One Person Tells Two Friends: Why it Pays to Harness the Power of Stories

5 minute read

Upland Admin

From the moment we’re born, people tell us stories. Fairytales, fables, tales of derring-do… storytelling can be a magical thing (and a pretty smart way of getting kids off to sleep).

But stories also have a hidden power – they’re a method of sharing lessons, experiences and information in an engaging way. When a group of kids gather round to listen to The Tortoise and the Hare, they aren’t just enjoying a good yarn. They’re learning the importance of why doing things slowly and steadily can be more successful than by acting carelessly and why overconfidence can cost us success.

This is just as true for adults as it is for kids, which is worth noting if your brand is working on its emotional engagement strategy. Jonah Berger, a professor and all-round expert in viral marketing and social influence, has some wise words on this very topic: ‘People don’t think in terms of information. They think in terms of narratives. But while people focus on the story itself, information comes along for the ride.’

Basically, no matter how old we are, stories convey information and help us decide what to do next. It’s why organisations pour so much energy into creating their brand narrative, and it’s why we dedicated Raveolution 2018 to this very topic.

The magic of storytelling multiplication

But the brand story you want to tell isn’t the only one that matters. The stories of people who engage with your brand are crucial, because the information within them can be used to improve and inform everything from your emotional engagement strategy to your workplace culture.

Not convinced? It’s time to think about another storytelling benefit – the magic of multiplication. Brands who can generate positive customer emotion and thus have great stories told about them, like the CX heroes in The Raveolution Edition of The Big Book of Ravers, have the power to create an army of advocates. Think about it this way: if one person tells two friends, and those two friends tell two friends… it doesn’t take much time before the whole town is talking. This is true for customers, employees, suppliers and partners alike, so it’s important to take a well-rounded view of the stories you’re listening to.

Ready to get started? Before you can harness the power of stories, you need to do some groundwork. (Hey, it’s worth it – it took James Cameron over a decade to get Avatar onto our screens!)

Listen up, listen in, let customer engagement begin

To get started, you need to listen up to your customers’ stories. How do they feel about your brand? Do they enjoy their interactions with your frontline agents? Are internal and external processes straightforward, or more frustrating than the plot holes in Lost? This is where listening to the voice of the customer becomes important.

This by itself is a great goal. But as an added bonus, the more feedback stories you gather, the better the stories you can create for the customer… meaning they’ll go off and tell ever more wonderful stories about your brand to the world. All of a sudden, you’re not just listening to the voice of the customer – you’re creating a reputation more impressive than a clean sweep at the Oscars. Execute the right CX strategy, and you’ll capture feedback that allows you to drive changes that benefit the customer.

Once you’ve cracked this, you’ll see a boost in engagement along with Ravers. There’s a number of ways you can capture these stories, from feedback forms to listening posts. The main thing is to make sure you allow customers to speak in their own words, let them share what’s important so you can understand their story on a deeper level.

Holding out for a frontline hero

Customer stories are important, but they’re not the only ones that matter. Everybody who engages with your brand will walk away with a tale to tell, whether that’s employees, partners or even suppliers. Making sure these stories are positive ones can have a number of tangible benefits, from attracting the best talent to better partner relationships and higher customer engagement.

This is why you should think of your employees as the heroes of your story. Often, they’re the ones who’ll be driving your customers’ interactions with your brand. They have the power to make a customer’s story an epic love story or a spine-tingling horror. This means it’s vital that you listen to their stories, too, because keeping your frontline heroes engaged is closely tied to the success of your customer engagement strategy.

Keep an ear out for untold stories

Some stories get shouted from the rooftops. Others echo down through the ages. But many are never told in the first place, which means brands are losing lots of opportunities to gather information about customer emotion and employee sentiment.

These are the stories of the ‘silent shoppers’ (or even the silent employees!), and by their very nature, they’re easy to ignore. However, brands should try to find ways of addressing the silent shopper, because they have the potential to provide insights that are all too often missed. These insights are key for brands that want to understand customers deeper and drive true positive change across their business.

Ready to immerse yourself in the world of CX stories?

Juggling all of this listening with powerful storytelling isn’t easy, but it is worthwhile. So, whatever your engagement strategies are moving forward, make sure you’re harnessing the power of stories. Looking for some inspiration to get you started? Check out our eBook below to better understand the motivations and emotions of the protagonists in your story, be that your customers, employees, partners or candidates…

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