Raving Fans: A Revolutionary Approach to Customer Service


  • Title: “Raving Fans: A Revolutionary Approach to Customer Service”
  • Author: Ken Blanchard and Sheldon Bowles
  • Publisher: William Morrow and Company, Inc.
  • Copyright: 1993
  • No. of Pages: 137
  • No. of Chapters: Not separated into chapters


Readability: 5

Maintains Attention: 5

Applicability of Information: 5


Although this book was published 13 years ago, the concepts that Ken Blanchard and Sheldon Bowles communicate are timeless customer service fundamentals. This book is a terrific resource for those who want to improve the customer service in their organizations. Told as one continuous story line, Raving Fans is a quick read, as are all of Ken Blanchard’s books. The only drawback to the style of this book (lack of chapters) is that when you want to look up the three different secrets to developing Raving Fans, you have to flip through the book to find the pictures that represent the keys.


The story is told from the perspective of a newly hired Area Manager who is never given a name. Under pressure to improve the customer service in his company or lose his job, he is at a loss as to how to begin. This is when we first meet Charlie, the Area Manager’s Fairy Godmother, who is actually a man who got to be a Fairy Godmother under a newly implemented quota system. Charlie’s job is to help the Area Manager understand Raving Fans customer service. (As a reader, it may take a while to warm up to the idea of a Fairy Godmother coming down to help in business matters, so be patient – he grows on you.)

Charlie’s first point is that customer service is often so bad that people expect it. Things like dirty restrooms, late deliveries, lazy staff and cold food are found so often, that it’s considered normal. If a company is trying for “satisfied customers,” they are shooting too low, because people are satisfied as long as the poor service isn’t any worse than expected. One quote that says it all is the slogan that Charlie suggests for companies that don’t have outstanding customer service: “No Worse Than the Competition.”

Charlie teaches the three secrets of Raving Fans customer service by introducing the Area Manager to several business leaders who learned and implemented the keys successfully. Each of the three business leaders introduces one of the secrets. The first is Leo Varley, the manager of a department store. With a personal greeting and a carnation pinned to their lapels upon entrance, a supervised play area for children and an elegant bathroom, the Area Manager is impressed. The secret that Leo teaches the Area Manager is “Decide What You Want,” which is the process of envisioning the ideal customer service situation for your organization.

The second business leader is Sally, a woman in charge of the most popular grocery store in the area. Customers are greeted with valet parking, a walk down a red carpet, and have a computer system at their disposal that organizes their shopping lists in the order items are found in the store (with a map). Judy presents the next secret to creating Raving Fans, which is “Discover What the Customer Wants.” This is the process of finding out from customers through surveys, listening, etc. what they want from the company.

The last business leader the Area Manager meets is Bill, a gentleman who runs several service stations. When Charlie and the Area Manager drove up, several attendants ran out to their car, checked the fluids, cleaned the glass all around, and called the Area Manager by name and chatted with him while waiting for the car to fill up. Bill unveils the third secret, which is to “Deliver the Vision Plus One Percent.” This means to consistently deliver Raving Fan Service. Start small, and when you become excellent in one area of customer service, then add other services incrementally. Always look to improve, but not in leaps and bounds.

Of course, the Area Manager implements these concepts at his business and starts to turn the company around. He is recognized for the results by his own supervisor. Best of all, he always has Charlie to call on if he has questions or runs into challenges.


Raving Fans is a simple book that suggests many strategies that business leaders can learn and implement to dramatically improve customer service. What it doesn’t do is provide step-by- step action plans. However, you can derive the following ideas from the story:

  • Be aware of what your current customers are saying and, more importantly, not saying about your customer service. If customers are not giving you positive feedback, then they are dissatisfied or simply satisfied and will move along to the competition if they find something better.
  • Decide What You Want: As the leader of your organization, take a significant amount of time to create the picture of what fantastic customer service would look like in your organization. Don’t hold back – dream big! Include leadership team members in a brainstorming session, as well. Get buy in from those who will have to implement it.
  • Discover What the Customer Wants: Create a system for finding out what your customers want from your company. They may have terrific ideas, extremely modest ideas, and they mayeven have ridiculous ideas. It’s your job to sift through all these ideas and determine whether they mesh with your own vision. Be open to changing your vision based on the customers’ feedback.
  • Deliver the Vision: Take one customer service idea that you believe can be successfully implemented, and do it. Ensure your staff are trained, and ensure they can do it perfectly and consistently. You will kill customer loyalty if you claim you have some terrific service, but then do it poorly, or not all the time.
  • Plus One Percent: Continually plan the next step. Once one customer service strategy is being done well and consistently, begin implementing the next one. Taking small steps (that one percent) is how to build Raving Fans Customer Service!

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