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Customer First

Customer First
A Mindset That Spells Success in Today’s World

  • Jacqueline P. Mundkur - CEO, The Nxt Levels Business Advisory and Senior Adjunct Professor at NMIMS, School of Business Management, Mumbai
  • Varun Aggarwal - Asia Pacific News Editor at Foundry

July 2022 | 280 pages | SAGE Response
How often have you complained about poor customer experience at a hotel, an airport, with your telecom operator or even with your neighborhood grocery store? Our guess is more often than you would like. 

From the biggest global technology companies to the most customer-friendly brands, there are aspects to customer experience that go amiss despite large budgets or industry best practices. Through 13 relatable stories from Indian businesses, Customer First highlights lapses in customer experience efforts and how these issues were tackled or could have been successfully tackled.
List of Abbreviations
Foreword by Aslam Karmali
Foreword by Dr Monica Khanna
Better Together: The ‘Team’ in Teamwork Theme: Collaborative and Cohesive Approach
Mindset Myopia: Missing the Wood for the Trees Theme: Outside-In and Empathetic Approach
Put the Cart before the Horse: Employee Engagement for Better Customer Engagement Theme: Empowerment Mindset
Secret Sauce: Cook Up Lasting Success through Value Creation Theme: Value-driven approach
Turn Adversity into Opportunity: Walk in Your Customers’ Shoes Theme: Responsive Approach
More Bang for Your Buck: Customer Experience Drives Economic Value Theme: Proactive Approach
Close the Gap: Bridging the ‘Physical–Digital’ Divide Theme: Contemporary Approach
Fast and Furious: Keep Pace with the Customer Theme: Agile and Flexible Approach
Omnipresent: Service Ties That Bind Theme: Integrated and Holistic Approach
Customer Experience Is Everybody’s Business Theme: Ownership Mindset
Through Thick and Thin: The Subtle Power of Strong Relationships Theme: Commitment Mindset
Change Is the Only Constant: Lead It Theme: Constantly Evolving Mindset
Future-proofing and Unlocking Value: Twin Imperatives Theme: Solution-Focused Approach

When the customer comes first, the customer will last.

Robert Half

Post the pandemic, new customer behaviours have forced organizations to quickly pivot and make changes in the way they fulfil the customers’ needs. This calls upon managers to be laser-focused on delivering customer happiness. While the new digital and e-commerce flavour may have challenged the ‘go-to-market’ strategy for many organizations, it does not change the basic fact that customer satisfaction drives the actual performance of the product/service ‘experienced’ by the customer and helps meet their expectations.

What makes this customer-focused book special is that it has been written by a CX practitioner and the situations are highly relatable. Also, there has been a tendency to solve Indian management issues by borrowing solutions and materials from the West. This book scores as it is set in the Indian context and covers current management dilemmas and concerns regarding how to seamlessly integrate and adapt technology into everyday life. The book onboards the reader to core aspects, elements and principles of what it means to be customer-centric, and it achieves that without becoming a textbook. If you are a leader of a team, then encourage your team members to read it too so that they can appreciate your current reality better and synergistically achieve desired results.Finally, as Jim Rohn famously proclaimed, ‘If you make a sale,you can make a living. If you make an investment of time and good service in a customer, you can make a fortune.’

Happy reading!

Ishmeet Singh
CEO, Future Fonterra I Ltd

With recent events keeping employees and consumers close to home, digital interactions continue to climb across all areas of life. There’s no denying that digital is king. Businesses today must make an effort to keep pace with the evolving consumer sentiment, as consumers have become more autonomous and diverse, with multiple alternatives to choose from. Customer experience has always been necessary, but now it is about delighting the customer with a combination of immersive, intelligence-based experiences that will significantly impact customers’ perception of trust and loyalty—making them want to come back to you.

But like the title of this book suggests, to be a winning brand, adopting a customer-first mindset is vital. Customer experience should be a company-wide philosophy. It simply starts by valuing the entire ecosystem of customers, employees and communities. Finally, it takes unwavering commitment and ongoing learning and development to be able to deliver an outstanding customer experience. And once you get it right,then your customers become your biggest advocates.

