[First published on StartupCentral]
Dealing with customers effectively is one of the most essential aspects of running a successful business. Since they are buying what you have to sell, keeping them happy should be a priority. Interestingly, they are living human beings and some basic personality traits (of a business) result in healthy relationships being built that help in the long term. I’m not talking about ‘rewards programs’, ‘contests’ and ‘incentive initiatives’. I’m talking about caring, communicating and an occasional smile.
Your business is your story
There is an exciting tale behind every startup. The background of the promoters, the first spark, the first sale, the first mighty blunder, the phoenix, the first fundraise and the steady growth — we can go on and on. The product or service offered is a story in itself — the first trial, the first testimonial, the team members and their experiences, the problem it solves and how.
Entrepreneurs are storytellers. Intriguing stories get talked about, published, discussed and sold. Stories can be made intriguing with the right perspective, choosing the right elements — much like the perfectly cooked dish. We choose what to talk about and, we choose what not to talk about.
Every product or service is a story that you pitch to a prospective client. If it is interesting and relevant enough, you get their priceless time and you make a sale. If the story is not relevant and interesting enough, you don’t.
How you tell the story matters
How would you like your storyteller to be? Should he or she be well dressed? Should he or she be fluent with communication? Should he or she respect your time, heed your requests? Should he or she smile, or be grumpy while narrating the tale in a monotonous drawl, probably doing it because he or she is supposed to?
You need to focus on your product. But the story that you weave around it should get your equal attention and ought to be equally enticing. If storytelling is not your forte, get a team member who can do it effectively. Best if you can do it in-house, outsource if you have to.
Better story, better service?
A good story is all encompassing. It has a start that makes sense, it has a protagonist that the audience can empathize with, it has a villain that the audience fears yet respects and most importantly — it is wonderful enough to deserve their priceless time. The plot (why this business, how to solve the problem), characterization (efficient communication nodes, prompt troubleshooting) and a juicy end (courteous closure to the interaction, feedback, thank you) all come together to create a strong story (service experience).
Train your storytellers
From your online communication to your offline branding activities, from your emails to your telephone conversations with your clients, ensure that the tone is consistent. Your team should understand the plot, the characters and the very purpose behind your existence. Every single business can be converted into a thrilling story of victory. Make your team members the knights of your regime, hand them their white stallions and ask them to ride off into glory.
Glory is a successful sale. Glory is in the way they make it. This is how we lay a strong platform to get the necessary customer service ethics across.
If your story is effective enough to be carried by your team across the city or country or globe, it certainly results in a more driven, focused and passionate team. This team relates to your brand, they can sell more effectively and only when they are passionate enough, can they care about your customer.
Service is care
A good storyteller always cares for his audience. He listens, sees and smiles. He is there for them, holding their hand and taking them through his epic tale. They pay him for his time. He promises them value worth theirs.
Tell a good story. That’s good customer service.