Sunday, March 22, 2015

Book Review: Raving Fans and Gung Ho!

After spending last week with Tony Hsieh's wonderful book about the founding of Zappos, which is all about how to create a billion dollar enterprise by focusing on excellent customer service, I decided to revisit two of my favorite Ken Blanchard stories on the same subject...

Raving Fans: A Revolutionary Approach To Customer Service by Kenneth H. Blanchard

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Raving Fans: A Revolutionary Approach To Customer Service
I no longer know whether I picked up this book and read it because I was irritated by the level of customer service I often observe, or if my irritation is caused by learning from this book how ridiculously easy it is to provide good service.  It's probably a cyclical thing.  This I do know for sure: more than any book I've read in years I want to hand out copies of this one.... not in restaurants or grocery stores.  Those folks tend to provide good service.  I want to hand it out at the hospital, at the nursing home, at the social services agencies where some of my family members have been treated very badly.  These are the places who take their customers for granted... who behave so abominably that one wonders how they can possibly feel any pride in their work. 

Blanchard writes fun fables, that deliver important messages in a spoonful of sugar.  This one comes complete with a golf-loving Fairy Godmother named Charlie, who introduces our open-minded hero to a series of new colleagues who can explain the simple process of ensuring an exceptional customer experience.  As with so much else in life, excellence starts with vision... a vision of the service you want to provide.  It includes developing high-quality, actionable feedback from the people you serve, and committing to continuous improvement.  Easy peasy! 

My two-page summary of both of these books is available for free download here.

Gung Ho!Gung Ho! by Kenneth H. Blanchard

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

One would not expect to find Native American philosophy in a book called Gung Ho! but that is exactly what we have here.  Thought-provoking, applicable, much-needed, and timely philosophy, embedded (because it is Blanchard and Bowles) in an easily-read story.  This time the tale is less fable and more adapted true story of a real-life newbie CEO who is sent to oversee the closure of a factory owned by a large conglomerate.  That is what she is sent to do.  What she ends up doing instead is to turn the organization around and save it. 

Key to her success was energizing the entire enterprise with the possibility that the place could be saved, and that the existing employees could do it.  The spiritual lessons taught by Native American elders paying careful attention to the work habits of squirrels, beavers, and geese infuses the process with life and purpose.  The natural Gung Ho-ness (Gung Ho-nity?) of these species make them great role models for us humans.  I am really glad I learned that.

The subtitle here is illuminating: Turn on the People in Any Organization.  Yes, it can be done.  By you.  Pick up the book (or download my summary and find out how!

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