Stories are and always have been a powerful medium, a dramatic and compelling way for people to pass along experiences. Stories make facts, or at least our perceptions of them, come alive. Stories such as when someone in our network describes in exacting detail the service she received at a restaurant or with a bank, often makes us want to try the service or stay far away from the provider. The power of the customer told and re-told story can spread like wildfire via 140 characters on twitter, a viral video on YouTube or the click of a mouse to launch a campaign for or against a brand or a business.
Steaks and Stories
Leaders tend to underestimate and overlook the subtle ways they encourage or in many cases prevent great storytelling to even take place. Take for example Morton’s Steakhouse and social media expert and entrepreneur Peter Shankman. After too many days on the road, Peter jokingly tweeted to Morton’s Steakhouse: Hey Morton can you meet me at Newark with a Porterhouse when I land in two hours. When Peter landed, he was shockingly surprised to be greeted by a Morton employee at the airport with a 24 oz. Porterhouse steak, shrimp and a side of potatoes! Within minutes Peter told a small universe the story of Morton Steakhouse. Since that time, Morton’s Steakhouse has been written by major magazines, service gurus and was even used in a business case study at a major business school. Could such a legendary service story be in the making with your company? Sadly, most are not prepared for the story-telling interconnected world we live in where the power has shifted from those who make to those who buy.
Way too many leaders have created cultures where a series of rules, regulations, and lack of empowerment for those who serve customers would make it impossible to re-create what Morton’s did with Peter Shankman. How many hoops to jump, sign offs to be made, and regulations overridden are needed in your company to create legendary story telling experiences for those you serve? Here are 6 ways leaders can begin to build the environment where tellable tales by delighted and connected customers can begin to grow:
6 Ways To Exceptionable Tellable Moments
1. Create Tellable Moments: List the opportunities you have to make an impression. Start with the customer’s first contact and trace the customer experience throughout the process. What company policies stand in the way of allowing employees to create tell able moments?
2. You Can’t Be What You Can’t See: For each of the opportunities to create a story and make the experience special, have your team list what you might do to:
- Make a customer angry
- Provide the customer with an average experience
- Create a positive story that the customer will brag about
3. Angry or Average: You Choose: Ask team members which level of service they normally provide and don’t be surprised if the answer is “average.” For a real wake up call, ask how many times daily provided services results in an angry customer.
4. Have You Decided to Be Exceptionable or Just Good?: After all of the data and discussions take place, great leaders hone in on one simple question: “Why don’t we consistently provide the kind of service that provides the grounds for great story-telling experiences for our customers? In most cases, there just simply isn’t a good excuse. The number 1 reason is “We just haven’t decided to be that good yet.”
5. Understand What Constitutes a Tellable Tale: Remember 3 words when building environments where customers can’t wait to tell tales. Those words are: authentic, memorable and out of the ordinary. Customers only broadcast stories about their experiences when the experience is important to them, not you or your company. It goes without saying that customer listening, information gathering and dialogue with the customers is the intersection for where opportunities exist to help create great stories about your service, your company, its employees and your brand.
6. Make sure all employees have the authority to build a relationship: If an employee has to jump through hoops internally to serve a customer with a memorable experience chances are the tale won’t be tellable. After all, if you don’t trust the judgment of your employees to take the right and sensible course in their dealings with customers, how can you expect customers to be loyal and trust you as an organization?