When communicators want to get down with the peeps, they hold focus groups. When Alex Frankel wanted to know, he went to work on the front lines. The tales he returned with are more articulate—and, for communicators, more harrowing—than any focus group transcript you’re likely to read.
During a two-year span, the business writer and branding consultant went undercover for the purpose of writing a book, Punching In: The Unauthorized Adventures of a Front Line Employee. He tells about the stress at UPS, the b.s. business model at Enterprise Rent-A-Car, the boredom at Gap, the phoniness at Starbucks and the freedom at the Apple Store.