with Customer Stories
Forget pointless "customer comments" and convincing but boring "customer case studies": real and appealing "customer stories" are the best way to boost your sales
Who am I ? Click here.
1. What is a customer story and why is it better than a customer comment?
Basically, people don't believe advertisements because they are advertisements.
What can you do to win people's trust? If they don't believe advertisements, you need to take another approach. How about customer comments? They are not advertisements published by a company that wants to sell its product and make money, but comments made by users who have spent their hard-earned money buying the product and are actually using it. The idea is that even the most skeptical prospective customers will believe statements about a product made by people who are actually using it.
Customer comments are sometimes referred to as "customer testimonials". They are very like witness testimonies in court. Witness testimonies are more believable than the claims made by a lawyer, because everyone knows that the lawyer wants to win the case on behalf of his client, whereas the witness is a third party. The relationship of advertising to customer comments is similar to that of witness testimony to lawyers' statements. That's why customer comments are more useful as a marketing tool than advertisements. Some consultants will tell you to collect as many customer comments as possible and publish them on your website. Provided you have enough customer comments, they say, you don't need to worry too much about the quality of your advertising.
I don't deny the value of customer comments. Yes, they work better than advertising, but they have their limits and I believe customer stories are more effective. In a moment I will explain why, but first let me show you an example of a customer story to help you understand what they are.
(Sorry this is in Japanese: I plan to translate it into English soon.)
"Off-the-shelf kendo masks never fit me properly, but with my order-made mask the monomi (viewing gap) is in exactly the right place."
(Click on the picture to see the whole story)
As you see, it has a big picture at the top, with a title (a quote from the customer), followed by an interview with the customer. It is like a celebrity interview in a magazine: it treats the customer like a big star.
Customer stories can make money for you. Here are a few examples:
Why do customer stories get such good results? I'll tell you why in the next section.
I believe that when people are exposed to a sales message - whether it be a TV ad, a website, a brochure, a sales pitch or even a customer comment or story - they have a three-stage reaction: they put up three mental walls "against" the sales message. You have to get over those walls in order to make them think your product or service is worth buying. Let's look at the three walls in turn.
Mental wall 1: "Really?"
Advertisements can't get over this first mental wall precisely because they are advertisements. If the sales message is from someone who wants to sell the product, it won't overcome people's doubts and won't be accepted.
Customer comments can generally get over this first wall because they are not made by someone who wants to sell the product, but by someone who has actually paid money for it and is using it. They can be trusted. Who delivers the message matters more than what it says.
Even the most skeptical will listen to customer comments: "OK, you are someone who bought the product, not the company selling it. What you say may not be entirely untrue. I will listen to you for the time being. Go ahead." They will not accept an advertisement, but they are prepared to listen to customer comments. You are over mental wall 1: so far, so good. Now you have to get over the second wall.
Customer comments by their very nature can't get over this second mental wall because they only convey the customer's general impressions and are not long enough to fully explain why people should buy your product. Moreover, people often forget the reason why they bought your product, because there is no merit for them in keeping that reason in mind. You can't explain something you have forgotten. So spontaneous customer comments usually fail to convey the real reason why they bought the product.
An interview-based customer story is a better way of conveying reasons for buying the product. If you ask customers a series of good questions, they eventually remember the reasons for their purchase. Answers to these questions are not simply impressions, but explanations of what happened. A real and vivid testimonial of this kind, based on real memories, allows you to get over the mental wall of "Why?"
3． Why a customer story is better than a customer case study
5. Who I am and why I created this site
One day I found myself wondering, "What do people in other countries do for customer stories?" I searched the Web using the keywords such as "customer comments", "customer case study", "customer story" and "customer testimonial". No matter where I looked, I was unable to find a company dedicated to the production of customer comments, case studies or stories. So I decided to set up a website and talk to the whole world about customer stories.
I did not set up this website for business purposes. My intention is not to sell any services or products here. I just wanted to say something to the world over the Internet. This is a little like putting a message in a bottle: I hope someone will find it, some day. That's why I set up this site.
If you are interested in my ideas, I recommend you try to produce your own customer story. I would be very interested to see what you come up with: just send me the URL. I really want to see your stories.
If you have any questions, feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank you for visiting this site.