Raving Fans or Trash Talkers?

Posted on September 15, 2009 by

WHAT DO YOUR CLIENTS SAY ABOUT YOU? Building business is becoming harder and harder. Advertising and marketing budgets seem to be shrinking or even disappearing. Consider building a chain of Raving Fans.
NEW MEDIA REALITIES: This concept isn’t new but the applications of it are. The Internet has changed the environment in which we work. If you have been on Facebook, you probably have seen these. Basically, you can become a fan of a company. I am a fan of Gem Limousine in New Jersey along with hundreds of others. On LinkedIn, you can write an endorsement of a company or a person. In the virtual world, consumers pay a great deal of attention and spend time reading what their virtual friends and strangers are saying about the companies and products that they use. 
Consumers today are the children of the baby boomers. They have grown up with computers and the Internet. They Tweet. Don’t know what tweets are? You are in trouble. If you are in a time warp, get out of it folks. This is your future. I remember reading George Orwell’s 1984 when I was in school and thinking how awful it would be to have cameras on every corner. Run a red light and you will see what Big Brother does to you. Today, when I read the book again, everything that seemed so farfetched is reality. We no longer have money. We have debit cards. If you can imagine it, someone will invent it in the future. Orwell proved that. 
“Raving Fans” is a concept that has been around for a long time but the Internet has taken it to a new level. But the only way for you to create Raving Fans is to deliver exceptional service. The same Raving Fans chain that builds your business can just as fast kill it if you don’t handle situations properly.
Here’s a situation that is not so far fetched. Your limousine breaks down on the way to pick up the bride. You are a two-limousine operator and the other is out on a job. You call all the companies in your area but there are just not any other limousines available. You break the bad news to the bride. Depending on how you handle the situation, she and all of her guests are already on the Internet trashing you, your company, and possibly your mother. If you don’t think it could happen, do a search of your company on the Internet the same way that a potential customer would. Look at what is out there about you. Read all of the reviews of your competitors. You might be surprised at what you find — hopefully, you will be pleasantly surprised.
Bad situations can be turned around. If you read some of the reviews that are out there, you will see companies that have managed to make lemonade from lemons, but you can only do this if you know what they are saying about you.  Take the time regularly to search the Internet and see what is being said. I am a big fan of Craig’s List. I often scan the transport jobs section to see who in our industry is hiring and how they word their ads. I was shocked when I saw a posting telling people never to work for a company because they did not pay their chauffeurs. The Internet is immediate. Yes, the company, once it knew that the posting was out there, was able to get it removed, but it was out there long enough for people to read it and get a bad impression of the company. You really do need to stay on top of the Internet and social media. 
If you think in terms of creating Raving Fans out of every customer and you instill  this philosophy with your staff, you will eliminate the trash talkers. I heard a speaker once from a five-star hotel tell an audience that the hotel will lose money in order to keep clients Raving Fans. It is that critical to them and their reputation. I don’t suggest that you lose money, but rather that a Raving Fan mentality will change attitudes in your business. Try it. 
Side note: If you haven’t read Ken Blanchard’s book, Raving Fans, take a moment and get it. It’s been around a while but the lessons in it are timeless and can be applied immediately to your business.
— Linda M. Jagiela, LCT East Coast Editor
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