Now that you’ve got a new customer, you’ll want to keep them. Fortunately, storytelling can actually help your existing customers make better decisions about how to use what they’ve already bought from you. And it’s in your best interest to help them do that so they become the most satisfied customers they can be.
Here are some examples from the active travel company, Backroads.
Let’s say on a typical vacation trip with Backroads they have three options for each person to choose from for each day’s activity. What decisions people make can have a huge impact on how much they enjoy the day.
For example, on a biking day, if a novice biker chooses the longest, most difficult bike route, it’s not going to work out well. They’ll be overwhelmed, late, and extremely tired when they get back. And if an experienced biker picks the easiest path, they won’t be challenged enough.
So, getting people to make the best decision is critical. Now, the truth is, by the third day, the Backroads leaders know their guests well enough to tell which option is best for each person. But it would be insulting to say to a guest, “Bob, you’re slow, so you should take option #1 today.”
They need a way to help guests make that decision for themselves, but make it in the most informed manner possible. That’s where storytelling comes in.
Let’s say our slow rider, Bob has his heart set on taking the longest bike route today. The leader might share a story about a similar guest last week who made the same choice: “Last week, Sally picked the same route. But she knew it was going to be a long ride for her. So she got up an hour early, skipped breakfast, and headed out a couple of hours ahead of everyone else. We drove ahead and met her at the 15-mile mark and had a muffin and yogurt waiting for her. By 11 am, she was already over the mountain pass and had the rest of the day to make the easy part of the ride.”
That short little story about Sally now helps Bob make a more informed decision about today’s ride. He might choose to pick another option, or he can do what Sally did and leave early. Either way, he’ll feel better about the experience than being told, “Okay, but you’ll need to leave earlier than everyone else because you’re slow.” That statement tells the guest what to do. The story empowers him to make better decisions for himself.
Storytelling can also help the trip leaders emphasize their flexibility by providing a concrete example. For example, they might say something like this: “Last week, we had a guest who was really interested in golfing and fishing even though that wasn’t part of this trip. So on the layover days, he found a local operator who could take him fly fishing. And on a couple of other days, we set up a tee time for him at the nearest golf course. We drove him to the course right after breakfast to get started.”
Compare that short story to just saying, “Hey, we set up a tee time for a guy last week who really loved golf,” or the even less helpful, “Hey, anything you want to do, we can make it happen.” The story’s not only more interesting but gives the guest a concrete idea of how flexible “flexible” really is. If all you give people is a platitude, they don’t really know what to do with it.
If you want to help your customers, in any industry, get the most use out of whatever it is you’re selling, you need some of your own “what’s worked well in the past” stories. Start collecting them when you notice a customer making especially good use of your product or services.
Okay, in the last lesson, we’ll cover a story specifically to build loyalty among your customers, to keep them coming back to you over and over again.