8-min read
Apr 5, 2023

What it Takes to Turn Customers into Raving Fans

Christina Garnett

Just having customers is not enough anymore. Christina Garnett explores why having fans is better for your business.

If you love an article about hacks, this isn’t it. We’re going to talk about the true constant of business: the power of the customer.

In abundant economic times, it's easy to forget the individual customers and spend your time excited about growth. Still, the next downturn will remind you of the importance of customer care and the flywheel propelled by loyalty and customer connection.

A good product is not enough. Just having happy customers is not enough. Trust and connection are the differentiators in a world that wants your money, attention, and time.

Companies need die-hard fans more than ever in today's competitive business landscape.

These people will choose you repeatedly, promote your company through word-of-mouth, and help you build a strong brand with a steady flow of prospects and customers.

Without other reasons to connect a customer with the brand, it’s easy to make a switch or cut something entirely purely as a line item. Treat your customer as more than a number — they’ll do the same.

Of course, you can't make someone love you overnight. It takes time, energy, and resources — but the returns far outweigh the input.

Customers vs. fans

Your customers are the people who keep your business alive. They buy your products and use your services. A great product and customer service might create a happy customer — but they’re not enough to turn a customer into a fan (more on this below).

Fans will have a level of emotional connection and commitment to the brand. As a result, they tend to be more engaged, loyal, and passionate about the company and its products or services.

While your customer may regularly buy your product or use your service when they have a specific need, your fans are likely to make more frequent purchases and be more willing to try new products or services you offer.

They are often more committed to the brand and its vision, so you have to show ways that you're also committed to them.

What are the benefits of having fans?

While a fan of a company and a regular customer may have some similarities in their behavior, having fans comes with a few benefits companies need now more than ever.

Increased customer loyalty: Your fans are more likely to continue to purchase products or services from your company over time, which can help to increase customer lifetime value and revenue.

Positive word-of-mouth: Fans are often vocal about their support for a company and may recommend it to others, leading to positive word-of-mouth marketing and potentially new customers.

Improved brand reputation: A company with a strong base of fans can develop a positive brand reputation, which can help to attract new customers and differentiate your company from its competitors.

Reduced marketing costs: Word-of-mouth marketing from fans can be a cost-effective way to promote your company and its products or services, reducing the need for expensive marketing campaigns.

Increased engagement: Your fans may be more likely to engage with your company on social media and in your community, or participate in events, providing valuable feedback and insights to help you improve your products and services.

How to turn your customers into your fans

Before we get to the juicy stuff: there is a fundamental level that needs to be met in order for your customers to progress from customers to fans.

Phase 0: a great customer experience. Why? Your customers’ perceptions of you are shaped by every interaction they have with your company — long before they even sign on the dotted line. None of the tactics below will undo a bad customer experience.

As prospects: How did they find you? How did they connect with your team? What was their experience like? Was Sales too aggressive or pushy? Did they feel like the Sales team understood their problem and genuinely wanted to help? Do they follow you on social media and see how you react to other customers?

As customers: Do they know how to reach out and get help if they have a problem? Does the Support team provide timely and polite assistance? Is there a service level agreement (SLA) in place to ensure help is provided in a timely fashion? Do you have de-escalation processes in place should the customer experience continue to deteriorate? Does the help feel human or is everything automated or through a bot?

With these conditions met, you’ll have some happy customers. But, as I hinted at above: a good customer experience does not a fan make.

What does, then? To explain this, I like to refer to the Fan Flywheel.

The Fan Flywheel

The Flywheel Model is about creating momentum for your business by putting your customers at the center of everything you do.

The idea is that by providing a great experience for your customers, they will a) remain customers and b) become advocates for your brand and recommend you to their networks, bringing in more customers, and so on.

Flywheel on how to turn customers into fans


This is all about going beyond an excellent customer experience.

