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What Stories Are They Telling About You?

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What You Need to Know

  • The best stories come from magical experiences.
  • The worst stories come from disasters.
  • One key to avoiding legendary disasters is proactive communication.

If you want more clients, get your current clients to tell stories about their “magical” experience working with you. Provide an experience that shows you care deeply about them.

When your contacts with clients are simply what they expect, they have no reason to tell stories about your service. You’re doing what you’re supposed to do. There’s no story in that.

Stories come from the extremes: either extraordinary, magical experiences or terrible, disastrous experiences.

Several years ago, our washer quit on us at the same time as the central air conditioning (but that’s another story). We purchased a new washer and dryer from a major department store chain for delivery that weekend.

On Friday evening, an automated phone call informed us that delivery would take place on Saturday, between 1:45 p.m. and 3:45 p.m. So, although it was the hottest day of the year, we stayed home that afternoon in the sweltering heat to await the arrival of our new machines.

When at 4 p.m., there had been neither a delivery nor a phone call, I called the store’s 800 number. Three things happened on that call: I was required to go through a litany of personal information to be certain I was authorized to speak on my own behalf; I was told “We’re sorry for your inconvenience”; and I was informed that the delivery men were running late but were on their way.

At 6 p.m. I called a second time, having heard nothing from the company and having received no delivery. After the litany and the standard apology for my inconvenience, I was told that the delivery men had tried to make the delivery, but no one was home.

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When I protested (it would have been hard to miss a big truck in our driveway or a phone call requesting our whereabouts), the story changed. The new story was that we had been number 9 on the schedule, but they skipped 9, 10 and 11 because 12 and 13 were closer. They assured us that our delivery was coming.

At 8 p.m., my wife Hannah called them. After the litany and the apology for our inconvenience, she was told they had finished their deliveries for the evening. Hannah’s response was…less than friendly. And it seemed persuasive because they promised they would get the truck to us soon.

At 10 p.m., however, I called again, and after the customary preliminaries, I was told that they simply were done for the day. Then, the call center employee presented me the ultimate irony — an offer to reschedule delivery — another opportunity to spend a day in the heat waiting and hoping for a delivery. I canceled the order immediately.

While we spent an entire afternoon at home in sweltering heat waiting for a delivery that never came, what was worse was that not once did they call us. In fact, they never called — to find out why we canceled or to apologize for the terrible service or to tell us that they were processing the refund. The company is now out of business.

In my book, Become A Client Magnet, I devote several pages to the importance of communication. If just once, someone had called to say they were running late and offered to reschedule, the story I’d be telling now might have had a happy ending.

Clients expect Respect, Empathy, Action, and Communication, all of which lead to Trust (note the clever acronym, “REACT”) which, in turn, leads to loyalty and referrals. Proactive communication is the key. Without it, the stories your clients tell about you may not be the kind you want them to be telling.

Give your clients an experience that results in powerfully positive stories and you’ll attract plenty of referrals.

Sandy SchusselSandy Schussel has been a coach and practice development consultant for insurance and financial professionals for the past 20 years. He is an approved MDRT coach and has served as the national sales training director for First Investors and Foresters. He is the author of two books, The High Diving Board, about overcoming fear and Become A Client Magnet, about attracting and keeping clients. Schussel‘s scheduling calendar is available here.