A CSM’s Guide to Customer Success Stories - SmartKarrot Blog

A CSM’s Guide to Customer Success Stories

A great CSM with powerful storytelling skills can make selling fun and adventurous. Here’s a CSM’s guide to Customer Success Stories.

A CSM’s Guide to Customer Success Stories
A CSM’s Guide to Customer Success Stories

Everyone loves a good story with a happy ending. That’s why as a customer success manager, your best achievement could be the list of customer success stories you’ve managed to compile. Ever since the art of selling turned on its head and headed the digital way, storytelling is considered a powerful tool in the salesperson’s kitty. A good story sells your stuff, sells more, and sells at a higher price.

Why is storytelling important for CSMs?

Often CSMs recoil when asked to spin a yarn. ‘I am here to sell, not tell stories’ is the refrain. But how do you sell? By making people listen to what you have to say about your product/service, correct? But in this world of marketing overkill, the customers are fed up with sales spiels. So, how do you make them want to listen to you? By telling them a riveting story of how someone found success by using what you have to sell!

A good story moves people, influences them to buy your wares. This makes storytelling a vital tool for connecting with customers, which, as many surveys prove, is the only way to customer satisfaction, aka retention. And when this happens, the customer is happy, your company is happy, you’re growing, the business is growing… happily forever situation!

What makes a great customer success story?

Just one thing: A lovely heart-warming tale of a customer who’s madly happy with your product or service.

Now, the question is, how do you tell the story? How to make a great storyteller out of a good CSM? Now, no one is telling you to cook up grandma’s tales. All you have to do is gather all the necessary details and take it to your company’s marketing department to package it into a compelling narrative that your customers will want to listen to and get swayed by. Let’s begin…

How to start building the story bank

Start by listening more and talking less. Listen to customers, peers, competitors, your colleagues, and your intuition. You will hear so many stories. After that, the first steps are to:

  • Identify which stories will help sell what product/service you want to sell
  • Dig up the details: Find out more, be an active listener. Focus on what the customer is saying, ask meaningful questions, draw out insights, and piece them together.
  • Know what to include and what not to: This is the key. Customers don’t have time for ramblers. Your story should touch their heart and their business brains in a short period. So keep it brief and to the point.
  • Tailor-make stories: Know what the customer wants, and carefully choose the story to tell from your bank of case studies.
  • Create a customer ‘storytime’ culture: Schedule monthly sessions with your customers
  • Create an online storytelling channel: Use Slack, or Telegram, or even WhatsApp – find ways to connect daily without intruding on the customer’s time.
  • Make their stories matter: Reward the extraordinary stories of success

Identify what success stories you want to generate to boost sales

Once you decide how and when your consumer connect schedule, draw up a list of essential questions you need to ask your customers for you to put together mind-blowing stories. Remember each case study interaction with the customer must include:

  • The right type of questions should be based on what success you want each customer to achieve. Create a wishlist of each customer, and then score their accomplishment/solution against each point.
  • Questions about your product/service. At least one story must be dedicated to each product/service you sell – this is especially true for SaaS products, where the product itself is often intangible.

What questions to ask

A strategic interview will lead to a powerful customer story. Be to the point, be persuasive, but never invade their privacy. Keep the interview span, whether online on in-person short – no more than 20 minutes at the outside. Check out what’s already available – don’t waste your allotted 20 minutes asking questions that you can find answers to by browsing the customer’s website. Remember to throw in questions about the product, the buying process, onboarding, adoption and implementation, product worthiness, and advocacy.

Questions must include:

  • The basics: type of business/industry the customer is in, company goals, size, pre-product usage situation
  • What led them to purchase your product, and how did they buy it
  • What were the gaps/needs they were trying to fulfill with your product
  • How has using the product/service changed impacted their business, revenue
  • What all can they do now that they couldn’t get before your product adoption
  • The pain points that your product has obliterated from their lives
  • Has the product adoption led them to change their future growth plans
  • Any outstanding experiences of their employees they want to share?
  • What about the cost-benefit analysis of your product
  • Will they recommend the product/service to others?

This list is not exhaustive, but aligning to this pattern somewhat will help you reach that reason, emotion that led the company to search for your product and subsequent adoption. Bingo!

How to arrange all the interview data into a compelling customer success story

This is a painful process of weaning and adding. As a CSM, you might feel everything the customer has said is of prime importance, but remember, leaving out stuff is as important as including things. The first thing to do is make notes for yourself:

  • Why do you want the particular story
  • What desired outcome do you want it to reflect
  • How should it be said for maximum impact
  • What do you want the story to do: drive adoption, upsell, convert new users, etc

Now take this list to the marketing department with all the raw material! Let them do Shakespeare’s job! However, it makes sense to include one short bit about what aspirational points (read film script) the marketing department should look for in a great story in this article. So adding it here:

  • What monster the customer slew; follow the Die Hard pattern
  • How the product made the customer rich: remember The Pursuit of Happyness?
  • How did the quest begin, and where did it end: follow the National Treasure path
  • The humor in every situation pre-and post-adoption: Must mention the ‘red dress’ from Pretty Woman here
  • The rebirth of a more substantial company by using your product: This would be Stark Industries in the Avenger movies

Customer success storytelling should address the customer’s frustration listening to a particularly empathetic story, leading him to dream about a better future upon adoption, which would lead to anticipation to buy the product. And then comes the solution, resolution of his nightmares, and, therefore, the happy ending climax. Of course, the hero is the proud winner – and if you are a CSM with strong oratory skills, by now, the potential customer must be imagining himself as the hero-upon-adoption of your product.

To sum it up

A great CSM with powerful storytelling skills might never win the Pulitzer, but he can make selling fun and adventurous. After all, good stories always find listeners and viewers. Or else Netflix wouldn’t be putting together binge-watching lists and driving subscriptions.

Bottom line: Great customer success stories make for great sales.

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