Long before we started talking about digital customer experience, actually long before the first formal business was established, before the first deal was made, the single most powerful sentence in any language was, “Let me tell you a story.”
Throughout human history, storytelling has been used to communicate the most sacred truths of the collective human experience.
Storytelling is the oldest and most effective form of communication. People tell stories to justify war, inspire passion, ignite romance and, to marketers’ purpose, to change the course of businesses’ history.
Today, corporations have been transformed into brands, which, in turn, are mirrors and shapers of society; and as markets have become conversations and brands are publishers, your customer has become the storyteller.
Every relevant story you hear is a variation on several archetypal plot lines. The best way to make your brand message and customer experience stand out is to use archetypical story themes derived from the experience of the whole mankind.
You can easily recognize Harley-Davidson’s outlaw riders as modern Robin Hoods. And wasn’t Apple just another warrior-like David attempting to defeat a Goliath-like Microsoft by offering the world a superior user experience? You can wear a pair of Nike shoes without knowing that Nike was the mythological Greek goddess of victory, but having linked the Nike brand to a well-known myth is a strategy that worked.
Thanks to ubiquitous smartphone and tablets, you can strengthen your digital customer experience by leveraging technology to tell a powerful story just by learning basic storytelling techniques and crafting them to fit your message.
To properly embed storytelling in your digital customer experience you have to master these 12 elements:
- Explain origins – Origin myths or stories exist in every culture and, at a smaller scale, in every organization. Go back in time and answer the question: where do my company and products come from?
- Define individual and group identity – Look for stories that define how the individual customer relates to your products or to your company as a whole, and look for archetypal foundations for that experience in traditions and folklore.
- Use sound and language to strengthen brand identification – Brands, which once primarily relied on visual elements (logos, signs), must now rely both on sound and language to strengthen brand identification, must use better and more precise writing styles, so for many companies it’s time to replace old fashioned communications managers with creative writers who have a better command of language and are not dominated by corporate processes.
- Make your brand a club that people aspire to join — a club whose philosophy your customers share, a place where they can go to be themselves and to meet other like-minded people, and an opportunity to talk and share their stories.
- Make your story interesting – Interesting words make for compelling stories and conversations. Well-crafted stories that convey trust and reliability become the narrative medium of a very positive bonding experience between your customer and your product. In an increasing frantic modern world, trust is a valuable commodity, as is reliability. A product that reliably makes the customer’s life easier is the trump card when customers are deciding between competing brands.
- Simplify and provide perspective – Stories boil complicated dilemmas down to a list of easy-to-understand precepts. Myths transform complicated themes into easily understandable stories.
- Illustrate the natural order of things – The gods on Mount Olympus understood who was in charge. Today, organizational charts accomplish the same task in your company.
- Concisely communicate complex history – Facts relayed in story form are much easier to understand and assimilate.
- Communicate moral and ethical positions – Stories relay values and help them endure. Cultures use stories to reinforce values and ethical behavior. Link the use of your product to these values.
- Illustrate relationships to and with authority – What happens to those who offend the person in charge? Look back to Greek myths to find out what gruesome fate awaits them.
- Describe appropriate responses to life – These stories tell your customers the benefits they will gain.
- Define rewards, and detail the paths to salvation and damnation – What happens when you sell your soul to the devil? Look no further than Lancelot’s quest for the Holy Grail or the creation of Frankenstein and ground your gamification strategy on this.
To tell your company’s story, internally or externally, keep the following in mind:
- Storytelling provides the deepest connection between two people, between teller and listener, write and reader, your brand and your customer.
- Stories are the ways we make sense of the world and stories give meanings to brands. The challenge for your, like for any brand, is to gain effortless recognition of and identification with its values.
- All economic culture now needs to be about seduction.
- Give your story a human face: customers and employees respond to stories about people.
- Be accurate about your history. It’s okay to embellish, but tell honestly the truth.
- Know your audience. In addition to employees, customers, it might include media, investors, your other stakeholders or your competition.
- Be crystal clear and don’t assume your audience is familiar with your story or even cares to hear it.
- Choose a technology partner that can help you in defining the most relevant use cases, business value, and shape an effective and proven digital customer experience to deliver an immediate and long lasting business benefit.
We’ve entered the Age of the Customer — an era where a focus on customers matters more for you than any other strategic imperative. If you want to be more effective in the way you engage with your customers, you need to tune in to their imaginations.