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November 5, 2010

Review: Raving Fans

by Dan

The first thing I noticed about Raving Fans was how short it is. 132 pages of large fonts and lots of whitespace makes the book appear longer than it is. Many pages are more than half blank. The authors use a parable to help explain their suggestions and, without it, the book could probably be condensed to just a few pages.

That said, the content of the book is good. The basic outline is:

  1. Decide what you want.
  2. Discover what the customer wants.
  3. Deliver the vision plus one percent.

Alliteration aside, I would rephrase these points as:

  1. Envision the perfect customer experience and compare it to reality.
  2. Ask customers for feedback and adjust the vision as appropriate.
  3. Promise only what can be consistently delivered and then make slow, stead improvements.

The most helpful part of the book was the point about envisioning the completed picture before talking with customers, and then using their feedback to make refinements. This idea meshes well with other things I’ve read. It is very hard for normal people (those who don’t spend all day thinking about your product or service) to imagine what is possible. So giving them a context within which to make comments is very helpful.

One bad thing is the examples and situations in the book often seem contrived or unrealistic. I would have liked to see an appendix with references upon which the situations in the book are based. Otherwise, it feels like the authors took their theory and just made up examples to help explain it without any supporting evidence from a real company where their theory had been put into practice.

Overall, I don’t think I’ll be rereading Raving Fans. It’s light on content and most of what I learned can be summarized in one or two short paragraphs.

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