Organizations spend millions in creating content. A key element is content from our customers. It’s usually case studies about how fantastic our products are. How we’ve saved them millions, how they’ve been able to achieve their goals because of the what we’ve provided them.
Alternatively, there are testimonials. Usually we see them sprinkled through web sites, a picture of a customer or a company logo, with a pithy comment about how wonderful our company is, or how great our solutions are.
Often, we have webinars, carefully crafted, inviting our showcase customers to participate. Or we invite them to speak at our conferences, sharing their experience with others.
Sales people love these, somehow they increase our credibility with prospects and other customers. They help validate our solutions and our ability to help our customers.
We carefully curate these to reinforce the key things we want to communicate to our customers.
But, usually, these stories are about us and our products. Of course they represent the customer perspective, and present some of the value they have achieved in using our products. But we rarely get the customer’s stories.
Imagine, if we had the ability to start collecting our customers’ stories. What if we could start getting their perspectives on a number of issues, not just how great our products are, but the things they were trying to achieve, why they are important, the challenges or struggles they faced, where they want to go, what they want to do next? What if they could share less about what they bought, but the process they went through in choosing to make a change? How they dealt with the issues within their buying group, how they achieved–or failed to achieve consensus? What if we could get their stories about where they wanted to go and what’s next for them?
Imagine creating a platform where we can encourage customers to share their stories, good and bad. Imagine what they could learn from each other. Imagine what we can learn from those stories and experiences.
We, sometimes, get some of this through user groups and meetings. But usually the participation is somewhat limited and they aren’t held that frequently. As I’ve hosted and participated in some of these user group meetings, I often hear, “I wish we had more time, I wish we could have covered these topics, I wish we could have heard from more people…” I know we’ve done well, when I hear, “When’s the next meeting?”
Our customers’ stories are valuable–to them, to other customers, to our prospects, to us.
Over the past several months, several colleagues have recommended Storyworth to me. It’s a fascinating tool. Basically, it provokes people to tell their stories, providing the capability to share them with family and friends.
I created a subscription for my mother, and now we are expanding it to other members of our family. It’s remarkable to read these stories, to talk to each other about them, to learn things we may have never known or just never thought to ask.
The process is fascinating. Every week, a question is sent, you spend a few minutes reflecting on it and writing about your experience. Some of the questions that have been fascinating are:
- What is one of the most difficult things you’ve had to do? What was the outcome? (My mom’s story around this was fascinating. It was something I never really knew and provoked more conversation.)
- What qualities do you value most in your friends?
- How do you like to spend a lazy day?
- How did your parents pick your name?
Every week we get questions, we can change the questions, we can create new questions. But what has been fascinating is for us to share our stories with each other. We’ve gained a deeper appreciation of each other and are learning in a way we may not have done before.
As I’ve been going through the experience with this platform, I’ve thought, what if we created a platform to allow our customers to share their stories? Something that enables them to learn from each other and that we can learn about/from them?
There are some things we have to respect in these platforms, issues of confidentiality, some of privacy, and so forth. But these are easily manageable. But think of the power we create in building a community where our customers can share their stories.
Afterword: I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about this with some friends, glad to get into a conversation about how this might actually be implemented. This can be implemented in a variety of intriguing ways.