While not everybody can make The New York Times Bestseller List, everybody is, in a sense, a storyteller. We tell stories every day—about everything from where we went last night to what we had for breakfast.
Savvy business owners, take heed: Very often, those stories revolve around customer experiences.
A clear parallel can be drawn between the customer journey and a literary narrative arc: a prospective client as the beginning, entering your sales funnel as the rising action, spending money as the climax, and finally, after-sale service as the denouement—not an end, but an important series of events that can either move the customer to develop a lifetime relationship, or sever professional ties altogether with your organization.
Your customers will tell their stories in many ways: at the dinner table, on your website, or on social media. These stories can take on a life of their own and impact your organization’s reputation, so you’ve got to keep your finger on the pulse and ask yourself two important questions.
What are the elements of a good story?
Your customers will scrutinize every component of your business, consciously and subconsciously, to inform the stories they tell. One of the most tangible elements that can impact your customers’ experience is the quality of your products or services.
Another important part of their story will focus on their interactions with your employees, ranging from the CEO to a contact center agent. If your customers feel that your company’s employees are well-trained, helpful and have their best interests in mind, it will be revealed in their story.
Another critical component of your customers’ stories is their perception of your organization. Your brand image, built on social and cultural messages, can have a profound effect on how people view your business.
Branding allows like-minded customers to associate their way of life and their personal beliefs with those of your business.
Done correctly, your business can transcend from being a mere service provider to becoming a vital part of your customers’ stories.
This Samsung ad provides a perfect example:
How can your organization drive storytelling?
If your organization is currently the antagonist in your customers’ stories, odds are good that you won’t like the ending.
Not only are you faced with the very real possibility of a Shakespearean tragedy, but your unhappy customers are likely sharing their story, persuading others to avoid your organization altogether.
Fortunately, there are measures you can take to flip the script.
- Your customers’ stories begin with how they find your business. Increase your visibility and make the beginning of customers’ experiences more convenient by improving your organization’s omnichannel engagement strategy. Creating better touch points (email, text, social media, etc.) appeals to a broader base of customers. It also shuttles prospects closer to making a purchase. A strong omnichannel experience guides customers through the sales process by efficiently presenting relevant product information to educate the customer.
- Convenient access to company representatives who can help with product information enables faster conflict resolution, which has the power to transform a subpar experience into one where the customer appreciates quick problem resolution.
- Another way to improve your customers’ story is investing in user experience design for your website or mobile app. Putting time and effort into making your site more readable, navigable and concise will vastly improve customer experiences.
- To truly make your customers feel like your business is a vital part of their life, focus on your brand image. Frame your products or services as an essential part of customers’ lives, empowering them in their pursuits. To further endear your customers, consider taking up a social cause that might be in line with their interests, which according to Pew Research is what Millenials really want. For instance, if you sell hiking shoes, donate a portion of your revenue to an organization that protects wildlife habitats. Your customers won’t think of you as just a shoe company—but rather, a partner that aligns with their personal ethics, passions, and beliefs.
- Customer stories can also be used as the seed of marketing campaigns. Invite people to share their product experiences, so they can cultivate a meaningful relationship with your brand. Over time you will notice a base of motivated customers who are interested in telling your brand story within their own circles. They are invested in your organization’s success, having become, in a sense, part of it.
The stories your customers tell are all about their journey and where your organization fits in. Becoming a hero within their stories requires you to create more engaging, positive customer experience.