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Must Reads for New Contact Center Leaders - FCR - Blog

Must Reads for New Contact Center Leaders

I’m actually a little embarrassed to admit that as a contact center leader at a small SAAS start up, I “got by” for a long time on common sense. I remember times I’d be talking shop with other customer service professionals or vendors and I’d have to stop them to ask questions like, “what’s a service level?” or “what does CRM stand for?” I had no clue what I didn’t know.

Let me just lay out the ground rules for new support leaders that are reading this. The only dumb questions are the ones you don’t ask. And speaking of dumb, my contact center leadership learning curve all started with — wait for it — Contact Centers for Dummies. Actually, there’s some great stuff in that book. That’s about the time I realized that getting by in my role would no longer cut it. I had to learn as much as I could about contact centers, customer service, and customer experience.

In this article I’m going to talk about some of the books I’ve read since Contact Centers for Dummies — and make no mistake — there are a TON of relevant books out there. To make it into this post, however, I of course have to have read it. It also has to be a book that I’ve gone back to multiple times since the initial read. These aren’t just books, they are my manuals and resources for better customer service and customer experience. Here are my recommendations.

Moments of Magic

If you’re looking to get excited about the power of magical customer experience, this is a great place to start. Shep Hyken’s concept of Moments of Misery and Magic is simple and powerful. Each encounter with a customer could go either way and we have the power to turn that into a Moment of Magic by delivering better than average customer service. If you aren’t familiar with it, Shep’s Frank the Cab Driver story is a shining example of this principle. In fact, as a customer service leader I would read this excerpt from the book to new members on my team to get them excited about the power of great customer service. As an honorable mention, The Cult of the Customer and Amaze Every Customer Every Time both belong on your shelf.

The Service Culture Handbook

Does your company have a vision for the type of service and experience you deliver to customers? Do all of your employees know what the vision is? Several years ago, Jeff Toister asked members of my team to describe the vision we’d created and he got a wide variety of responses. I was thrilled when he penned this book that contains a formula for creating a vision for your team and getting everyone on board in carrying it out. While you’re at it, Service Failure by Toister is also worth the time.

The Effortless Experience

I’m not sure I’ve ever read a business book that was so gripping that I couldn’t put it down, but this one was close. The Effortless Experience by Matthew Dixon, Nick Toman, and RIck Delisi is a must read for all support leaders. Once you read this compelling case tying customer loyalty to the effort it takes to get problems solved, you’ll immediately begin rethinking your support processes and looking to bolster your self-help resources. I constantly talk about chapter 4 and the concept of Experience Engineering with anyone who will listen.

Be Your Customer’s Hero

This thing I love about this book by Adam Toporek is that it’s broken up into bite-sized customer service lessons. It’s a manual of everything you’d want a front line customer service representative to know about doing their job. I often took it with me into team meetings and we’d read excerpts from it and discuss.

Chief Customer Officer

This book by Jeanne Bliss is an important read for any customer service professional. It helped me understand that customer service is just a small part of the overall customer experience. I began to realize the importance of working effectively with the other departments in my organization to truly become a customer-centric organization. Bliss gives a plan for overcoming the challenges and obstacles that will most certainly arise along the way.

Don’t forget to develop yourself

I’d be remiss if I didn’t also recommend books that have helped me be a better human being, let alone contact center leader. Here are a few that I return to time and time again:

  • The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People - Don’t read this just once.
  • Drive - Understand the importance of autonomy, mastery, and purpose in motivating yourself and others.
  • Strengthsfinder 2.0 - Take the test and build self and other awareness. I’ve done this with my teams.
  • Emotional Intelligence - This changed the way I deal with difficult customers and also my kids.

Again, this is a relatively small list but these are the books I reference and return to often. I’ve reviewed many other great customer service reads over the years on my own blog.

Also be sure to read blogs, listen to podcasts, attend conferences, and patrol social media for other relevant webinars and articles. The more you immerse yourself in this stuff and become an expert in your craft, the better you’ll be.

Finally, this is where I turn the article over to you. If you were on a deserted island and you could only take one customer service book with you what would it be?


Publish Date: December 29, 2017 5:00 AM

2021 Buyers Guide Training


Charlotte Purvis
Charlotte Purvis is a speaker and communication consultant who has influenced an average of one million customer interactions each year for over 20 years. She consults, trains, and speaks on customer service, business communication, and leadership development for global companies, universities, and community organizations. She practices what she teaches as evidenced by nearly 100% of her engagements coming from repeat or referral business.


