The assignment I despised most during my school days was the dreaded book report. Back then it seemed the only thing worse than being forced to read a boring book was having to write a dry thousand-word, chapter-by-chapter summary of it afterwards. I might be so scarred that, even today, if I met a woman named Anna Karenina or a guy named Silas Marner, I’m not sure we could be friends.
So today when I talk with someone about a book, I keep the conversation focused on only what they feel are the key points and highlights. I ask them to share “golden nuggets” that jumped out to them – I don’t burden them with recapping the book in its entirety.
As part of a reseller’s professional development program through Vantiv’s PaymentsEdge Advisory Services, I recently discussed with their staff the customer service classic Raving Fans by Ken Blanchard and Sheldon Bowles. I would not, could not, will not write a summary of that book, but I am more than happy to share the group’s four “golden nuggets” with you.
- “Silence is a message and usually it’s not a good one. When a customer is silent or says ‘Fine’ with a smile, you have to really perk up your ears. You’ve got a problem.”
- “Consistency is critical. Consistency creates credibility. Consistency is key to delivering Raving Fan Service. The worst thing you can do is meet expectations one time, fall short another, and exceed every now and then. To be consistent, you have to have great systems. At the core of every great customer service organization is a package of systems and a training program to inculcate those systems into the soul of that company.”
- “The systems set the guidelines. However, our team members know that delivering Raving Fan Service means sometimes they have to alter the play to better serve the customer and they’re encouraged to do just that.”
- “He knew how to take this vision and turn it into an action plan. Consistency alongside ongoing improvement plus the ability to alter course quickly were keys to creating Raving Fans.”
After our discussion of the book, the team shared some of their specific takeaways – actions they will begin to take or perform better after reading Raving Fans:
- Listen better and make thorough notes during customer conversations.
- Become a more active listener. Ask probing questions to better understand.
- “OK” is a trigger word that we have to serve the customer better.
- Be more mindful of the customer’s needs and wants.
- Follow-up better with new customers to make sure they are taken care of. Note in Outlook calendar to execute this.
- “Wow” the customer – don’t just satisfy them.
- Continually pay attention to the customer experience that is being delivered. The customer experience is not static.
I especially liked that last point – because the customer experience isn’t static, we’d better not be sitting still either. So let me ask: Are you adapting how you serve your customers? Are you offering them new hardware/software options or just the same old, same old? Are you providing important services (e.g. remote monitoring, remote access, gift/loyalty, backup and disaster recovery) beyond your core solution? Are you enhancing your customer service through automation software or are you bogged down by slow, manual internal processes?
If you’re interested in diving into Raving Fans on your own, the group recommended reading the actual book or e-book and not purchasing the audio version, which they described as being “corny” because of the “juvenile acting.”
If you’ve read Raving Fans, I’d love to hear your thoughts on what jumped out to you. Just email me your personal highlights and favorite passages. No book report required, of course.