Storytelling is as old as speech. Once upon a time, everyone was a storyteller. The storyteller occupied an honored position and his role was very important. Today, the art of storytelling continues as we tell stories to others to communicate with them, entertain them, and pass on information. An experience shared in the right way helps the audience to visualize the story, helps the audience connect with the subject, and will inspire others to share their stories.
Anyone can read a story but, when a story is told effectively, the listeners feel a bond between the teller and themselves, and the listeners can also feel a bond with the subject. Storytelling is an invaluable part of the customer experience. Adding a visual element further enhances the impact of the story.
Stories have an incredible way of connecting people, regardless of location or background. When you share a story about someone else, you show respect for what that person did and you acknowledge the impact that person had. Stories are the way we share our accomplishments with the rest of the world.
On the consumer side, stories are how people share their experiences with a company. When you tell a story about a product/company, you’re giving your endorsement that this is the company to trust and do business with. Word-of-mouth has long been an effective way to sway others’ opinions, and people are all too willing to share their opinions. This is why Amazon, Yelp, and other companies that share customer reviews and stories are so successful. People trust other people who have already had an experience with that company or product; we actually seek out other opinions before we make up our minds. It also goes beyond just the product’s story because we want to know how the company is with customer service, we want to know what the entire experience was like so we know what to expect. We want to make sure we give our business to a company that deserves it, and we determine this through customer reviews and stories.
Our personal stories help establish a company’s brand and reputation as a world-class customer service organization. Companies like Zappos have built their reputation and brand through storytelling. These companies use the actual story of the consumer as a means to show they can deliver happiness successfully. Just providing good customer service isn’t enough these days, it’s about the entire customer experience. The consumer’s stories are a testament to the level of customer service and care they receive, portraying the satisfaction from the entire experience.
Storytelling captures the audience and, if presented well, the narrative is one of the best and most effective ways to convey information. Here are a few things to keep in mind when using storytelling in business to build your brand.
1. Engagement: Keep your audience in mind and address issues or questions they might have to capture their attention. Also, don’t be afraid to let your emotions be a part of the story. If you genuinely care about what you’re saying it’s easy to tell the story. Find the emotional element in the story that consumers will connect with or tell of a situation they can relate to in order to capture their engagement.
2. Realistic: Make sure you’re not embellishing the actual story. Sometimes we like to “spice things up” when we recount stories because we think the story needs more action or colorful language, but the narrative needs to remain accurate to be believable and to come across as genuine.
3. Feasibility and Accuracy: It’s great to set high goals and expectations but make sure you’re not promising something you can’t deliver. Also, be careful not to fall into the trap of “under-promising but over-delivering”–I’m not a fan of the philosophy to under-promise, this sets low expectations and doesn’t stretch you to provide a great customer experience. Instead, concentrate on your values, vision and achievements to portray your company culture and build a better reputation.
4. It’s not all roses: Don’t be afraid to share your failures. Often times, failures and mistakes are when we learn the most. It’s not the fact that you made a mistake, it’s if you learned and grew from the experience, and whether you were able to turn a negative into a positive that resounds with the audience. Maybe there was a problem, but you were able to apologize, recover successfully and still please the customer, turning the situation into a win instead of a loss. Recognizing your weakness and stating how you overcame it shows honestly and humility, and gains consumer trust.
Do you use storytelling as a part of your business culture? Why or why not?