While it has been more than 20 years since the book was published and much of the business landscape has shifted to the web, the principles outlined in Blanchard’s book remain critical to retaining and expanding any business’s customer base.
Blanchard’s premise was simple: Business owners are responsible for creating good relationships with their customers so that they will keep coming back.
This principle was supported by research that showed that customers who have an emotional attachment to a business are more likely to continue to do business with that business—and also recruit their family, friends and associates to use the business as well.
Putting this premise into the context of web-based businesses, if you can create strong emotional bonds with your customers, you can convert them into “raving fans” who will evangelize for your business to their social media contacts and others.
Boiled down to its core elements, Blanchard’s Raving Fans program can be expressed as three secrets:
Secret 1: Be Clear on What You Do
Decide ahead of time what you want your online business to do then stick with your decision. It’s easier for customers to “buy in” to your business if you offer a consistent brand with every interaction.
If you are too diversified or your brand message can’t immediately be grasped by your customers, they are going to have a more difficult time engaging with your business. Remove any obstacles that prevent your customers from trusting and feeling comfortable with your business during every by being consistent and credible.
Secret 2: Give Them What They Want
The purpose of just about any business is to provide customers with something they want or need. To build trust bonds with your customers, you should strive to continually discover what your customers want and try to find solutions that give it to them.
This requires modifying what your business does based on your customers want. What they want today could be entirely different than what they want next week or next year.
The best way to understand what they want is to continually engage in a dialogue with your customers. In other words, if you want to know what they want, ask them.
Secret 3: Consistently Over-Deliver
To build trust bonds and create raving fans, your objective needs to be to “wow” customers with every interaction. Find ways to deliver more – Blanchard refers to this as “plus one percent more” – than what your customers expect.
When you over-deliver with your customer service, you set your business apart from all your competitors. Your customers will notice that you are going the extra mile to genuinely please them, which is something they probably can’t find anywhere else.
And, this is what causes them to be raving fans and to evangelize for your business to their family, friends, and (most importantly for online entrepreneurs) to their social media contacts, which will enable your business communications to go viral.