A collection of articles written by Customer 1st
Moving Beyond Satisfied Customers to Raving Fans
I have discussed previously the importance of going the extra mile, but what does it actually mean for business organisations? What can we do to ensure that we maintain our base of loyal customers? We know we have to deliver on the promise—delivering to customers just what they have asked for. We also recognise the need to build excellent relationships with customers, making them feel special and valued. Many of us have also learned (sometimes the hard way) that one of the most important aspects of the relationship is how the organisation handles problems and complaints.
I have thought long and hard about different ways of keeping customers loyal. In this regard, the excellent book Raving Fans by Ken Blanchard and Sheldon Bowles took my thinking outside of the box and gave me plenty to ponder. The book includes some true stories that stimulate one's innovative side, and it helps with rethinking an organisation's service vision.
The concept behind the book is to try to turn all your customers into great fans of your brand. This can be done, the authors explain, by first deciding what you actually want to achieve as an organisation. Next, you need to ask your customers what they want. Then everything must be put into place to deliver the vision.
To create a raving fan, you need to exceed on the delivery of your customer service promise. Each and every time customers deal with you, customers need to believe that they can count on you again and again at every touch point. Customer expectations are constantly changing, needs are becoming demands, and so service agility is vital if you want to stay ahead of the competition—which you must do if you really want your customers to become raving fans.
One great example of a company that has created raving fans is O2, the UK mobile communications company. In 2002, BT (formerly British Telecommunications) cast off its mobile phone subsidiary, and it was renamed 02. By 2008, 02 was no longer the unwanted orphan it had once been; in fact, it had surpassed its former parent, overtaking the fixed-line incumbent BT Group plc as the largest UK telecoms provider by connections according to the Office of Communications (Ofcom), the UK communications regulator. The company had achieved 21.5 million subscriptions, or 19.5% of the total, compared with 20.6 million subscriptions to BT's analog and digital lines.
Before 2005, communications companies had not been focused on the customer; there were too many products, too much complexity for customers, complex tariffs, a severe lack of trust, and no one really considered the customer. To address the issues, 02 decided to develop its customer plan—a core business strategy to focus on increasing investment in what customers wanted while reducing investment in products and services that customers did not truly value.
The customer plan included aspects such as:
- Putting the customer at the heart of everything the company does, expressed in a customer promise
- Providing the best range of devices
- Providing great value for customers' money
- Providing a network that customers could rely on
- Giving the services that customers deserve
- Offering easy-to-use products and services
- Providing people who care
- Offering the best place to shop.
The management team of 02 was driven by customer insight. They challenged the market norm, gave customers something they could truly value, and consistently stayed close to their customers to offer what customers wanted. The next stage in O2's journey was to move beyond customer satisfaction to turning customers into fanatical supporters of O2.
How did they do this? First, 02 connected people brilliantly, and then it understood that the company also needed to connect with its customers. The company knew that among the greatest impacts on customers' lives were the people, places, and even food that customers loved. Because 02 wanted to be a brand that its customers would also love, the company developed a credo:
- We love helping customers
- We love making our customers' lives easier
- We love connecting our customers to what is important to them
- We love making it fun
- We love offering great value
- We love making changes for the better.
Notice how emotionally charged this credo is. What a break it was from the predominant industry attitudes of focusing on technology but not customers!
The logic also is that if you become fans of your customers, then they, in turn, will become fans of yours. You can become their brand of choice; they will recommend you to others, and they will stick with you, even when the going gets tough.
Perhaps we should all consider the strategies we could adopt to turn merely satisfied customers into raving fans!