The headline for one of my most successful LinkedIn posts in 2021 was “How do we help customers tell better stories about their success when advocating on our behalf?” At the time, I led a Client Success Partner team and needed to prepare for sales presentations on the topic of customer advocacy. The post returned a lot of responses that were very helpful — they shifted how I approach storytelling and advocacy. Here are my five takeaways from that post:
Make the story about a character
When I read Income From Outcomes author Paul Henderson’s comment on my post, “Our champions should not have to tell the success story. We should do that. It’s part of a Hero/Heroine program,” it really stood out to me that stories are not just about the outcome but also character development. As a customer success leader, this idea helped shift my thinking from focusing only on business reporting skills to storytelling techniques for case studies or references in order to make them more engaging with relatable characters.
Ensure you understand the context
Ryan Dillon from “Hot Takes,” an expert in customer education and professional trainer, shared some great insights about “understanding key business success metrics” and “empowering customers to achieve their goals using the products you sell.” This was music to my ears as a CSM (customer success manager), because that’s what we started every engagement by doing—identifying the business goal and aligning our product. This could help me tell the customer’s story of how our company helped them succeed, both internally to the customer’s organization and externally via marketing communications.
Share the journey from before to after
Peter Armaly, VP of Customer Success and industry speaker/writer reminds us in his comments that we should share “the before picture, the journey along the way, and the destination that was reached” which shows what the situation looked like before they first started using the product as well as how things evolved along with an explanation for why this happened; then there’s also ‘a thread’ or empirical proof woven throughout the story, so readers can see exactly what is possible using the product. What a great reminder to keep it simple and not overengineer the story.
Identify the supporting characters
Dave Duke, co-founder of MetaCX and host on the Value Builders podcast offers some insight into how he thinks about “understanding customers’ customer needs better.” He says that one important perspective is ensuring our clients are in a position to serve their customers’ requirements which will help them craft compelling stories for success.
Help the customer tell the story
As customer success consultant Markus Rentsch says, “Another idea is to identify the value your customer realized from using the product and talk about it.” He suggests conversations around changes in results since purchasing the product or work habits impacted because of usage—and even why people may feel differently now as compared to the pre-implementation period and after deployment. We all want to help our customers understand how much they’re valued by providing them with information and insights.
LinkedIn is a great place to find professionals with similar interests. This post gave me some expert advice on how I could improve my story-telling skills and included five important areas that helped me create engaging customer stories. Hope these key takeaways help you:
- Make the story about a character
- Ensure you understand the context
- Share the journey from before to after
- Identify the supporting characters
- Help the customer tell the story
Are you an HR technology customer with a story to tell? I would love to write about it!
I’ll be incorporating these questions in my upcoming research:
- How can HR technology vendors use storytelling to connect with their customers?
- What makes a great customer story?
- Are there any tips you can give for creating a story that resonates with customers?
- What are some of the best ways to use customer stories?
- Can you share an example of a customer story that had a positive impact on you?