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Book review: RAVING FANS
Raving Fans: A Revolutionary Approach to Customer Service by Ken Blanchard and Sheldon Bowles
This article gives an analysis of Ken Blanchard and Sheldon Bowles engaging book “Raving Fans”. Blanchard brings in a new concept of building what he calls “Raving Fans” customers. In a very readable and understandable form, this book explains the topic in details and in a fairy tale kind of story. The fiction story follows a manager who accepts a new job and on his first day at the job is confronted by a fairy god mother who then guides him through the process of “creating Raving Fans customers” (Blanchard & Bowel, 1993). In a nutshell, the book revolves around the advice given to the manager upon reporting to work on the first day that “good customer service alone isn’t good enough anymore” (Blanchard & Bowel, 1993). To really elevate your organization to unmatched levels of success, you have to learn to create “Raving Fans”. A “Raving Fans” organization stands for a business whose customers are not just satisfied, but are wowed by the quality of product or service delivered and are therefore always talking and telling others about the organization. A “Raving fan” as described in Ken Blanchard’s book is customer who after getting quality service in excess of what they expected, will always be loyal to the organization and will always be excited to talk about the services to others in an enthusiastic manner.
Today, even with so many businesses claiming to be big on customer service, it so happens that there are only a few Raving Fans organizations. Drawing from Ken Blanchard’s book, there are a number contributing factors that set apart a “Raving Fans” organization and those with just satisfied customers. One such factor is failure to come up with a clear vision that centers everything on the customer. Blanchard recommends creating “a vision of perfection centered on the customer” (Blanchard & Bowel, 1993, p.41). Many organizations are set out to achieve the proprietor’s dream or vision which is basically achieved by following strict rules. A raving fans organization is first planned on a vision which is well thought out and aligned on future customer service needs and a model of the same created. The second factor making many organizations ‘just ok’ as opposed to having raving fans customers in their rigidity when it comes to listening and responding to customer needs. Many organizations focus so much on delivering strictly what they set out to do thereby not listening to what customers want. Raving fans organizations are set in such a way that every customer’s feedback is taken into consideration. They listen to what the customer suggests and tries to align that to their vision; if it does fit in they make changes. Such organizations also take into consideration the feedback from employees. Thirdly, many organizations only focus on meeting the minimum requirement to ensure customer satisfaction. This is always set to fail as it doesn’t guarantee customer loyalty, it doesn’t guarantee any referrals, and the customer might get the same or better services elsewhere. Raving fans organizations on the other hand deliver excellent customer service “plus one”. At the moment of interaction the customer, they ensure that wow the customer with the service delivery in what Blanchard called “under promising and over delivering” (Blanchard & Bowel, 1993). This wins the customers loyalty and makes them enthusiastic and is happy to tell others about the organization (Leeson, 2006).
In a society flooded with ‘just ok’ customer service, I was surprised that one could find a ‘Raving Fan’ organization kind of service. I personally had the privilege of being wowed by one such when I least expected. The situation was that I was in need of a banner for an upcoming event so I visited Pixel & Bits Designs. I had to forward my logo to the company via mail, and when I did my file was for strangely corrupted. They informed me this and I resent the logo but it still had the same problem. In a ‘just ok’ customer service, i would be asked to go redesign my logo and send it to them so they can start working on my banner. What Pixel & Bits Designs did is they realized the urgency of the matter as I had no time to have all that done and they redesigned the logo for me at no extra charge and as I waited and had the banner completed before I left. I was wowed by their dedication to do an extra thing for me and you can guess where all my design work and those I have told about it are done.
The main points highlighted in Ken Blanchard’s book which are “decide, discover, and deliver” (Lowry, 2012, can not only be used in an organization setup but can as well be applied to our day to day living. Whatever your occupation is, be it a church minister, a farmer, in friendships, or even a husband/wife, you can train yourself to apply the principles mentioned in the book which in turn improves your leadership skills. First decide what you would like to achieve by coming up with a perfect vision that centers on what the person/people you are dealing with. Secondly, discover what the person/people you deal with want or expect from you and try incorporating that in your vision. Lastly, deliver with 100% perfection what you have envisioned and in addition go a step further. Following these steps religiously and making it a habit in life goes a long way in preparing one for great leadership roles.