The #1 Skill for a CSM is Storytelling

In a real-life setting for a CSM, storytelling is a vital way to get customers to listen; therefore, the ability to tell a story well can be a very powerful tool.

Let’s talk about storytelling

Stories provide an escape. Growing up, you’re expected to dream, to use your imagination, but having the ability to share and converse that compelling story you made up is a whole new ball game. On the surface level, storytelling may seem like it comes naturally, but it actually requires great skill and can become an exponential tool to utilize in many real-life situations.

Whether you are an aspiring Customer Success Manager (CSM), just starting, or continuing your career in a CSM role, it’s always important to keep adding exceptional tools to your customer toolbox. You probably have solid conversational and negotiation skills, which are critical pieces to a CSM role, but can you create and tell a compelling story? Well, if you can’t, you’ve come to the right place. 

Why storytelling?

While reading a book, you are actively piecing together the plot, the characters, setting, and extra description, all while thinking about the possible endings of that story. Stories are a form of compelling communication, likely influencing a particular emotion or action of the reader. Because of the versatility of storytelling, one can appeal to various audiences while also helping readers retain specific information in an easily digestible and memorable format. 

A CSM who is working with many different customers who each have unique use cases they are addressing, that CSM can choose the most relevant story that would appeal most to the current prospect or customer they are speaking to. For example, suppose a customer is on the fence about renewing their subscription with your service. In that case, it could be an excellent opportunity to share a customer story showcasing data and proven benefits that have come forward after staying on the platform over an extended period. Data and real-life examples can go a long way to winning a customer.

How is a Customer Success Manager a storyteller?

In a real-life setting for a CSM, storytelling is a vital way to get customers to listen; therefore, the ability to tell a story well can be a very powerful tool. CSMs are the number one resource for any customer, as they are there to help them with whatever they may need in their journey with the adoption of your product or service. By sharing current customer stories, you can really resonate with your customers. You are providing them with real-life insight into how you manage your customers, how the product or service is a successful tool to utilize, and how one can easily replicate that success with their current customer(s). Ultimately, a CSM’s goal is to keep high customer retention rates, so storytelling to connect with your customers at a deeper level can lead to that happily ever after scenario that humans (and businesses) naturally crave. 

What is the difference between a customer story and storytelling?

Storytelling is the ability to tell a story compellingly, while a customer story is a specific example of a customer’s journey with your product or service. In a way, storytelling is the tool and strategy that strengthens a customer story. Customer stories are a concise version of their overall journey with your product, so the order of events and key details included are critical for any storyteller to get right.

Tips and tricks on telling a great customer story:

  • Don’t beat around the bush: Keep the information short and to the point. It’s easy to include every tiny detail, but in all actuality, your customer wants to obtain the necessary information quickly.
  • Leverage customer data: Any quantitative detail or stat can significantly impact the reader or listener. Data takes a customer story to the next level and allows your product or service to speak for itself. 
  • Focus on the Basics: As we learned in elementary school, there are five parts to a story plot. Use them when you are creating a customer story to stay concise!

  • Be picky: Choose the customer story that best fits your customer’s needs. The most relevant customer story will be the most compelling for your client as it shows them exactly how your company addresses their given use case and can help them achieve that same (if not better) success. 
  • Showcase your technology: Customer stories are for non-technical and technical audiences. Make sure to showcase details of your product or service that can appeal to both types of audience members. If possible, including a customer quote or quotes will add credibility and personality to your customer story, too! 

Concluding thoughts ft. RecastSuccess

It’s never too late to learn or further develop your storytelling skills as a CSM. Storytelling is a vital form of communication that can enhance the relationship between you and your customer and the reputation of your company and product. Additionally, storytelling is an invaluable skill that will give you the upper hand if you are a candidate for a CSM role. Our friends at RecastSuccess wrote a blog on hiring diverse CSM teams, and storytelling made the list of diverse qualities in a CSM candidate! Make sure to check out RecastSuccess and their latest blog, plus take a peek at the Vitally platform to learn more about how we empower CS teams. 

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