Gartner Blog Network

Book Review: Who do you want your customers to become?

by Mark P. McDonald  |  December 10, 2012  |  1 Comment

Simple – Powerful – Provocative, simply the best book on customer experience in 2012!

Who do you want your customers to become? is one of those rare books that bridges the gap between current practice and future innovation.  Michael Schrage has taken a provocative and penetrating look at the changing nature of customers, their experiences, technologies and changing markets.  In less than 100 pages Schrage achieves nothing less than a re-orientation and reconnection of innovation, value and customers in a way that every executive can understand and apply.

I know that this book has been out for a while, but better late than never.

This eBook is a must read for any leader, CMO, CIO, etc. as it provides a way for companies to migrate their prior deterministic and control based views on customers, markets, products, services and experiences into a strategy that attracts customers rather than packs channels.  Highly recommended.

Schrage’s central idea is simple.  In a world of increased personalization, consumerization, information and competition, the central question firms need to ask is not who are my customers, but what do I want my customers to become?

That question — the ASK — in the book reflects the reality that “customers do not just adopt innovation, they alter tem, adapt them and are changed by them.”  Those adaptations generally revolve around a common ideal — what they want to become.

Rather than fighting and constantly tinkering to catch up with changing customer expectations, why not orient your customer strategy along those lines — what they want to become in order to tap into their aspirations and evolve with them?

This book contains a simple and powerful idea, one that changes the nature of marketing, customer interfaces and experiences. What makes this book superior is that Schrage then goes onto provide you with questions, examples and tools to re-orient your customer experience around the ASK.

Overall, this has been one of the best business books I have read in 2012.  It is clear, concise, extremely well written, engaging and enlightening.  It also provides a way forward for companies who look at consumerization, scratch their head and have no clear strategy for moving forward.

Highly highly recommended as a great book that you could have easily missed.


Clear, concise and well written.  This book is engaging and I read it in just a few short sessions.  Schrage avoids pontificating about the customer, technology etc. and gets right to the ASK and what it means to the customer and your company.

Illuminating examples that shed light on the ideas as well as help you consider how to implement the ASK in your enterprise.

Positive and negative examples of how the idea of what you customers want to become can work as well as create unintended consequences.

A new view on innovation with a focus on whom it is for, why you do it and what it means to customers and the company.


This is a short eBook (a plus) but it does not allow Schrage to pack in content on other related ideas.  There is limited discussion of organizational impact, changes to marketing, operations or technology.  This is more of a limitation applied given the media than a lack of ideas in these areas as Schrage presents the ideas clearly enough that you can figure much of that out for yourself.

Limited discussion of how you implement an ASK based customer experience, strategy and value proposition.  Again, this is more due to the focused nature of the book, and the support that is there – revisiting the fundamentals – is helpful and actionable.

Additional Resources

View Free, Relevant Gartner Research

Gartner's research helps you cut through the complexity and deliver the knowledge you need to make the right decisions quickly, and with confidence.

Read Free Gartner Research

Category: book-review  customer-experience  digitalization  

Tags: book-review  customer-centric  customer-experience  

Mark McDonald, Ph.D., is a Vice President and Fellow Emeritus in Gartner for General Managers Program.

Thoughts on Book Review: Who do you want your customers to become?

  1. Robyn says:

    I’ve actually read this book. I found it to be a good resource and although it is short in length, it is packed with information. Another book worth mentioning is called, “Green Beans & Ice Cream” by author Bill Sims, Jr. This is a book for business leaders who manage other people. Secondary to that, the audience is salespeople, parents, and teachers…anyone who needs to change the behavior of their followers.

Comments are closed

Comments or opinions expressed on this blog are those of the individual contributors only, and do not necessarily represent the views of Gartner, Inc. or its management. Readers may copy and redistribute blog postings on other blogs, or otherwise for private, non-commercial or journalistic purposes, with attribution to Gartner. This content may not be used for any other purposes in any other formats or media. The content on this blog is provided on an "as-is" basis. Gartner shall not be liable for any damages whatsoever arising out of the content or use of this blog.