Brad Cleveland’s new leadership advice book Leading the Customer Experience: How to Chart a Course and Deliver Outstanding Results is more striking by what it doesn’t do – maybe even more so than for what it does deliver on. For instance, Cleveland breaks everything down into bell-clear, step-by-step categorization, ironically to highlight the fundamental simplicities of ensuring long-term customer satisfaction, and customer loyalty.


Each part of the book, and said part’s select, topical chapters provides a full scale roadmap so to speak – making it regardless if the reader is a seasoned professional, cynical veteran of the workforce, or a bright-eyed and bushy-tailed up-and-comer, just beginning to make their mark in the varying, corporate worlds of work. But it’s how Cleveland approaches his elaborate presentation of the ideas and methods that left a significant impression on me. Many leadership advice books require a certain amount of preexisting understanding, using purposeful and exclusionary word choice, presenting complex ideas not initiated by topically objective description, and all in all feeling like less of an actual entry within the nonfiction category and more something of a showcasing or promotional vehicle for the author. This is reflected by the kind of publications Cleveland’s Leading the Customer Experience finds itself both contemporarily and retrospectively in competition with.

he usual suspects include books like The Art of the Deal and Think Big and Kick-Ass, more respectable and mainstream releases a la Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In and Megyn Kelly’s Settle for More. Ultimately in my view Cleveland comes out the winner not only because of the cultural relevance the tone and pitch of his arguments compliment with respect to workplace innovation, but also because of the fact he writes in colloquial, conversational style. “Organizations need leaders at all levels,” Cleveland writes. “I learned as much about the value of my work from those rough-around-the-edges supervisors I reported to in my first job as I have in any role since then. It’s ultimately what happens day to day, and person to person, that makes a difference between success and failure.” He elaborates, “I encourage (you) to view customer experience leadership as an ongoing pursuit. Understanding the needs and nuances of customers is ever-changing.”


It’s through this kind of direct, almost overly humanistic approach that Cleveland really manages to take an unprecedented swing in this field – literarily-speaking. Like the irony of the concept of success strategy-wise being turned on its head, Cleveland makes his book stand out by keeping things close, concise, and easy to understand. It almost makes everything else feel a little deceptive!

Kendall Townsend