Like many of the other titles in Ken Blanchard’s The One-Minute Manager series, Raving Fans (co-written with Sheldon Bowles) is written as a business fable to illustrate some basic, common-sense methods.
The lesson in Raving Fans is how a manager can lead his division or company to deliver consistently exemplary customer service.
The fable involves Area Manager, who is charged by the company President to improve the company’s customer service reputation, a task which the two previous managers tried and failed (and, it is implied, were subsequently fired). As Area Manager contemplates his challenge, he is helped by a golf-obsessed Fairy Godmother named Charlie, who takes him on a journey to meet other business people who Charlie previously assisted. Along the way, Area Manager learns the three secrets of converting customers to not just satisfied, but Raving Fans.
As with many of The One-Minute Manager books, Blanchard’s and Bowles’ secrets are not so secret, but are often overlooked. Blanchard has a knack of identifying and articulating lessons that on reflection should be obvious, but if they were, everyone would be successful and there would be no need for his books. On that level, Raving Fans succeeds.
The book ultimately fails, however, because the (fictionalized) companies Blanchard and Bowles use as examples of exemplary customer service that are simply not financially feasible. For example, a grocery store offers personal shoppers and a computer system that allows for no checkout lines; a gas station has a team of attendants to service a car while charging the same as the self-serve station up the block. The assumption is that the stores provide such incredible customer service that customers buy enough, often enough, to allow for a reasonable profit. That, however, is not addressed in Blanchard’s and Bowles’ fable.
I can believe the truth of the Three Secrets. I wish, for the sake of the book, that Blanchard and Bowles had chosen more believable examples. As it is, Raving Fans would have been better delivered as a blog post.
Blanchard, Ken and Bowles, Sheldon. Raving Fans: A Revolutionary Approach to Customer Service. New York: William Morrow and Company, Inc., 1993. Print.
Success doesn’t come to you. You go get it.