Leadership on Point

Powerful, Persuasive Book Captures New Reality in Customer Care

May 23, 2011 Richard Levin

Book Review: Wired and Dangerous, by Chip R. Bell and John R. Patterson.

Wired and Dangerous, Chip Bell and John Patterson

I have distinct childhood memories of my grandparents sharing the latest news with their neighbors.  I remember my grandmother tapping on the pipes in her apartment to summon her upstairs neighbor to a conversation.  And I recall my grandfather talking to friends over the back fence, and my grandmother chatting with neighbors across their mutual clothesline strung across their backyards.

We’ve gone from clothesline to online in communicating the latest information.  And while my grandparents had the quaint opportunity to share product and service reviews over the back fence, their customer experiences reached a miniscule fraction of the consumers we can reach today with merely the click of a mouse.

Thus is the premise of Chip Bell and John Patterson’s powerful and persuasive book, Wired and Dangerous.  The title is apt.  Today’s customers can bring a business to its knees by virally spreading a negative consumer review online.  Wired and Dangerous is full of real-life narratives of customers distributing stories about their horrific experiences.  But more than that, Wired and Dangerous issues a siren call to the business world: treat your customers with respect, and you will thrive; treat them poorly and you will lose market share and earnings literally in an instant.

What’s striking about Wired and Dangerous, besides its accurately dire warnings in the first part of the book, is its ability to prescribe pragmatically creative ways for businesses to thrive in the new world of customer loyalty.  I’m not sure how many people still read a book from cover to cover; if you are not such a reader, you may be tempted to jump ahead from the problem definition to the prescriptive solution. Don’t succumb to that temptation, because you will miss a lot of valuable information.  You may possibly become impatient as Bell and Patterson continually hammer the point home – customers are kings, and businesses are at their mercy.  At some point, you simply may feel like saying “I get the point already; what do I do about it?”.  If you are a business owner or an employee, I strongly suggest you read the first few exquisitely well-written chapters to get yourself in the right mindset, then proceed to the second half of the book for real-life solutions. Resolutions of our current consumer challenges are finely drawn in innovative, practical answers to fundamental, logical questions.

The biggest attribute of Wired and Dangerous is that its authors definitely know what they are talking about.  In this writer’s opinion, Bell and Patterson are the world’s leading experts on customer loyalty.  So if businesses are going to listen to anyone on this subject, they would do well to pay close attention to the experience and suggestions of global leaders in customer care.  I don’t think anyone knows the subject better, and I don’t believe anyone other than Bell and Patterson has the breadth of knowledge to prescribe workable solutions to a rapidly escalating challenge.

Do I share Bell and Patterson’s assertion that we are heading toward a consumer/business showdown?  Absolutely.  And is it likely that you will, too?   Most assuredly.  All you have to do is think about the indifference with which you’ve been treated in any number of business interactions.  If you can think of just one example in which you walked away from a transaction, felt disrespected, and/or told someone else about your dissatisfaction – especially online – then you will clearly comprehend the exponential impact wired and dangerous consumers can and will have on the psyche of the business/customer relationship.

Wired and Dangerous is a must-read for any individual who leads or works for a business – which pretty much covers most of us.  It is an easy, if scary, read.  And well worth your time.  This is the new world of global consumerism, and Wired and Dangerous is the path to excellence in that new world.


Purchase or read more about this book on Amazon.com.



Review written by Dr. Richard Levin, President of Richard Levin & Associates. He can be reached at rlevin@richardlevinassociates.com.