As a Customer Success Manager, I use my personal experiences to tell a story - in fact I use it in all of my blog posts. Storytelling doesn’t just have to be for famous celebrities or politicians. I’ll share how you can harness the power of storytelling to be a better Customer Success Manager.
What is the purpose of storytelling?
You may not even realize it, but stories are ingrained in our everyday lives. Everything we consume has a story behind it. Think of a few famous brands or athletes such as Apple or Michael Jordan, they all started with an inspiring story. Storytelling transcends all roles and demographics because it evokes human emotion and makes your messaging resonate with your audience. Whether you’re speaking to an intern or to the CEO, you can use storytelling to capture anyone’s imagination and connect with your audience.
It’s a technique that allows you to craft a powerful message that touches the audiences’ mind and hearts. When you use storytelling, you have a better chance of getting your audience to respond, engage or take action. It’s a powerful persuasion tactic because you can create a visual and have them empathize with your pain point. One important lesson I’ve been taught is that people might forget what you said or did, but they will never forget how you made them feel. That’s why tapping into the audience’s emotions is a skillful practice or art, which will help you get very far if executed correctly. So let's get started by breaking down the storytelling process into 4 steps.*
Understand your Audience
When you are crafting your message, be sure to have a clear understanding of who your audience is. When talking to Executive stakeholders, they’re interested in understanding how the product is helping their bottom line. You can share case studies or testimonials on how others were able to see success using the product. For each group of people, you’ll want to customize your message based on what would resonate with them. Below are examples of a few groups of people with whom you can use the storytelling process:
Executive Stakeholders (Internal or External)
Customer Point of Contact (POC)
Find a Challenge
As a Customer Success Manager, you’ll run into common challenges where you are tasked with trying to convince others to take action. It could be working through change management issues with a customer, convincing your Product Team to prioritize a client’s feature request or convincing your manager that you should be promoted. In each of these areas, you want to persuade your audience to understand your point of view. Storytelling is an effective technique that can help you illustrate the challenge and the reason why they should commit to a specific action.
User your Personal Experience
When you are trying to connect with your audience, it’s very powerful to use your own personal experience. It makes you vulnerable and at the same time, makes your message that much more genuine and compelling if used properly. People connect over shared experiences, which is why storytelling helps with all groups of people. Here are a few areas where you can use storytelling:
Customer POC: Use stories of customers that you work with to share best practices on how other customers deal with similar challenges.
Cross-functional team: Advocate for your client by sharing your customer's struggle with the Product Team to convince them on why they should prioritize your client’s feature request.
Recruiter: In an interview process for a company, you could address the question of why you want to join by sharing the pain point that they are trying to solve and how that pain point resonated with you.
Keep it Simple
One of the best approaches to storytelling is to keep it simple. A story does not have to be elaborate or complex with intricate details because your messaging will get lost. It has to be concise and to the point. What do you want your audience to walk away with? What is the moral of your story? You’ll want to use anecdotes from real life situations to get your message to land with your audience.
Customer POC: If your presentation is data heavy, then find a story that communicates the impact of the numbers like in the following example:
The number of products purchased directly helped to reduce our carbon emissions footprint by 20% and helped us to show consumers that we are committed in the fight against climate change.
Cross Functional team: A common scenario that you will run into is having to advocate for the client internally with your team, especially with critical feature requests. In order to paint a clear picture with your Product Team, you’ll want to highlight the client's pain point or the business impact:
The Customer shared that without the automated feature, they have really struggled over the last 6 months trying to manually process 20,000 entries! As a result, they’ve suffered from loss in revenue, 10% staff turnover and lower morale for the team.
Recruiter: When interviewing for a position and you are asked the question of why you would like to work for the company. You can use your experience like in the example below:
My dad had a small business growing up and he always struggled with managing his clients’ information and invoices. I know your software tool would be a huge asset for small business owners like my dad who are looking for better solutions that serve their market.
Keep looking for opportunities to use storytelling in your everyday life and you will see the impact of your words firsthand. With practice, it will become a natural part of your conversations and over time, you too will be able to harness the power of storytelling!
*Resource: Harvard Business Review