St. Onge Company Links Supply Chain Blog
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Baseball and Business, Fans or Customers?

Did you watch a sporting event during COVID?  Did you walk away with a new appreciation for the fans…any fans? It just wasn’t the same when the games occurred in front of an empty arena.   Now that the fans are back in the seats, you can go to just about any event and with minimal powers of observation quickly realize there are many different types of people in attendance.  For example, most of us have seen “that guy” on tv during the football game.  He has his face painted the colors of his team.  He’s wearing a helmet and shoulder pads, but no shirt.  He’s screaming at anyone that crosses his path or at nothing in particular.  Then in another section you see the group in a luxury box that looks like they are out to dinner and the game is a side event.

The sports term “fan” is derived from the word fanatic and shoulder pads guy is certainly a fan of the team on the field.  If you are lucky enough to know this person at social level it is likely that any small talk or dinner conversation eventually makes its way to “their team”.  This team seems to be all they want to talk about.

Using professional sports as a business metaphor, the team on the field is a “product”.  The fans in the stands are the customers.  The organization that owns and operates the team can be thought of as the company.

In his 1993 book Raving Fans, Ken Blanchard defined his difference between a customer and a raving fan.  He defined a customer as “a recipient of a good service, product or idea”, whereas a “raving fan” is defined as “a customer who is so overwhelmed and floored by the customer service they’ve received that they can’t stop telling everyone about it”.  In our example, the dressed up group in the luxury box are customers.  Shoulder pad guy is a raving fan.  Both are contributing to the company revenue.  The dinner party is contributing more to revenue, but which person would you want to provide as a reference?  Who would you want spreading the word about your company?  (note: ok, work with me and the analogy.  Yes, I know these guys in Oakland and Philadelphia likely give a full opinion and you may not want them talking to prospective clients, but we’re focusing on the passion for the team here.)

Your business, hopefully, has many customers – many satisfied customers.  But do you have any raving fans?  Do you have customers who would tattoo your company logo on their body?  It may make you chuckle at first, but I’ve seen more than one Apple, Ford, and Harley Davidson tattoos.  What is it that makes people so dedicated to a product or service that they want to tell everyone about it?  If you want you and your business to evolve, grow, thrive and even change the world we live in for the better, you’ll want to work on understanding your company and how they can convert customers into raving fans.

The common courtesy and “service with a smile” that we grew up being taught was essential in the 80’s and 90’s seems anything but common these days.  It’s to the point that if you have a good customer experience it stands out.  Now we can get nostalgic for the good ol’ days, but I prefer to see this as an opportunity.  Said another way, it is easier than ever to exceed customer expectations because your competition has set expectations so low.  With just a little effort you and your company can stand above the crowd of competitors.  Return that phone call or email quickly.  Smile and be pleasant.  Be present and listen.  In short, appreciate your customers.

Sports has taught me to appreciate all my customers.  With the current state of “customer service” it is easier than ever to differentiate your business and turn your customers into raving fans.
—Matt Kulp, St. Onge Company

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St. Onge Company is Proud to Have Been Ranked Among the Highest-Scoring Businesses on Inc. Magazine’s Annual List of Best Workplaces for 2023

We have been named to Inc. Magazine’s annual Best Workplaces list! Featured in the May/June 2023 issue, the list is the result of a comprehensive measurement of American companies that have excelled in creating exceptional workplaces and company culture, whether operating in a physical or a virtual facility.

From thousands of entries, we are one of only 591 companies honored.

Click here to see our listing!