Call Centers
Contact Centers
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Davis-Mayo Associates

"Service Excellence" Customer Service Training
Live onsite training for your teams. Experienced by more than 450,000 people in 48 US states and 18 countries. No-nonsense approach by our experts with field-test content customized to your situation and using your scenarios.


Happitu is your customer support team’s personal coach. It guides your team through every interaction with custom workflows, responsive scripting, and dynamic help topics. As a result, Happitu slashes training time, delivers higher resolution rates, and reduces handle times.

Documentation in Happitu is automated, detailed, and consistent. Go beyond handle times and service levels with the rich insights of Happitu – from granular interaction data to aggregate data and trends – you get the complete CX journey!

We intentionally built the Happitu Workflow Designer with your customer support team in mind. Using our intuitive tools that provide quick and safe iteration, you eliminate the...
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Lieber & Associates

Training Executives, Managers, Supervisors, and Reps
Lieber & Associates provides training for all levels of the contact center team. The firm customizes its off-the-shelf trainings to meet your specific company needs,

Executive and manager sessions address topics such as customer experience, metrics, technology, AI, and video calls. Supervisor sessions train your leaders to better coach and motivate reps. Phone staff modules include sessions on customer service, order-taking, cross-selling, handling difficult calls, phone "soft skills," and more.

Manitoba Customer Contact Association

Making Training and Development Part of Your Corporate Landscape

Organizations are always on the look out to save money and make more profit. Usually when it comes to crunch time some leaders will scrap training in order to tighten the belt. The downside of this is the cycle it creates.

Because some employers see training as a flexible benefit, employee development is often taken off the table. When employees don’t feel valued it becomes easy to see a revolving door. The constant need to hire goes up which ultimately means costs go up; we know that hiring costs more than retaining the right people.

Start the conversation: Explore our Training Page
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CSAT.AI Scores Better Customer Service with Gamified Guidance!

CSAT.AI lets agents know when they’re on the right track by predicting CSAT scores in real time (when they’re fixable!) - because most customers don’t leave feedback, they just leave.

Agents have the immediate positive feedback that reinforces good behaviors for self training.

OMNI HR Consulting (Pty) Ltd

Human Capital & Organisational Development
Omni HR Consulting provides business and people development solutions through Training and Consulting services.

We work across a number of sectors to provide solutions from both a Skills Development / Business perspective.

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Orion Learning Services Inc.

Learning & Development
Learning & Development for Agents, Supervisors, Managers and Administration/Support Staff

Orion Learning is a global leader in providing accredited learning and development solutions for organizations globally. We offer call/contact center certification programs for Agents, Supervisors and Managers, business certifications and examinations for wide range of topics including project management, change management and service management, leadership soft skills and a full suite of assessment tools which can be used for recruitment, talent management, succession planning and coaching/mentoring. We deliver our solutions to global community and all of our solutions are delivered digitally.


VADS Training Center
PT VADS Indonesia as a Learning Center provides trainers, modules, development programs for individuals and teams. VADS Indonesia owns a vast curriculum for training provided by local trainers with flexible training locations that can be arranged at the client's place or PT VADS Learning Center. VADS Provide knowledge process, transformation consultancy, customer service training, leadership training, interpersonal development, and training for trainers.

Benefit :
- Customizable training by experienced trainers
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- Improves customer service skills and knowledge

Service Quality Institute

Customer Service Training Programs
We have over 20 customer service training programs you can use on-site. With our technology, we eliminate 95% of all travel expenses for participants and trainers. The design of our programs reduces the training time by 80% which is the most expensive part of training and we eliminate the need for professional trainers and facilitators.

The Forum

Get connected to raise standards. Established in 2000, we are celebrating 20 years of best practice, our community of professionals is recognised as the ‘go-to place’ for innovation in customer operations, from contact centre and digital to field, back office, branch & retail services, working across all industry sectors.

We offer an independent and trusted space for learning and sharing, proud to welcome members are into a thriving and active community to network with other like-minded professionals. Benchmark against the best in class and learn from innovators and pioneers. Our team of independent experts can also offer bespoke advice, consultancy and training. We have helped many organisations develop the capability of their vital support functions.

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