I had the opportunity to talk to Ken Blanchard yesterday on the topic of customer service and its connection to loyalty. Customer service has always been something he has felt very strongly about. In fact, Ken wrote a book with Sheldon Bowles called, “Raving Fans”. The philosophy of the book is that satisfying customers is not enough, you have to create Raving Fans! Ken says “Raving Fan customers are so excited about you and the way they are treated by you, they want to brag about you and they become part of your sales force”. This point highlights what many experts have indicated, that taking a customer beyond their expectations leads to a loyal customer. It results in the four R’s, Retention, Repeat Business, Referral and Reputation.
Here is what Ken had to say regarding the three secrets to Raving Fan service:
#1-Decide what kind of experience you want your customer to have.
A lot of people think you have to listen to customers first. That is not what we think. We feel that customers have certain things they like or don’t like, but first, you need to know what kind of experience you want them to have. In the 1970s when everyone was doing self service, Sheldon created Domo Gas. The whole philosophy of this Canadian gas station was service. It was like going to an Indianapolis 500 pit stop. About three people in red jumpsuits would run to the car-one pumped the gas, one lifted the hood to check the fluids, and one would give you coffee and a paper and ask you to step out so they could vacuum your car. Domo Gas blew the competition away. When the concept of Raving Fans is put into action, it is very exciting.
#3-Deliver what you promise, plus one percent, because you always want to improve.
So the philosophy of Raving Fans boils down to decide, discover and deliver. Decide what customer service level you are committed too. Great companies decide to take the customer experience to the next level leaving the competition in their wake. They discover what the customers want by making their input and feedback heard and incorporating that into their strategies. Who better to help you with new value propositions than your customers? Delivering what you say you are going to do seems so simple yet many companies fail to live up to their promise. When you do what you say, plus one percent, you gain trust and loyalty, which leads us back to the four R’s.
Thanks Ken for your contribution here and Happy Thanksgiving to all!
This post was written by Fred J. Cuen on November 26, 2008