Wed, Dec 10, 2008


Initial Thoughts’¦

What’s a ‘satisfied’ customer?

Possible answers: A satisfied customer is someone who says ‘fine’ when asked ‘how is the food?’ or ‘how was your experience?’ A satisfied customer is one who does not quibble about payment but who tries to get a better deal at a better price somewhere else next time. A satisfied customer is also one who does not expect much from the service provider.

What’s a ‘raving fan’ customer?

Possible answers: A raving fan customer is one who is so devoted to your company products and services that he/she won’t take the business elsewhere. A raving fan customer is one who will sing from the rooftops about just how good your service is.

Do you need ‘satisfied’ customers?

Possible answers: No. Satisfied customers don’t talk about their experience with your service. They don’t ensure they will do business with you by choice next time. Satisfied customers make you unsuccessful in this competitive market.

Do you need ‘raving fan’ customers?

Possible answers: Yes. Raving fan customers ensure business with you repeatedly. They not only use your service but also become your brand ambassador and bring in more customers to your shop. Raving fan customers ensure your success no matter how fierce the competition in the market is.

How do I create ‘raving fan’ customers?

Possible answers: Give your customers an experience that far exceeds, rather blows away, any expectations they might have had when interacting with your business. When the customers start bragging on your company, you’ve created “Raving Fan” customers.

When do customers recommend your service to others?

Customers will rave about your service only if they LIKE you. If they like you, they will merrily talk about it and recommend strongly to others to try it out.

How can I create customer experience they can rave about?

By using the DDD rule ‘“ decide, discover, deliver

Raving fans

Ritz Carlton

Solving a customer’s problem is paramount to the Ritz’s operation. Any employee can immediately spend up to $2,000 to solve a problem without getting anyones approval. A businessman checked out of the Ritz Carlton and traveled to Hawaii to make an important scheduled presentation. Upon arriving in Hawaii he discovers he had left his laptop, complete with the presentation, back at the Ritz. He called the hotel. A housekeeper had found the computer. The businessman needed the computer absolutely the next day. She took the computer to the airport, and she and the computer took off to Hawaii. She didn’t turn it into a vacation, she returned on the next flight back. When her boss ask her why she flew the laptop to Hawaii rather than shipping it, she simply stated that there was less margin for error if she took it there herself.

Inn at the Mill

Randy Chilton was traveling and it was quite late, after midnight.
Randy Chilton was traveling and it was quite late, after midnight. When he checked into Inn at the Mill in northwest Arkansa, he had traveled right through dinner, and he was hungry. He knew with certainty that on his pillow waiting for him were two freshly made oatmeal cookies. It’s a little extra touch they’ve done for years. He was hungrier than that. He was telling the night shift attendant that he had missed dinner that night. He directed Randy to the kitchen, at 1:00AM, where he assisted Randy in making a great late-night snack at no charge.

Sam’s Club

In Sam’s Club recently a customer was looking for a picture frame. He asked an employee and he said he didn’t think they carried them anymore. At least 15 minutes later, a store manager came up to the customer and asked if he was the gentleman looking for the picture frames. Seems they had just gotten some new ones and the prior gentleman wasn’t aware of it. He personally walked the customer to the area and asked him if that was what he was looking for, and was there anything else he could do.

DDD Rule

(from the book Ravings Fans by Ken Blanchard & Sheldon Bowles)

Raving fan customers can be created using the following DDD rule:

Decide what you want to offer to the customers
Discover what your customers want
Deliver the service consistently

D ‘“ Decide What You Want

Decide what you want to offer to your customers. The secret is you to imagine perfection and be perfect. Like a fantasy, paint the picture in your mind what you want your customers to experience.

For example: Each customer will have a shopping assistant.

Once you know what perfection looks like, you will know what your goal is. When you have the vision, bring down the picture from your mind into your organization. This way you will discover the gap between the two to work on.

For example: for every customer to have a shopping assistant, means huge employment costs.

D ‘“ Discover what the customers want

The second secret is to discover the customers’ needs and then alter your vision if need be. Remember, a customer’s needs have meaning only in the context of your vision. Also, you should know when to ignore what the customer wants. How can you find out what the customer wants? By listening:

Listening to customer complaints. For example: ‘I don’t like to leave a voice mail.’ Here the customer is trying to say that he or she would like to talk to an agent rather leave a voice mail for them to respond to.
Listening to what they don’t say. For example: A customer who is served cold food at a restaurant, out of frustration, may not fill the customer service form.

D ‘“ Deliver the vision plus one percent

The third secret is to deliver the vision, AT ALL TIMES. In other words, deliver the vision consistently. Exceeding expectations is important but it’s even more important to consistently meet expectations.

