Best Face Forward

Best Face Forward by Jeffrey F. Rayport & Bernard J. Jaworski

Technology is taking over front office roles in customer relationship management and sparking a revolution in how firms serve customers and compete with rivals. Best Face Forward offers the truths of this front-office revolution:

  • Firms will no longer conceive of competition as firm to firm or supply chain to supply chain, but customer interface system to customer interface system.
  • There will be no people-less (front) office of the future – the front-office of the future will be people-rich.
  • Management in the future must focus, in large measure, on determining the wise and appropriate division of labor between people and machines.
  • A hundred years ago, managers trained people to do their jobs like machines; now we must “train” machines to do their “jobs” like people.
  • There is alchemy in the combination of people and machines.
  • Every interface is an opportunity for expression of a firm’s brand.
  • Technology is neutral.
  • As we simplify experiences for users, we make firm operations more complex.
  • Every interface system has two faces – one external to customers, the other internal to employees.

Now more than ever, success is based on how well firms manage interactions with customers. Short on appropriately skilled labor and flush with new intelligent technologies, visionary managers are not just outsourcing or sending work offshore for greater efficiency; they are recruiting machines into the workforce for greater effectiveness.

In Best Face Forward, Jeffrey Rayport and Bernard Jaworski argue that as this “front-office automation” revolution unfolds, competitive advantage will increasingly depend on deploying the right mix of interfaces with customers-human, automated, and hybrids of both-to surpass current levels of performance and service. Based on extensive research inside both start-up and established businesses, Best Face Forward proposes guiding principles and a practical auditing tool for determining how humans and machines can best collaborate in mediating critical customer interactions. Far from dehumanizing the workforce, the authors show how this revolution will create a “people-rich” workplace–one that combines the unique capabilities of humans and machines to create a better world for all of us.

Best Face Forward is broken down into an Introduction and 8 chapters:

  • Introduction: an overview of the themes in the Book
  • Interfaces As the New Frontier of Competitive Advantage (1)
  • The Interface Imperative (2)
  • The Front-Office Revolution (3)
  • What People Do Best (4)
  • What Machines Do Best (5)
  • Putting the Amalgam of People and Machines to Work (6)
  • Managing Interface Systems (7)
  • The Interface Audit (8)

Learn more about Best Face Forward, by Jeffrey Rayport and Bernard Jaworski (Harvard Business School Press, 2005).

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