Sanjay Kaul
President, Service Provider Business, Asia Pacific and Japan, Cisco

I am privileged to write a review of the book titled, Customer First: A Mindset That Spells Success in Today’s World. In a world characterized by ambiguity and volatility, everyday pressures on managers can make them veer off the path of customer centricity. This book will be invaluable for
management students of today who as managers of tomorrow will have to contend with practical realities as they grapple with balancing the needs of successful short-term and longterm successes. Set in the Indian context and with content written after the pandemic, it will be a relevant and useful guide. The correlation of operating from a customer-first mindset is compellingly demonstrated across a wide range of sectors making it an ideal reference for practising managers and management students alike.

Dr Srinivasan R. Iyengar
Director, JBIMS, University of Mumbai

Customer experience is the core of any sustainable business and this comes only when you keep your customers ahead of your business. Every activity in the organization must be aligned to keeping the customer first. Getting a ‘great’ team to work, empathizing with your customers and finding out ways to co-create value are what put your customer first.

This book provides a strong case to get going on this customer-first mindset and bring it to the forefront. The book includes a select set of practices that everyone must follow to get started, and it is a veritable cookbook if you are looking for ways to build a sustainable relationship with your customers and bring them closer to your business. The author shares her two decades of enhancing the customer-first experience to make it a must-read for those who are keen to embark on this journey.

Dr Hory Sankar Mukerjee
Principal, Education, Training and Assessment, Infosys Ltd

This book on the customer-first mindset is timely as it has become increasingly apparent that the customer rules the growth trajectory of brands. As retailers, we have been always conscious that the more customer-centric we are, the more is the likelihood of success in the marketplace. But even so, the question is ‘how’ to execute this faithfully when there are so many contradictory cues and pressures that daily surround us as professionals. This book is invaluable as it addresses the ‘how’ and also introduces practical principles that demystify the customer-first concept which will be of immense use to professionals in practice.

Lawrence Fernandes
Director, Retail Learning and Membership, Retailers Association of India

In a world characterized by ambiguity and volatility, everyday pressures on managers can make them veer off the path of customer centricity. This book will be invaluable for new managers as well as experienced ones who while having the customer’s best interest at heart have to contend with practical pressures as they may prioritize meeting short-term objectives that can make them lose the track of long-term goals. Set in the Indian context and with content written after the pandemic, it covers multiple situations across different sectors such as retail, consumer goods and service solutions. The correlation of operating from a customer-first mindset is compellingly demonstrated as we too in India are grappling with keeping up with customers’ demands yet endeavouring at the same time to stay engaged and relevant. Apart from cases grounded in experience, the chapter-end viewpoints make it an ideal reference for practising managers, be they in customer facing or support roles.

Prakash Dadlani
CX Industry Expert across Retail, Consumer and B2B Sectors

An insightful book that springs out a parallel perspective of traditional customer engagement and a peep into the new age dynamics of the customer rendezvous.

The book portrays an element of intangible and emotional aspects of ‘customer experience’ and ‘customer loyalty’ that is well reflected by the author. It beautifully articulates how the customer-first mindset can be instrumental in bringing sea changes.

From the first page, Dr Jacqueline P. Mundkur and Varun Aggarwal navigate us through the memory lane of how we have witnessed the customer focus since the past two decades in the era of mono or duopolies in India, both in the manufacturing space and the service industry.

In the light of having worked closely with customers most of my work life, I could relate to the evolution of the customerfirst mindset viewpoint and the insights on how it will shape future interactions with the customers, which has become a bit distant in the virtual world.

A customer-first mindset must evolve continuously with Gen X, Y and Z, who have varied and mixed experiences of dealing with these dynamics. The sharp and judicious work by Dr Jacqueline and Varun is a must-read for those who deal with their customers, which almost all of us do in some way
or other. Isn’t it?

Congratulations on the discerning work!

Umar Ali Shaikh
CEO, Atos India Private Limited, Head of India National Business

In the land of atithi devo bhava, it may seem unusual for Indians to come across insight on how to keep their ‘customer first’. The book seeks to ace the timeless and ageless concept of ensuring your customers are always the centre stage and how to manoeuvre your way out of tricky situations with grace and dignity. The authors with their deep knowledge and empathetic outlook are bound to mesmerize you if your life mantra is to ‘be better than what you were yesterday’.

Aashika Jain
India Editor, Forbes Advisor

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ISBN: 9789354794353