Fanatical Fans

Fanatical Fans

October 17, 2017
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A few days ago, I took to the neighborhood-based Nextdoor app to ask for recommendations for a handyman. In response I received so many fervent recommendations that I ultimately had to shut down the discussion so as not to disappoint lots of neighbors by failing to contact all of them. I was struck by the nature of the recommendations. They were not simply that—instead, they were all-out sworn testimony. They consisted of extensive pitches, with copious quantities of examples and pleas, and most of the recommenders even took it upon themselves to try to facilitate the fastest possible connection between their preferred handyman and me. They asked me what I needed, told me what the handyman’s availability was, tried to set up a meeting and more! The one I finally chose was actually accompanied by his recommender for an initial meet and greet at my home!

It was overwhelming, and left me feeling like I was failing those neighbors whose handymen’s (and women’s) services I didn’t utilize.

I was taken aback by the strength and determination of these advocates for their preferred individual or company. And so, I did an informal but extensive review of past threads on the Nextdoor app. I saw the same kind of advocacy about companies and service-people large and small. Whether it was a veterinarian or an exterminator, a Chinese Takeaway or an IT professional. Wow! So many devoted customers. Of course, my next question was: How in the world can a company create truly fanatical fans of its clients, customers or end-users?

Obviously, the answer to that question isn’t going to be a single tip or a specific “fix” that will fit in this short article. But the inquiry is one that every, single entrepreneur of every size organization should grapple with and struggle to answer. That may be the most important question to contend with while creating strategy, training employees, building processes and developing organizational culture. It’s a goal beyond happy customers, or even “delighted” customers (in the current corporate parlance). Fanaticism. The kind of devotion that makes it personal for a client to get their colleagues, friends and peers to use your service or technology. What would your employees need to be thinking, and how would your product development, process creation and operation need to evolve if that were the aim? It’s a pretty good question to ponder as a leader!

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