super-hero

Make Your Customer the Hero of Your Story

super-heroImagine your customer’s interaction with you as a story. It has a beginning—when your customer first contacts your company—and an ending—when their interaction with you is completed. It has a hero—your customer. And it might even have an antagonist—the problem your customer has come to you to solve.

But the first question is, does your customer feel like the hero of your story? Do they feel like their interaction revolves around them and their needs? Or are they left feeling like it’s your company that’s the real hero—leaving them in a supporting role?

One of your first challenges in figuring out if this is true—if your customer’s the true hero of this story—is managing the story’s villain. Is the villain their problem, which you’ll help them vanquish, or is the true villain your company’s systems and processes, which they’re left battling against on their own? The way you manage their call goes a long way in determining how their quest will go.

Beyond Philosophy examined thousands of calls, and found that how the call was managed and how much effort it took the customer had far more impact on customer loyalty than did the actual resolution of the call. A $20 credit or free visit was no match for a long, drawn-out call.

Just like any story, your customer’s call has an arc—a beginning, a middle, and an end. Think through every stage of this arc: do you have a great beginning, or are you just reading off a script? The middle is the true meat of any good story, so are you making sure the solutions you’re providing are personalized and helpful?

You’ve probably thought about both of these issues before. But if you think about all great stories—stories that leave you smiling as you walk out of the movie theater, or that you remember long after you’ve read the last page—they all have something in common: a great ending.

One of my personal favorite movies is Better Off Dead—and in the classic final scene, the protagonist skis down the mountain on one ski, defeats the evil paperboy, high school jock, and nerdy neighbor Ricky, and wins the girl. Obviously, it’s a great ending.

I’m not suggesting you have to throw your paperboy off a mountain, or use a ski pole in an impromptu sword fight, but seriously: the way you end your customer’s interaction matters.

In Daniel Kahneman’s book Thinking, Fast and Slow, he examines the importance of ending an experience on a high note. Our experiencing mind is different from our remembering mind. The remembering mind is what matters, and two parts of an experience have a disproportionate impact. The first is the high (or low) point of an experience. We do tend to fixate on the best or worst part of the experience, ignoring the other peaks and valleys. The other phase with disproportionate impact is how the experience ended—whether it was on a good note or a bad one.

So, just like your favorite movie or your favorite book, the way it ends determines if you walk away smiling—or disappointed. Even if the first two hours are great, that weird twist ending can sour you on a whole movie.

In the same way, even an otherwise-great call can leave the customer dissatisfied if it doesn’t end on a high note. Imagine how you would feel if the movie ended by asking if there’s any reason you wouldn’t give the movie a 10 on your survey—you’d walk out infuriated! But unfortunately, most calls end with just this type of internally-focused dialog.

Make sure to end with a personal connection, and you’ll ensure your customer walks away feeling like the hero of their story.

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