I am one of many raving fans of the public library system. All of the books I want, delivered to my library, for free. They find what I want for me and make it super easy for me to request and pick up my books, no matter how busy they are. And my librarians are really nice.

So when I took out a few books the other day and realized one of my books, Raving Fans by Ken Blanchard and Sheldon Bowles, wouldn’t register in the self-checkout machine, I went to a librarian for help. When she scanned it she said:

“This book actually shouldn’t be in our system anymore. You can actually keep this one.”

Free book. Like free-free.

Yeah, I was pretty hyped about it. And that’s before I even read the book.

Raving Fans Ken Blanchard Sheldon Bowles

Raving Fans claims to be “A Revolutionary Approach to Customer Service”. But just a few pages in you’ll lean that Raving Fans is about a lot more than creating excellent customer service. This book forces you to think critically about the way you want your business to run and then how to turn your customers into raving fans.

Also, this book is written like a piece of fiction. The story is told from the perspective of a new customer service manager who needs to learn how to create raving fans. It’s pretty funny. And it’s an incredibly easy read.

When I think back to the things I’ve been taught about customer service before reading this book, “The Customer is Always Right” comes to mind. Frankly, I think that’s a horrible, blanket approach to dealing with customers.

Advice like that will have you to trying to be everything to every customer—even if that customer isn’t right for you (some customers are not your target customers). Thinking that way will keep you from really putting the techniques in Raving Fans to work for you. And yes, Raving Fans talks about how to think about customers that aren’t right for you.

The idea behind Raving Fans is that it’s no longer enough to have happy, satisfied customers, but that you should instead be aiming to create raving fans out of your customers. My copy of the book was published in the 90s, so if it was no longer enough to just have happy customers then, it’s definitely not enough when you think about the competition that exists in every industry today.

But think about that for a second: Happy Customer vs Raving Fan.

Raving Fan clearly sounds like the winner here, but only if you know what it means to create a Raving Fan. Think about who you are a Raving Fan of. Think about what that person or brand had to do for you for you to be that excited about them.

To create Raving Fans, you have to know what your customers want and you have to deliver on that better than anyone else. And before you figure out what your customer wants, you need to know what you want.

That doesn’t really sound like stellar customer service, does it?

Well, before you can be anything to anybody, you need to know what you can provide. You need to know what your vision is before you can accommodate anyone else’s vision within your vision.

In a very novel-like way, Ken Blanchard and Sheldon Bowes break down the idea of creating Raving Fans into three steps.

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How to Create Raving Fans

Creating Raving Fans Step 1: Decide What You Want

Book quote: “Create a vision of perfection centered on the customer.”

Whatever business you’re trying to create, you absolutely need to visualize how it’s going to work. Think about this from your customer’s perspective.

If you’re going to be creating a cleaning business, what kind of experience do you want to provide to people? Will you only be using natural cleaning products? Will you provide your service at odd hours in order to help customers who work unconventional hours? Will you also offer minor home decoration services? How will all of this be perfect for the customer? How will this solve problems for the customer better than how things are normally done?

Think about the way you want your customers to feel when they’ve finished working with you and visualize all the things you’ll need to do to get them there.

Creating Raving Fans Step 2: Discover What the Customer Wants

Book quote: “Because customers are often so focussed on a specific priority, it’s easy to match up what they want with that area of your vision.”

Once you have the idea of what you would like to create for your customer, you’ll need to learn what your customer really wants. The book has some great examples of how customers keep this information from you and why they keep this information from you.

While this book doesn’t really go into great detail about how to get feedback from your customers in a modern day sense (my copy is pretty old) it does let you know the importance of bringing in useful feedback that you can use to enhance your customers’ experiences. We talk a lot about gathering testimonials and client/customer feedback in Side Hustle Business School, so I’m personally happy to see this advice in Raving Fans.

Creating Raving Fans Step 3: Deliver Your Vision Plus One Percent

Book quote: “The worse thing you can do is meet expectations one time, fall short another, and exceed every now and then. I guarantee you’ll drive your customers nuts and into the hands of the competition the first chance they get.”

Ever hear of under promising and over delivering? Good, because that’s exactly what this is. But, because we don’t want to be everything to everybody (that’s how you become nothing to anybody), aiming to just be 1% better than you were the last time is a reasonable way to increase on your delivery without overextending yourself.

Raving Fans discusses the importance of creating systems and how using systems can help you see how you can deliver 1% more. Very important point: before you can deliver 1% more, you should be delivering your vision consistently.

Now, the book also talks about a lot of these things from the perspective of a company that has a lot of employees. As a side hustler, you probably don’t have (m)any people working for you. That’s cool. You can just ignore the parts about giving your employees promotions and raises based on the level of service they deliver. There’s still a lot to learn even if you ignore that.

The biggest takeaway from this book for any new or seasoned side hustler or new entrepreneur (however you identify yourself) is that before you aim to serve any customer, you should have a very clear picture of what you want the experience you deliver to be. This way, you can consistently create and build upon an experience that creates not just happy one time customers, but Raving Fans who come back time and time again.

I highly encourage you to grab a copy of Raving Fans on Amazon or your local library—as long as your local library isn’t my local library, because we know where that copy went 🙂

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Posted by Naya the Creative

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