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Creating ‘raving fan’ service with customers
Posted 01 - 19 - 2014

Photo: B.J. Wilcox and Jay Thrall, right, serve their customers with smiles at Thrall’s Grocery & Deli. Gary Lee Ashcraft prepares to be a raving fan. (Photo by Bruce R. Partain)



By Kent Hutchison


Successful organizations have one common central focus: customers.


It does not matter if it is a retail business, professional practice, manufacturing facility, hospital, government agency or a mom-and-pop store, success comes to those, only those, who are obsessed with looking after customers. This wisdom is not a secret. Mission statements, annual reports, posters on the wall, seminars, and even television programs all proclaim the supremacy of customers. 


It all starts with determining the lifetime value of your customers. Too often we think of a customer transaction in the moment. Instead we should be asking ourselves:  What is the value of an average sale? What is my percentage of profit margin per sale?  How often does this customer buy from you? What is the typical customer lifespan? How many referrals does the customer give you annually? Lifetime value determines how important it is to make mindful effort to retain and develop existing customers.


Generally speaking, customer service, in a word --- STINKS. 


In my workshops I ask participants, “What message do you send when you create ‘satisfied customer?’”  Responses usually include, but not limited to, “we care,” “quality service,” “customers for life,” and “we value you.”   I respond by saying these answers are all wrong.


When one creates a satisfied customer the message being sent is, “I’m no better than the competition.” We all expect to be satisfied. When we go into a restaurant, we expect to be satisfied. When we go shopping at a retail store, we expect to be satisfied. When we order an item on-line we expect to be satisfied. Satisfied customers just are not good enough. No one walks into a hotel or restaurant and seeks unsatisfactory service or food. We all expect to be satisfied. To succeed, to really succeed, we need to create Raving Fans.


When folks complete the business transaction they should be screaming, “Oh my goodness, you’re not going to believe the level of service I just received.”


I would love to claim credit for this concept, but it the concept belongs to authors Ken Blanchard and Sheldon Bowles; and I am a raving fan of their book, “Raving Fans: A Revolutionary Approach to Customer Service.” This is a must read for any business owner, manager – and even your employees.


The common assumption among many is that the general public is a mindless group of buyers, and with the right advertising and promotion we can sell them anything.   But one must remember that goods are not sold; products and services are purchased.


I go to my local florist not because of her products. Let’s be honest, I can get the similar flowers from a national grocery store floral department. I buy from my local florist because of the service I receive – that special and personal attention. I’m a raving fan of my local florist. The same is true all the places I eat, shop, bank, and stay. I want more than to be satisfied – I want to be overwhelmed by the experience. No one wakes up in the morning and seeks just satisfaction. We all want to be raved over.


So my message to business owners and managers is to stop thinking “satisfied customers” and begin thinking “how to create raving fans.” 


Kent Hutchison is the senior partner with the C.J. Baxter Group, an employee development consulting firm based in Nacogdoches. He is an internationally recognized speaker and workshop presenter. Hutchison is a member of the Nacogdoches County Chamber of Commerce and may be contacted via the Internet at





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