Ken Blanchard: Creating Raving Fans

Ken Blanchard: Creating Raving Fans

In 1993, Ken Blanchard and Sheldon Bowles wrote Raving Fans to help companies deliver exceptional service to customers.  They asserted that overall customer service was bad in business.  In fact, customers had been conditioned to expect poor service.  Since they expected to be abused, as long as the abuse was not worse than expected, they would return.  The authors called these customers “satisfied sheep.”  Even though Raving Fans was written almost 20 years ago, its core principles remain relevant today.

Successful companies are obsessed with serving customers (e.g., Amazon, Nordstrom, Zappos, etc.).  They strive to deliver exceptional service to them.  Satisfied customers are not good enough.  They strive to create “raving fans.”  What is a raving fan?  Raving fans are lifetime customers that advocate for you because of the exceptional service that they have consistently received.  Exceptional service to customers is their competitive advantage and part of their culture.  They consider customer service as much of the product as design or packaging.

Three Steps to Creating Raving Fans:

1 – Decide What You Want.  Raving fans are the gold standard of exceptional customer service.  Create a vision of perfection.  Compare the vision against current reality.  The difference is what you work on every day.

2 – Discover What the Customer Wants.  Ask customers what they want.  Listen to what they say and do not say. Alter your vision of perfect customer service against what the customer wants.

3 – Deliver What the Customer Wants.  Exceptional customer service must be consistently delivered to create raving fans.  Exceeding expectations is important, but consistently meeting them is far more important.

Everyone must know who their customer is and how to serve them.  Generally, your customer is the next person in line to receive your work; e.g., engineering to manufacturing to marketing, etc.  Successful companies link customer service (and satisfaction) to performance.  When customers complain or are enthusiastic, you are hearing the truth.  When customers are silent or say fine, you should be concerned.  Fine or silence often conveys a problem.  Focusing on satisfying and servicing customers is profitable.  When employees do it well, reward them.

Successful companies perform well within the boundaries of their vision of perfect customer service.  They know that they cannot be everything to every customer from a service perspective.  In the boundaries of their vision, these companies strive to improve upon what they have decided to deliver.  Customers and issues outside of the boundaries cannot be satisfied.  These customers must be told politely that their needs are not part of the company’s service plan.  Successful companies focus on what they can deliver, not what they cannot.

Successful companies are also committed to actively listening to customers. They know that customers’ expectations and needs change. Consequently, they practice “the rule of 1%.” The rules says, a company can significantly improve on something if it focuses on 1% increments over a specific period of time. For example, if you improve 1% per day, you will be 37X better at it by the end of the year. Successful companies know that if their vision of perfect customer service does not improve with customers’ expectations and needs, they will lose their competitive advantage.

All contents copyright © 2012, Josh Lowry.  All rights reserved.


2 Responses to Ken Blanchard: Creating Raving Fans

  1. Jolene Walsh says:

    Raving Fans is a great book! Nice summary.


  2. Jude Wolf says:

    Tremendous post. Will you please send me an e-mail?


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