Book review: ‘Raving fans’, by Ken Blanchard

Title: Raving fans! A revolutionary approach to customer service

Authors: Ken Blanchard & Sheldon Bowles

Summary:

The authors tell a story in where an Area Manager meets his male Fairy Godmother, Charlie, who shows him the three magic secrets of creating Raving Fans. Satisfied customers aren’t good enough anymore.
The three magic secrets can be described as follows.

1/ Decide what you want. This entails creating “a vision of perfection centered on the customer”, particularly on the moment the customer uses the product. Close your eyes and imagine how your perfect product would be, in full detail… “It was a fantasy and it was perfect. Every detail was so clear in my mind that I felt as if I could reach out and touch it. It was what I wanted. I was the source.” (…) “I know exactly what perfection looks like so I know what my goal is.” Therefore first you need a vision of perfection, and then bring that vision down to the level of what is actually happening in your company.

2/ Discover what the customer wants. “All you need to do is discover the customer’s vision of what they really want and then alter your vision if need be”, as “your own vision has to fill in the gaps.” Sometimes this means telling the customers to take a hike; if you aim to be everything to everybody it won’t work, defining a window in your vision is relevant. To discover what the customer wants, knowing who the customer is goes first (“everyone from the original purchasing agent to the end user”), and then a very sophisticated technique can be applied: “We ask them”. However “you have to listen to the music as well as the lyrics. Often what people really want doesn´t show up directly in what they say. They may even say one thing and mean quite another.” If the message from the customer is silence or when they smile and say ‘fine’, clearly the customer is not a Raving Fan.

“You don’t have two complete visions and then try to make one. It comes together bit by bit. You may have a pretty good idea of your own vision, but you’ll likely only discover the customers’ in small nuggets. These you fit into your vision or reject.” Indeed you should have a pretty clear and complete vision before start talking to customers. To the contrary, customers might not have complete visions and just focus on two or three things, which can be worked into your own vision or rejected.

3/ Deliver what the customer wants; deliver the vision plus one percent. To start with, the author recommends to limit the number of areas where you want to make a difference – this allows you to deliver consistently and concentrate on one customer service goal at a time. In terms of expectations, this reasoning can be summed up as “Meet first. Exceed second.”(…) “The worst thing you can do is meet expectations one time, fall short another, and exceed every now and then.”

Systems are what allows you to guarantee consistent delivery. Systems are not rules that aim to train your employees as robots, they provide guidance on predetermined ways to achieve a result.

Finally, the vision should evolve, as it is not a frozen picture of the future. “The biggest problem I have in delivering my vision is knowing what to do next. Either I try to do too much at once and get frustrated or I sit immobilized because of the size of the job ahead. The rule of one percent reminds me that all I have to do is to improve by one percent. That I can do. If I improve one percent next week and again the week after that, by the end of the year I’m ahead by more than fifty percent.” The rule of one percent allows you to be flexible and develop your vision over time, meeting customers’ needs.

Review:

Easy to read in one or two hours. The storytelling style makes it fun and helps to illustrate the different lessons with useful examples. Rating: 6.5/10

See on Amazon.