both applications share the same goal: providing and delivering excellent service. Below, I’ll share give must-read books for any customer service IT professional.

25. Age of Invisible Machines: A Practical Guide to Creating a Hyperautomated Ecosystem of Intelligent Digital Workers (2022)

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Tech leaders Robb Wilson and Josh Tyson team up to share insight into how businesses can leverage conversational AI to achieve high-powered growth. They explore how it brings a competitive edge and share strategies your company can implement to “create an ecosystem of hyperautomation.”

While the book is not specifically about customer service IT, I still think it’s a valuable resource for learning how to create and implement tools that your support team teammates can use in their tech stack to satisfy your customers.

26. Digital Customer Service: Transforming Customer Experience for an On-Screen World (2021)

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Offering omnichannel customer service — which includes online methods — is a must for all businesses. In Digital Customer Service, Rick DeLisi and Dan Michaeli write about how digital service gives consumers a less frustrating and effortless way to get customer service on the devices they so often use.

This is a must-read book for any tech-savvy customer service professionals looking to learn more about the digital transformation in customer service, from early call centers to present-day tech.

27. The Phoenix Project: A Novel About IT, DevOps, and Helping Your Business Win (2018)

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I’m including The Phoenix Project in this list because of its unique approach to teaching DevOps principles through a relatable and fictional organization. It’s a great alternative for those who seek a less textbook-feeling resource.

You’ll gain practical insight into aligning IT with customer needs and business goals and how valuable teamwork is between IT and other business teams. While it is a fictional story, the challenges mirror real-world experiences, making it easy for you to apply your learnings to real life and contribute to your organization and customers’ success.

28. The 5 Principles of IT Customer Service (2016)

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Argues that interpersonal skills like empathy, active listening, and pride in your work coupled with technical competence will help you succeed as an IT professional, whether you’re guiding a teammate through the process of setting up an account or fixing a bug on your company’s website that is creating a roadblock for customers seeking service.

29. Customer Experience 3.0: High-Profit Strategies in the Age of Techno Service (2014)

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John Goodman focuses on the evolving landscape of the customer experience in the digital age and how technology now plays a crucial role in service delivery. He shares insight into how expectations shifted, and businesses are now expected to take advantage of tech to enhance experience.

While this book was published in 2014, his explanations of how you can use digital tools to deliver the customer experience and satisfaction that customers always look for are relevant and applicable today.

Net Promoter, Net Promoter System, Net Promoter Score, NPS and the NPS-related emoticons are registered trademarks of Bain & Company, Inc., Fred Reichheld and Satmetrix Systems, Inc.

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