I regularly read various blogs about customer service and customer experience (CX). Recently, I read a post from 2018 that I hadn’t been aware of before. It was called 7 Tips For Call Center Customer Service Teams To Improve CX, and it was written by digital marketing specialist Jade Longelin.
Tip number 3 in Jade’s post was about creating emotional connections with customers. That’s important, Jade argued, because “An enormous population of consumers are millennials. And millennials don’t just look for any products. They want their values to be aligned with the brands they shop from, they want the most bang for their buck, and an experience, all in the same package.”
One suggestion of Jade’s was to use storytelling to make your customers better relate to your customer service team’s agents, and consequently your brand. How to do that would obviously vary enormously, depending on which type of organization and environment you operate in, but it made me think of another highly interesting article that I’d read earlier.
That article, written by Jared Spool, a famous user experience designer, detailed how customers were willing to pay incredibly high prices for some very ordinary products after two researchers had boosted those products’ value through storytelling:
The researchers began by purchasing 200 “flea-market-quality trinkets and knick-knacks at an average price of $1.25 per item” on eBay (Spool 2018, p. 7).
They then sat down with some skilled writers and composed creative stories about each item. One item was a small Russian figurine made of cloth and wood that they’d bought on eBay for $3.00.
After they made a story about how somebody’s grandmother had had a similar figurine, and how she used to tell bedtime stories about how that figurine had served as a good luck charm and once possibly saved her village from disaster, they were able to sell it for … $193.50.
Ka-ching! That’s 64½ times the original price, just by associating a story with a product that didn’t have one to begin with! In other words, the story – people’s perception of the deliverable – was worth much more than the actual deliverable.
The other products that the researchers had bought also gained significant value when the team associated compelling stories with them: They’d paid $250 for their entire collection of cheap stuff on eBay. When the project ended, they’d sold the whole lot for more than $8.000 …!
The researchers proved that you can raise value by creating significance that hadn’t previously existed. So, their research is known as the significant objects project.
But how does that affect the agents in my customer service team, you ask?
Well, you don’t have to invent stories, like the one about the Russian figurine. But, if you have a good team of highly skilled agents, are you absolutely sure that you’ve communicated to your audiences that your agents are all experienced users of your product or service?
If you have, you could argue that your customers would feel like they’re in good hands even before you answer their inquiries. To use a sports analogy: You’d be leading 1-0 even before the match starts. That could help increase the perceived value of your services, and consequently increase your customers’ trust in, and measurable satisfaction with, the service that you provide.
Spool, J M (2018) Increasing Business Value Through Technical Communication Design. Intercom, November 2018: 6-8.
Morten Müller is Documentation & Localization Manager at Zylinc, and the guy who most often blogs on Zylinc’s behalf. Today, he’s primarily a technical communicator, but ever since he wrote his university dissertation on corporate image management, he’s also been very interested in keeping abreast of how to engineer audiences’ perceptions through other means than actual product or service deliverables.