How can you ensure consistency? By creating systems: systems are predetermined ways to achieve results. Unlike rules where the emphasis is on the procedure, systems emphasize on results. For example: you may have a system of providing comparative product information. But the customer agent should be able to judge when the customer has made up his/her mind on what to buy before coming to the store; in such a case the agent must be able to judge which customer wants what kind of information.

Next is continuous improvement. The rule of one percent helps do that. Yesterday’s vision may not be valid today and today’s vision may not be valid tomorrow. For this the vision has to develop continuously and so one percent rule allows you to do that. The rule of one percent allows you to monitor the customer’s needs and alter your direction when they alter theirs.

For example: yesterday I used to give one discount card to every customer but after finding out that the customer’s family also shops at my store, I now give 3 cards to every customer who signs up for availing discounts.

Tools: Assumption-reversals to DECIDE better

Psychologists say our mind makes associations based on experience. These associations in turn act as barriers to the thought process especially when generating new ideas or creativity. For example, when an artist hears the chirping of birds, she imagines painting a tree house for kids in her neighborhood. Whereas when a vet doctor hears the chirping, he thinks of what the mood of the birds could be. So this hampers their ability to think beyond their immediate experience ‘“ a barrier to free flow of thoughts.

Frans Johansson’s recommends the following technique of breaking barriers to idea generation through Reverse Assumptions in his book The Medici Effect:

  1. Think of a situation, product, or concept related to a challenge you are facing, and think about the assumptions associated with that situation
  2. Write down those assumptions; then reverse them
  3. Think about how to make those reversals meaningful

For example, you wish to improve customer service but do not have a novel idea what the level of service should be. First list some of the more common assumptions involved in customer service, and then reverse them.

Assumptions Reversals
Sales people should be given training on how to improve customer satisfaction Sales people should not be given training
Customers buy your product again and again Customers do not buy your product after first purchase
Customers recommend your products to others Customers do not recommend your products

Now try to think of ways you could conceivably build a sustainable process out of each reversal. For example:

  • Sales people should not be given training: Customer delight should be the work culture; customer satisfaction is a minimum requirement. Sales people should be informed and encouraged to give every customer a memorable shopping experience
  • Customers do not buy your product after first purchase: Customers who do not have a requirement or intention to buy still come to the store because they enjoy being there
  • Customers do not recommend your product: Your customer service is such that the customers remember the overall experience ‘“ the ambience, the sales person’s help, information available, recommendations, etc ‘“ instead of the product alone; they recommend the shopping experience

Observational survey to DISCOVER what the customer does not reveal

Observing customers use products or services is found to produce valuable information which may not be captured by asking customers. Watching customers in their own environments using the products or services is important.

The technique involves gathering, analyzing, and applying information gleaned from the observation in the field. This technique is low-cost, low-risk way to identify what the customers are not revealing directly about the company’s product or service. These finding help you learn the customer’s unarticulated needs or customization that they may require to make the best use of the company’s product or service.

Experts in observation can be used for best results.

RAM Rule to DELIVER better

R: define Results, in measurable terms
A: Ask questions to check feasibility of plan and assumptions
M: Monitor the progress closely

Let’s see the details of each as follows.


The ‘doers’ and ‘planners’ must interact to define the outcomes of the initiative or plan. Execution requires the vision of the planners and the knowledge of the doers for success. The two must define the results expected in measurable terms. This will eliminate ambiguities in expectation from the doers and ensure evaluation of performance in an objective manner. Results can be defined by schedules, SMART Objectives, or even a simple checklist.

Tip: ‘increase production’ does not give a clear picture instead ‘increase production by 40% of current production levels’ gives you a reference point and also tells you how your success will be measured. Similarly, ‘increase staff’ may not have much significance whereas ‘hire 30 full-time employees in production by end of October-06’ defines your goal objectively.


Once the results are defined there still remains a feasibility check to assure the expectations are reasonable. Ask questions. Discuss the WHATs ‘“ What options do we have, What will the customer say, What do others do, What’s insane, What’s irrelevant, etc. Discuss the HOWs ‘“ How much time it will take, How many people are needed, How many $$ can we spend, How much loss can be sustained, etc. Do a gut check ‘“ is this reasonable?


Now we have the desired outcomes which have been tested for their feasibility. Assume we start implementing the plan. But how will we know the status at any given time? For that you need to monitor performance. The planners must interact with the doers to know what’s going on, how much progress has been made, are there any obstacles, how to overcome the obstacles and move on, etc. Follow up is important to know things are as per the plan. It helps reallocate resources and fine tune the plan at an early stage reducing losses. It assures continuous improvement!

Tip: Make a checklist of tasks to be done at the beginning of the day and check 15 minutes before the end of the day.


Raving Fans by Ken Blanchard & Shelton Bowles [1]

“The Medici Effect” by Frans Johansson [2]

| More

Tags: , ,

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.