Raving fans
Photo credit: ©istockphoto.com/JoeLena


One of the greatest business management gurus of our time, Ken Blanchard, wrote a book several years ago with Sheldon Bowles titled “Raving Fans.” It was written in the same style as many of Blanchard’s books over the years: almost painfully simple, yet so applicable.

In our businesses, building a following of raving fans is something we all strive for, but it can be easier said than done when it comes to delivering the highest value possible for our customers. However, these raving fans are huge assets to our companies because they will be our best repeat customers and will recommend us to their family and friends.

Recently, I had the opportunity to experience a Raving Fan situation and I want to pose the question to you as a leader of your business: “How do you create Raving Fans when it comes to your products, services and overall delivery process?” We all hear the same things repeatedly regarding good customer service. There aren’t many fresh, innovative concepts and it can begin to sound like a broken record: provide great customer service, take good care of the customer, give them what they want, etc.

These are all true and necessary, but how are you standing out and creating Raving Fans instead of drowning in the sea of sameness?

My wife, the lovely Christy, and I lived in downtown Denver for a month late last year and the Broadway show “The Book of Mormon” had made a limited return to The Denver Performing Arts Center. Tickets had sold out to all the performances in a matter of minutes. Therefore, coming by tickets was not an easy proposition, to say the least. We really wanted to see this highly recommended yet controversial show, so I checked multiple ticket brokers, Craigslist, Ebay and many other sites, to no avail.

While riding the elevator to our high-rise condo one evening, a neighbor informed us that “The Book of Mormon” producers instituted a ticket lottery two hours before each performance where people could enter a drawing for the chance to buy one or two tickets for the low price of $25 each.

We really wanted to see the show, so one frigid Tuesday night we went over to take part in “the lottery.” Personally, I don’t even buy regular lottery tickets and I’m certainly not a gambler (other than in business). But in an attempt to get tickets to this performance, I figured it was worth a shot.

When we arrived at the ticket office, we were in for a quite a surprise, as well as a business lesson. As people began gathering and lining up for the lottery, I couldn’t believe what was happening. Hundreds of people were showing up for this lottery just for a chance to buy a ticket! Let that resonate for a moment. Nothing was free; there were no cash winnings in this lottery. This company was simply providing everyone who was waiting with the possibility of a chance to spend money with them! Wow, this was really happening and we were participating in this madness!


Build your fan base

Think about your own business from a perspective like this. What if you could create so much value in your business that customers were willing to wait outside in cold weather just for a hope to do business with you? We all have customers who are willing to wait for our services or a specific technician, so let’s dig a little bit deeper and see how we can create more of those fans from a systematic approach.

The creators of “The Book of Mormon” mastered three simple but critical key points from Blanchard’s book. They are the same guys who are behind the animated comedy series “South Park” and they know how to build a fan base, even when controversy exists. We probably want to leave out the controversy part, but if we can model what they’ve done and apply Blanchard’s simple steps, we’re far better situated to create the Raving Fans that will help our companies grow and thrive.

1. Decide what you want. This might sound too simple — and it is incredibly simple — but you need to be perfectly clear when deciding exactly what you want. Most business owners don’t have enough clarity about the exact type of company they want to be. I discuss this all the time with my clients. You must know who you are as a business, what specific outcome you want to have, and what types of customers you want to attract and maintain for the long term.

2. Discover what your customer wants. I find that many times we’re a little too scared to ask a customer what he really wants because he might actually tell us the truth. Are we ready to hear what our customers sincerely want? What if we can’t provide it? What if they want quality, warranty, great service and a very low price? That would mean you’d have to communicate your value proposition to them better than you are now, but at least you would know where you stand with them.

It’s important to ask customers about their service experience and be open to suggestions for improvement. This step is not easy for many businesses, but it’s critical to the creation of Raving Fans.

3. Deliver the vision plus 1%. Once you become clear about your company’s identity and what your customers view as a tipping point on the value scale, then you must deliver what you promised. Sure, delivering what’s promised might be enough to say you provide good customer service. In fact, it is probably even enough to get a lot of repeat customers. However, if you can consistently deliver 1% more than what they’re asking for or expecting, a Raving Fan is created.

How can you create more Raving Fans of your company? Develop a strategic plan based on these three principles and you’re on your way to building a loyal customer base. I can’t promise you’ll have customers lining up in the freezing cold for your services, but business becomes a lot more fun, you’ll attract better team members and you will end up with more money in the bank. That’s the value of Raving Fans.