Founder interview: Where customer storytelling takes us next

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Speaker: Zoe Meyer, Founder, customer-360

Zoe Meyer is the founder of customer-360, a speaker and writer, with over 10 years in the customer marketing and customer advocacy space. Her passion for customer advocacy stems from experiencing first-hand the impact customer advocates have in shortening the sales cycle, building brand strength and increasing customer loyalty at companies like CA Technologies and Commvault. Check out our full video interview in the latest post in the Customer Advocacy Experts Series, and read on for the full transcript.

Could you share 1-2 reasons why you’re passionate about customer advocacy and storytelling?
Zoe Meyer:

My passion for customer advocacy stems from experiencing firsthand the impact customer advocates have for companies on shortening the sale cycle and building brands, strength and increasing customer loyalty. My career and customer advocacy began 10 years ago when a vice president approached a few of us in the field marketing organization and tasked us with rebuilding the customer reference program for the company in North America. As a field marketer, we had had customers speak at various events and roundtables. From that experience, two things stood out to me.

Customers have really interesting stories to tell, and customers like hearing from other customers.

So whether we're telling a story through a video, a case study, or coordinating a reference call between a customer and a prospect, the storytelling aspect became a snowball effect for me. Now I can't imagine not playing a role in enabling the voice of the customer

Please share an example of a customer video that had a material impact on sales /marketing.

Zoe Meyer: A few years ago at a previous company, I had the opportunity to invite a customer to join a call with the prospect in the banking industry to discuss and tell their story on how they selected and implemented our security solutions. At that time, it was difficult to get banks to speak with one of another about security. Additionally, this was an international call. The prospect was a bank in the Czech Republic. The customer was a bank in the United States, and the customer I felt that would be the best fit for this call had had both a positive and negative experience in implementing our solution. With some pushback from sales, I reassured them that this customer story would resonate with the prospect. I mean, after all, the negative experience was that the customer had tried to implement the solution without the guidance from our professional services team. Sure enough, after the conversation and a few weeks later, the bank in the Czech Republic not only purchased our security solutions, they also purchased the professional services team time to implement those that solution. And it was from this experience that compelled me to discover more ways to tell a customer story.

I created a customer engagement roadmap that visually demonstrates customers who want more visibility or less visibility in telling their story. Through what medium do they want to tell their story? A case study, a video, an infographic, a call? Do they want more or less control in telling their story? But in the end, it’s up to the customer to decide.

What are the hallmarks of a great customer marketing and advocacy program?

Zoe Meyer: The hallmarks of a great customer marketing and customer advocacy program are being prepared internally to engage your customers, and identifying which customers you would like to become advocates for your brand. Providing a platform through which your customers can become advocates and demonstrating your partnership by integrating and recognizing your advocates.

What are some pitfalls in customer advocacy you’ve learned personally or observed?

Zoe Meyer: Some of the pitfalls and customer advocacy that I have learned are: you need a plan to organize your happy customers and you need support from executive management not only for budget, but to have your program be a part of the customer engagement strategy.

Designing a customer advocacy program doesn't happen overnight. It takes a village, a plan and a commitment to your customer engagement strategy.

How do you predict customer storytelling will change in the next 5 years?

Zoe Meyer: I predict storytelling will evolve in three ways over the next five years. As a result of the pandemic, we all had to pivot and go digital. So digital will remain, yet we will become much more creative and brief in our storytelling format. With content overload, less truly can be more. Secondly, I see storytelling evolving to story promoting, not just by us, a company but also by customers sharing customer stories. And thirdly, I see the growth of online customer communities, customers wanting to engage with each other whenever and however they would like so providing an online customer community will factor into storytelling in the future.

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