Business and Operations
Guest Column: April 2014
By Jeff Mowatt
By Jeff Mowatt
You already know it’s not easy gaining the attention and interest of today’s customer.
You already know it’s not easy gaining the attention and interest of today’s customer. They have so many options of where they can do business that your company can be perceived as a mere commodity. Customers assume that everyone’s selling more or less the same thing, so why not just go with the cheapest supplier? That’s why I share a simple tool in my business building seminars that will help customers remember you. In fact it may be the only thing that makes you stand out from the competition. And it happens to be free.
I’m referring to the way you share your stories – your organization’s story, your product and service stories, and your personal stories.
Your organization’s story
Imagine you’re planning to build a home and start searching for a builder by visiting several websites. Each site features photos of nice homes and nice rooms. You try to find out more about the company and click on the tab, “About Us”. Most of these pages tell you how much these home-builders are committed to customer service and quality. Blah blah, blah.
On another site they tell a short story about how the founders were journeymen carpenters working for various builders. They came to realize how poor the workmanship was and became angry when they were asked to cut corners on quality. They finally got fed up, pooled their resources and started building homes the way they thought they should be built…
Quite the difference with the company that told their story isn’t it? How about your company? Chances are at some point the founders and visionaries of your company realized there was a better way to do something. That’s the story your website should be telling customers. It gives your organization a human side and, like any parable, tells about your personality and values.
Your product story
Any product can be described by its features and benefits, right? Exactly my point. If a competitor’s product has similar features or benefits to yours, then yours becomes another one. The product is viewed as a commodity where price becomes the differentiator.
However, telling the story about your product will separate it from its competitors. Share the product’s history. What did customers use before it came on the market? In other words, what prompted the inventors to build this better mousetrap? Most, importantly, how did they make this product different? Stories give your product a persona linking customers to the inventors. Keep in mind, people don’t really have relationships with a product. The relationship is with the brilliant inventors who seemed to understand customers’ real needs. Of course, you’re still going to describe features and benefits. The product’s back-story simply makes its features and benefits more interesting and more believable.
Your personal story
In my customer service training sessions, I point out that customers don’t really need employees to provide them with information. Customers can search Google and get thousands of pages of information about anything. Instantly. For free. Information alone is not really valued. So, in addition to knowing the story behind your products, customers are looking for evidence that what they’re buying will do the job.
That’s where personal stories are so powerful. Tell stories about how you personally use the product. Or if it’s a business-to-business product or service, tell about how your other customers use the product and their experience. Be honest – you don’t need to overstate or exaggerate. These stories gives customers something that no webpage or brochure will ever provide. It gives them access to a real person (you) who directly or indirectly uses the product. It makes you different in the mind of the customer and positions you as a trusted advisor.
Stories have been used to influence people since before the existence of the written word. People still crave stories as evidenced by our endless appetite for movies. When told well, they are memorable and draw an emotional response.
Perhaps it is time for customers to hear more of your stories.
This article is based on the bestselling book, Influence with Ease by customer service strategist and award-winning professional speaker, Jeff Mowatt. To obtain your own copy of his book or to inquire about engaging Jeff for your team, visit www.jeffmowatt.com or call 1-800-JMowatt (566-9288).