This month we heard a whisper of someone taking a punk beat and applying it to the overblown prod rock of customer experience and we had to find the source. Ian Truscott tracks down the author of Punk CX, Adrian Swinscoe.

Hi Adrian, tell us about your current gig and how you came to be so passionate about customer experience

Hi. I work independently as an advisor, speaker, author (3 books), blogger and podcaster, Forbes columnist and workshop leader in the customer service and experience space.

About 10 years ago I realized that I really don’t like bad service and became frustrated with how many organizations make things hard for their customers to get great service and for their employees to deliver great service.

As a result and having built businesses and propositions that had great experience at their heart, I started researching and writing about the different ways that companies can employ to deliver better service and experience. 

What’s the inspiration behind Punk CX?

The book is based on the hypothesis that the CX space is becoming more and more like prog-rock in the 1970s i.e. overly technical, too elaborate and complicated, inwardly focused, a little exclusive and in danger of disappearing up its own a***.

Punk rock exploded out of the back of prog-rock with it’s democratic, DIY, back to basics and all heart and energy approach that inspired both a cultural and musical movement and a mindset. It dared to be different and was OK with the fact that not everyone liked that.

Given that, that led me to ask the question: what would a punk rock version of CX look and feel like? That is what my new book is about.

CX space is becoming more and more like prog rock in the 1970s i.e. overly technical, too elaborate and complicated, inwardly focused, a little exclusive and in danger of disappearing up it’s own a***.

What’s your approach to writing? I notice you started this book with a newsletter.

I’ve now written 3 books: the first (RARE Business, 2010) was a self-published anthology of a number of blog posts that I had written.

Those were supplemented with a number of interviews from leading local businesses. The second (How To Wow, 2016) was published by Pearson.

It was a more comprehensive and organized book that attempted to break down the delivery of great customer experiences into bite-sized chunks. It was also published by a large and well-known publishing house and went on to reach number one/best-selling status on Amazon in its category. In doing so it helped me achieve two personal ambitions….get published by a big-name brand and write a best-selling book. Both things made my parents proud 😉 and maybe they would stop asking when I was going to get a ‘proper’ job!

As for my approach to writing, I am continually looking for and developing ideas through my research, writing and podcasting. I then develop these ideas into posts/short articles/presentation and workshop stories. Over time themes emerge from these posts and these are then further developed into book format, whitepapers or frameworks for use with clients.

Finally, as for the Punk CX newsletter, it was actually set up as I was writing Punk CX, the book, as an experiment to socialize and popularise the idea.

I love your prod rock analogy for marketing today “being overly technical, too elaborate, complicated, more focused on itself rather than the audience” – why do you think it got this way?

I think we got too carried away with technology and the desire to turn experience into another discipline that can be controlled, automated, scaled etc etc. We got stuck in a production line/industrial economics mindset and forgot that relationships aren’t built this way. 

 Your book is like an album, with a tracklist and is easy to dip into, if we only had a 3-minute slot what track would you recommend as the most important piece of advice for becoming a punk?

Here’s a track that I really like:


I made up a law: 

The law of three shits.

The original version states: 

Do good shit, 
Keep doing good shit and 
Shit will take care of itself.

A friend suggested an alternative version:

Do good shit, 
Ignore the shit-sayers and 
Shit will take care of itself.

One deals with a lack of discipline and commitment and the ability to be relentless in the pursuit of “doing good shit”.

The other speaks to the social phobia that haunts many organizations, i.e., caring too much about what other people will think.

Which law of three shits, if any, applies to you and your organization? 

Nice! Here on Rockstar CMO we’ve recently been talking about our colleagues outside marketing being part of the band, where do employees sit in your punk CX band?

They are central to everything. They are essential band members that sometimes double as roadies but most of the time they should be fans and it is up to us not to forget that.

You talk about simplification, the book is full of things you suggest we need to focus less on, what one thing would you throw into our special portal to marketing hell the Rockstar CMO Swimming Pool?

Crumbs! The first thing that would have to go in would be broad and general assumptions. Assumptions like….

Customers won’t pay for better serviceCustomers want more choice rather than less millennial customers want digital solutions only and don’t want to talk to people

All of which are untrue.

The American actor, Alan Alda, in a commencement address at his daughter’s college captured it best when he said:

“Your assumptions are your windows on the world. Scrub them off every once in a while, or the light won’t come in.” 

What’s next for you and Punk CX?

More speaking and telling the story of Punk CX everywhere from New York to London to Amsterdam to San Francisco in the next few months. I’m also thinking about putting a ‘band’ together to help me start more ‘fires’. But, I’m not sure who’s going to play guitar, sing or play drums yet 😉 Any ideas?

 Finally – where can people follow you, see you speak?

If you want to see me speak then just ask me to speak. Details about how to get in touch are here:

Oh, and don’t forget to grab a copy of the book (here on Amazon) and sign up for the Punk CX newsletter too.

You can also find out more about me via: 

One last thing – I see that you created a RockstarCMO playlist, here’s the PunkCX playlist: Punk CX playlist on Spotify

Thanks Adrian!

Ready to rock?

Fancy a chat about this? Or maybe we can help with our advisory services or get in touch!


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