Creating fans

Published: November 26th, 2003
Creating fans

So what is a Raving Fan? Ken Blanchard says: A Raving Fan is your most valuable asset. He is someone who is so delighted with what you’ve done for her or how you’ve treated him that he raves about you to all her stakeholders. A Raving Fan is a walking, talking, live commercial for you and

your services.

So let me ask you: how many “”Raving Fans”” do you have? Are you delivering the kind of service that impacts people so profoundly that they feel compelled to tell others about how you made them feel? The most powerful form of advertising is simply word-of-mouth. You and I are far more likely to trust someone who we know and like than any TV, radio or press advertisement. Also, it’s a whole lot cheaper.

The more you engage in habitual generosity, the more likely you are to create raving fans. Give, and you will receive the kind of kudos that leads to much, much more business. How many people do you know who give so much of themselves that they consistently create raving fans? If you’re like most other people, you’ll probably struggle to identify more than one or two.

However, here’s a dual warning: Firstly, when you give of yourself, make sure that what you’re giving is relevant and meaningful to the recipient. Don’t gush all over the other person. Don’t “over-engage” her. Pitch your delivery at the right level. This takes empathy, sensitivity and experience. Secondly, don’t burn yourself out or get frustrated when the other person doesn’t seem to appreciate your investment in her wellbeing. That’s why it’s important for your generosity to be genuine and habitual. If it flows effortlessly and authentically, it will keep on flowing.

I always appreciated the kindness of strangers

Be courteous, kind and considerate to strangers. You never know when you’re entertaining an angel. And you never know who is watching.

It was 5.30 p.m. one Thursday afternoon. I was standing in line, waiting to check in for a flight from Johannesburg to Cape Town on a recent trip to South Africa. All of a sudden, I heard a collective moan from the crowd. The flight had been cancelled. Passengers were being loaded onto another plane that was only leaving at 10.30 p.m. instead of the scheduled 6.15 p.m. departure time. Passenger after passenger vented their anger on the ground hostess serving them. One after another, they complained in frustration. I watched her carefully. She never lost her poise or her cool. She demonstrated extreme grace under severe pressure.

I thought she was spectacular and when I finally reached her, I told her so. I said that my job entailed observing how people behave under stressful conditions. I told her that she inspired me because her attitude and service was world class. Well, what do you think her response was? No, I didn’t get an upgrade. Instead, a little tear trickled down her cheek. She could deal with all the problems but she couldn’t deal with a single genuine compliment. One kind word penetrated all the defences impervious to wave after wave of abuse.

So why am I telling you this story? Because, although I didn’t know it, standing directly behind me was the VP, Sales & Marketing, of one of the country’s largest corporations. He saw the interaction between the ground hostess and me, as well as the emotional response I elicited. As we went through security, he told me how impressed he was with what he had just seen. He asked me what I did for a living and when I told him, he asked for my business card. Three months later, I conducted a national motivation and sales program for his corporation to the tune of $50 000.

So what’s the moral of the story? Be courteous, kind and considerate to strangers. You never know who is watching. And you never know when it could be worth $50 000! Being habitually generous and genuine with your compliments pays. So when was the last time that you spontaneously complimented someone? Make sure you do it often, and make sure you do it in front of others.

One last thought: use humour when expressing frustration to frontline service personnel – put yourself in their shoes. And watch the difference it makes to the service you receive.

Mike Lipkin would be delighted to share your points of view. So please e-mail them to me at mike_lipkin@environics.ca.

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