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How to create raving fans
11 ways to take customer service to the next level
The core strategy behind any supreme organization, any company which truly surpasses its competition and creates massive customer loyalty, is to anticipate and meet customer needs in a way that no one else is. These are the companies who know how to create raving fans.
Other companies are making a product or providing a service. Those businesses are the commodities. However when you create raving fans, you are unique; you have differentiated your business by helping your customers solve a specific problem in a bold way. This customer-centered innovation is the key to making sure no one else in your industry even comes close. This is the bedrock principle behind Force #7 of the Seven Forces of Business Mastery: Constantly Create Raving Fans and Culture.
It’s not just about being different, it’s about providing more value than anyone else. You’ll need a real strategy for creating raving fans that goes beyond the typical marketing or business plan. You’ll be rewarded with an organization that can survive and thrive in any economy.
Who are raving fans?
Raving fans aren’t just customers. They are obsessed with your brand or business. They share your products on social media, recommend you to their coworkers and always stick with your brand when it’s time for a replacement or additional service. Raving fans can’t help but tell others about your product or service – with genuine enthusiasm and excitement.
On the flip side, bad raving fans are your enemies. They leave you negative reviews wherever they can, demand refunds or stick you with credit card chargebacks and make your life difficult. Yet this type of fan only happens when you’re not delivering an experience that keeps customers happy. You can still turn them into raving fans with excellent customer service.
Why are raving fans essential?
There is a difference between being a business owner and being a business operator. A business operator juggles a myriad of responsibilities and settles for an adequate pipeline of customers to meet their current profit-and-loss goals. A business owner understands the fact that lukewarm customers will readily desert your brand when a better one comes along. They make the effort to create raving fans out of good-enough customers because these customers will not only stick with your brand – they’ll become brand evangelists who convert others.
Learning how to create raving fans will directly affect your bottom line. It isn’t just your customer retention rate; it’s your raving fan-centered mindset that will truly transform your business. Don’t forget that, just like people, brands have identities that are contagious at all levels, from the CEO to staff to customers. Embrace a fan-centered mentality and watch consumers take notice of the exceptional customer service and spot-on marketing your fan-driven business delivers.
How to create raving fans
Learning how to create raving fans can only propel your business’ success. Here are 11 keys to enlist your customers in telling your story – and ensure that your pipeline is always full of qualified, invested prospects.
1. Know your company values
Your strategy for creating raving fans always starts with your company values. Take the time to determine what they are and how to apply them in order to create not only a culture of raving fans, but also raving fan employees. Then translate those values – which come from discovering your own passions and purpose in life – into an inspiring vision statement that will guide everything your organization does. When customers see your brand, they must know exactly what you stand for and believe in it as strongly as you do.
2. Target the right audience
Most companies do not thrive by targeting their marketing efforts toward the entire world. Your company values will also help you determine which audience segment to target. Who will best identify with your brand and become true raving fans? You can target people by age, geographic area and even their values and lifestyle – for example gardeners or baseball lovers. Create a buyer persona of your ideal target, then dig deeper to get to know them.
3. Really get to know your customers
Once you’ve determined the right target audience, there’s really only one way to create raving fans: you have to get to know them better than all your competition. When writing one of his books on advertising, business guru Jay Abraham realized that a company’s best shot at connecting with almost any market was to know as much about them as possible.
He suggests you read everything they’re reading, understand everything they’re experiencing and do your best to truly live in their shoes. Then, you can uncover their pain points and find ways for your products or services to solve their problems. A true business owner recognizes that their customer’s life is their business life and the only way to grow their company is to know everything about them.
4. Give advice rather than information
In his Strategy of Preeminence, Jay states that most of your customers won’t really know what they want from your product or service. Though they may be aware of their pain points, they likely won’t know what to do about them. That’s why a data dump from you is not effective in creating raving fans. Instead, you need to take on the role of a compassionate authoritarian. Don’t tell them what you do and hope they’ll figure out how it applies to their own lives. Tell them exactly what to do with your products or services to put them one step ahead of others.
Connect the dots, give them a plan and help them take the logical and obvious next steps. Not only will you discover how to create raving fans, you’ll also develop a reputation of being an innovative leader in your industry.
5. Deliver more than you promise
You will always need to promote your product or service, but as you convert your prospects into customers and, in turn, convert customers into raving fans, give more value than they expect. Surprise and delight them with added value, and they will reciprocate in kind, sharing stories of your terrific service with their friends and contacts – who are then primed to become your next customers.
6. Move your customers to a better place
Meeting minimum requirements is one way to run a business, and it’s a fast track to failure. You and everyone on your team must be committed to doing the work necessary to learn how to create raving fans. You’ve heard the legendary stories about how companies like Zappos take care of their customers. In order to create raving fans, you must empower your staff to take the initiative and make the on-the-spot decisions that inspire lifetime loyalty. You have to create an innovation culture and structure that allows everyone in your organization to consistently meet your customers’ needs.
7. Reward your best customers
Remember, acquiring a new customer is an expensive endeavor for any business. For most of us, this takes up most of our time, energy and money. An easier way to increase your immediate ROI is to continually better serve the customers you already have, essentially creating raving fans who will then recruit more customers for your brand and your profits will soar.
Use your customer data to identify those who frequent your brand, spend more and refer others; these are your up-and-coming raving fans. Let them know how special they are. Offer them exceptional discounts, special offers and first-priority status to ensure that you don’t lose them to an upstart competitor. Also, your best clients deserve your best offers and personalized communication, so incorporate special perks into your customer reward system.
8. Continually ask customers for their opinions
Innovation is essential today. Your business must continue to evolve to effectively meet your customers’ needs in unique and powerful ways, or you face the certainty that someone else will rise to that challenge in your place. To avoid being disrupted – and instead become the one doing the disrupting – you must evolve.
Ask your customers what they need from you to become raving fans. What is the biggest challenge they are facing? Why is it important that they find a solution? And then figure out how to help them, in ways that they can’t help but rave about to others.
9. Run your business in an open, transparent way
Running your business in an open, transparent way is a matter of basic, bottom-line business ethics. Without this piece in place, you will never retain customers, much less succeed at understanding how to create raving fans. Incorporate transparency into every business decision and operation, and make it clear to your customer base that ethics are at the center of your business model.
10. Create a structure that allows you to consistently meet client needs
Without effective customer-centered systems in place, customer service will remain a theory and never truly be a fact. When creating raving fans, you must make sure that your business meets customer needs at every point of contact. Enroll your entire organization in creating and maintaining the structure and systems necessary to deliver the ultimate customer experience every time.
11. Give back in multiple ways
In today’s day and age, people are increasingly aware of the social impact of their purchasing decisions. When creating raving fans of your product, acknowledge this trend and give back: to your clients, the industry and society as a whole.
The secret to living is giving, and no strategy for creating raving fans is complete without it. Your customers will notice when they see you contributing to something other than your bottom line. Integrate ethical business practices at your organization and be transparent about it. Consider what social value your product delivers and lead with that benefit.
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