At this stage, you’ll have provided your customers with what they paid for and been available if there was a problem. You can only nail the delight phase if your basic customer experience is right. Just sending merch can't undo lousy customer care and service. It only delights when it's on top of a great customer experience.

So what does surprise and delight actually mean? It's about going out of your way to make a customer feel special.

Have a customer care vision

Is there a company-wide understanding of what delight looks like, or are there silos? For example, if your Customer Support team is incredible, but your customer only gets a response from the Social team if they say something negative, how does that make them feel?

To turn your customer into your fan, you must delight them through every part of your company. The more your team collectively shares a customer care vision, the more likely customers feel connected to your team and brand.

This takes time, but it creates a bond that actively combats any pressure to leave due to price. They won't just be leaving you, but all the relationships they've developed too.

Audit your current delight program

Your current delight strategy might include sending swag and giving shoutouts, but is it enough? It may be time to perform an audit and empathize with your customers.

Find out:

  • How is your delight strategy different from your competitors’?
  • What can you offer that no one else can?
  • Do you need to motivate for a bigger delight budget?

You'll be surprised, but the touches that often mean the most usually don't cost anything. Your customers may love behind-the-scenes access to an event or the chance to talk to the leadership or Product teams. Don't let money be what dictates delight. Be creative and consider what you can offer beyond swag and discounts. The connection can be more powerful than the price.

Assuming you’ve provided a strong foundation through your delight phase, you can take the relationship to the next level through engagement.


Do your customers feel loved and appreciated? You can't expect them to feel that way about you if they don't sense that you feel that way about them. Connection and relationships work both ways.

Cultivating an authentic relationship with your customers and an emotional connection to your brand — one that goes beyond your product — starts with intentional engagement.

Here are some ways to do that:

Get personal: A good customer experience means you likely already know their names, their roles, and their pain points. Really connecting with them goes beyond this. Get to know them on a human level — beyond their role at Company X — to build trust and rapport.

Create a network of fans: Foster connections by putting the most active and loyal customers into their own forum, social media group, or other online space where they can connect with each other and your brand.

Get them involved: Create a program for your fans to show their love for your brand. Give them opportunities to speak at events or create content around their interests that may be related to what your brand does.


The previous phases help your customers realize they can trust you and can be more than just a number. It's this next step that many companies miss.

It's easy to send swag and have a solid customer support structure. Empowerment is when you give your customers a seat at the proverbial table.

Having customers share their stories in reference calls, case studies, as event speakers, and more is the traditional way that companies have made their customers the center of what they do. Still, there are other opportunities your most ardent customers want to do. If you look beyond case studies, you can unlock ways your customers would love to champion you.

Listen to their feedback

You can empower your customers by encouraging feedback. Show that you're listening to their suggestions and concerns by using this feedback to improve your products or services and that you value their input.

Pay them for their service

Your customers may want to become an affiliate for you, write content, or create tutorial videos highlighting their favorite tips and tricks when using your product or service. Create opportunities for them to do this and always reward them for their service or give them perks for their work.


If your company has an education offering, you're in a great position to create free courses to help your customers improve their work or use your product more effectively.

In addition to certifications, you can gamify this process and have those that do the most courses earn some learning points and get access to special perks.

This will make your customers feel more special and become advocates for your brand.

How to measure success

Is the wheel actually spinning?

To measure your success, list your business goals and the metrics associated with each. Then, ask yourself if there are any specific fan behaviors that align with these goals. Is there a way to care for your most passionate fans while driving business impact?

Find the sweet spot and create a mutually beneficial relationship where both your customers and fans feel loved, appreciated, and seen.

As you continually apply force to the wheel by delighting, engaging, and empowering your customers, they will, in turn, become your loyal champions, driving word of mouth for you and proudly declaring that they're a part of your fandom. They will shout your name in spaces you’re not present. They will handle objections from potential customers you have yet to speak to. They will be your not-so-secret weapon.

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