Every business wants to hear their customers’ success stories – they serve as sources of inspiration and an excellent marketing tool.
After all, who doesn’t like to know that other people have done what we want to do?
However, getting customers to share their stories with you is not always easy. Here are some ways on how to invite them.
Identify your best clients.
In part 1, we discussed how to identify the best clients based on your target strategy.
Are they contractually bound to provide an endorsement?
Some forward-thinking organizations include clauses in the contract stating the client is obliged to provide an endorsement. While this is not enforceable, it can highlight which clients do not provide any form of endorsement as a matter of principle very early on in the client’s journey- and save you time asking for story requests that are not viable at the outset. Another benefit is that it plants the seed very early on in the client’s mind that a request will be made and you are expected to supply a story in normal circumstances.
Choose the right channel.
Choose the channel most appropriate to your relationship with the client – for most businesses, that is email, but it could be slack, WhatsApp or any other channel.
Send from someone the client already knows.
You’re more likely to get a response from someone in your company known to the respondent. That might be the Account Executive or Customer Success team, depending on your organization. Sending the request from someone closest to the connection has advantages. They will know if there are any problem support tickets or ongoing discussions and that the customer is happy based on the last interaction with the organization.
Send at the right time.
Using the owner of the relationship to send the invite not only lowers the risk of sending the invitation at an inappropriate time, but they will also know if they are suitable in terms of the quality of results they have achieved. Train your customer-facing teams to look out for the customer ‘Aha moments’ or moments of delight.
Send to the right person.
The right person may be the day-to-day user of your product or service, or it may be the most senior user in your client organization. Primarily we are collecting stories, so usually, the best stories pivot around the ‘aha’ moment or first time to value. If the motivation for your customer is personal branding, then, the senior leader is normally the best person to interview.
What must a request contain?
The request should clearly state what is involved in the interview process, the outcomes, and what permissions are required from within your organization
Remove Interview Anxiety
When asked for an interview, most people’s initial reaction is similar to being presented with a work item that they may not have the right skills to complete – it can make them uncomfortable and induce anxiety.
It’s important to let your client know what is involved in the process and what is expected. Reduce their workload as much as possible and make it as easy for them. Let them know that there are no storytelling or copywriting skills required.
Using a third party interviewer or virtual interviewer can remove the awkwardness of an interview whereby the interviewer asks, ‘How great are we?’
Ask nicely, politely and let them know you are asking a favour as they do not have to provide an interview unless agreed in your contract. Provide the answer to their WIIFM “what’s in it for me?”
Give, don’t ask
The most effective way of achieving customer stories is to provide the story upfront and show the client the little effort remaining to edit and complete. This is much easier for the client to see the output and that the whole process is not going to take too much effort. Traditionally, this would be too expensive to create a story for each potential customer, but with Wizu Story Builder, the cost of building a survey makes this viable.
Appeal to their narrative
If you have a relationship and partnership with your client, then you know what motivates them and what problems they have – how can you help them achieve their goals in exchange for a customer story?
Here are some motivations for the individual client to provide a story.
- Let them know that their face will be shown many times to x thousand people per day.
- Be seen as a thought leader
- Donate to charity of their choosing
- Customers like to help others like themselves
Then help them sell to their organization internally …
- Free publicity
- Access to additional resources – ideally reserved for the most special customers such as road maps, Customer Advisory Boards
- Marketing opportunities for their organization
- Monetary discounts
- Free months
- Additional functionality
- An award
Prove up within your organization what they have achieved – make it clear they will have content in many forms that they can share internally
Send a video message for the most personal invite.
Record a short video message from somebody they know (preferably you). Even if you don’t know them, there is still huge value in making the invitation personal. It shows you value their response.
Ask permission before the interview
No may mean: “they don’t have permission”. No may mean: “not now”. Or No may mean “Yes, but no logo”.
Attach a one-pager explainer – or video
If you are using a third party to interview you would then introduce them and book an appointment. If you are using automated interview tools (such as Wizu) then you can simply as the customer to complete the interview at a time convenient with them.
People are often hesitant to share their testimonials for fear of what it might lead to. But you can motivate them by appealing to their personal and organizational motivations – they may want the satisfaction that comes with helping others achieve success or feel empowered in a position of authority, which is why they’re asking these questions in the first place. There’s also an element of trust involved when your customers know upfront all about what will be entailed in the process before agreeing, so make sure you give them this information upfront as well.