The social media marketing revolution has made us all aware of the importance and value of customer service and feedback. We know that at any instant, a disgruntled customer or client can blast us on any number of channels, e.g. Facebook, Twitter, Yelp, Foursquare, etc. These diatribes are can be extremely damaging to a brand, especially newer ones. Furthermore, unless you actively monitor your online reputation, you might not even see some of these rants until they pick up steam and it’s too late.
The problem here isn’t that the customers have an outlet, or even that they’ve had a bad experience—the real problem rests with your customer service and its failure to create the right type of raving fan.
What is a raving fan?
Ken Blanchard coined the term “raving fan” to describe a customer who is so overwhelmed and floored by the customer service they’ve received that they can’t stop telling everyone about it. Without going into a book analysis, the problem is clear: there can be two types of raving fans.
Bad raving fans come from bad customer service
The first is the one that we want to avoid: the raving fan that is raving mad. You might remember when a Domino’s pizza customer posted a receipt online that had racist remarks about her appearance. Or perhaps the uproar Morton’s Steakhouse endured after demanding that a cancer patient remove his hat while dining. These incidents created a backlash that were damaging to both company’s business and brand reputation. The social media fires that had to be extinguished were enormous. While these examples are obvious and appalling, the heart of the issue remains the same; if angry customers are a result of poor customer service. Of course, there’s also the customer service that makes you say, “meh” and not think twice about it, but that’s a mediocre non-accomplishment. These customers won’t be spreading any word—good or bad—about your business and if your competition has better customer service, you won’t have those customers for long.
How to create good raving fans with legendary customer service
The goal then becomes to create raving fans that can’t stop talking to their friends, family, peers, and co-workers about the amazing customer service and overall experience they had with your business. By combining word of mouth virality with internet shareability, you’ll see a boost in your brand recognition, sales, and overall reception to marketing efforts that will make your budget seem a whole lot comfier than before.
So how do you do that?
1. Create a vision for your business and actively pursue it.
Failing businesses have no vision. Mediocre businesses follow other people’s vision. Successful businesses with raving fans create their own vision and then aggressively go after it. The vision must be all-encompassing and actionable. This simply means that it should be something everyone in your company can get behind and work to make happen. A good example of this was Microsoft’s vision of getting a computer on every desktop in every home. This created a path for design (affordability, friendliness, compactness, etc.), sales (individual based rather than aimed at large corporations), customer service (focused on homes and families), and so on. It was a comprehensive vision that every department got behind, and one that you probably already know worked well.
2. Make sure your vision aligns with expectations and wants.
The next step is to either align, adjust, or accept your vision as in-line with what your customers want. How? Simply ask them. Social media is a great tool for measuring the wants and needs of your customers, either by examining their “Likes” on Facebook or by asking them to weigh in on status updates. Schedule meetings, conduct surveys, and follow up on customer service issues—whatever you can do to get feedback on how your customers want your company to run will help you align that with your own vision.
Perhaps the most relevant example of this is the Obama administration’s Change.org platform that promises that any petition with enough signatures from the public will receive official consideration and a response from the White House. While not necessarily a social network, Change.org has produced many success stories, which have been shared through grassroots social media campaigns. The definition of “customers” can be wide and far-reaching. This helps the people have a voice and allows them to have a hand in shaping policy (i.e. Obama’s vision of how his “company” should run).
3. Give, then give a little more.
When your business’s vision is in-line with what your customers want, your next step is to deliver on it and then some. Companies that meet expectations don’t “wow” anyone. If I expect a quality birdhouse from you and you deliver, it’s what you were supposed to do. Now, if you went above and beyond, it goes a long way towards creating a raving fan. The key here is “the unexpected gift.” Everyone knows when to expect sales, promotions or giveaways, but when you give your customer a visionary product or service that is in-line with their wants, needs, and expectations and then give them just a little bit more, you’re well on your way towards creating a raving fan.
What are you and your company doing to create raving fans?
This post was originally published by Zopim. Since joining Zendesk, Zopim has been welcomed into our product family as Zendesk Chat, along with a number of treasured belongings.