Are your customers talking about you?

How do you know if you are part of someone’s story? Last week I wrote about what it means to become part of someone else’s story. One of my readers, Tamara, commented: “The only part I wish I had more of here was a bit more about where to begin or where to look to start to take action on your assertion of connecting our business’s stories to our customers’. What’s the first step? How do I know if I’m doing it?” Good question! This week I’m going to be talking about some of the ways to find out if your customers are talking about you.

Are you building relationships?

We touch people’s lives in all kinds of ways. We have school friends, friends we made because they’re friends of relatives or friends of friends. It’s said there are only 6 degrees of separation between all of us. That makes it a very small world. People are constantly coming into contact with our network, whether we realise it or not.

Word of mouth accounts for up to 91% of sales according to Jay Baer. If you would like to know more about creating word of mouth strategies then I recommend reading Talk Triggers, which he co-wrote with Daniel Lemin.

91% of B2B purchases are word of mouth
Jay Baer quizzes attendees at the Youpreneur Summit 2018 on how much business comes from word of mouth

Every article or video you create, each social media post, the people you meet at events, or are introduced to in passing in the street, all create connections. Some are fleeting but some last. What are you doing to make those relationships more than a passing hello or a single customer transaction?

Becoming part of your customer’s story is about building relationships. Sometimes these relationships are clear. Do you have regulars? People who always come to your business? You know their name, you talk about shared interests and you know what they are looking for from you.

But sometimes it is not so easy to know if we are part of our customers’ stories. What if they don’t tell you in person?

Referrals

How do people find out about you? Businesses often worry about SEO but search is only one part of the puzzle. Once you’ve got your search results, how do you choose who to buy from?

You might:

  • Ask your friends, colleagues or relatives
  • You might check out online reviews
  • Look at testimonials on the website
  • See if the website gives you case studies of how they have worked with others.

All of these involve people telling stories about their experience with businesses, which they share with you. 

When new customers come along, ask how they heard about you. If someone told them about how you helped them, they’ll tell you.

Listen to the conversation on social media

Your customers might also be talking about you online. Social listening is a vital part of your marketing. How often have you seen a negative message about a company on Twitter or elsewhere with no response from the business? It’s because they’re not paying attention to what is being said about them online. Don’t let this be you.

There are some simple ways to keep track of what’s being said about you online: 

  • Set up Google alerts. These send you an email round-up of mentions of your search term. It’s a free service and takes seconds to set up.
  • Hootsuite, which has a free version, allows you to set up streams for different search terms. 
  • There are many other platforms which enable you to listen to the conversation on social. One I like is AgoraPulse

Look around to find the service with the functionality and usability which suits you.

Encourage people to tell stories

Think about how your business fits in with your customers’ stories. What could you do to persuade them to tell their stories more widely? By talking to your customers about their stories and your part in them you can learn valuable information about what you could do to make a difference to their experience of buying from you. This will make your shared story even more worth hearing when they talk about you to others.

Rachel Extance (photo by Jemima Willcox)

Rachel Extance helps business tell their stories so they can reach a wider audience for their work and ideas. A professional journalist, she knows how to write stories people find relevant and engaging. If you would like help to get your message across, need someone who can write articles for you regularly, or you would like actionable ideas for how to tell more people about what you do, get in touch by emailing rachel@extance.co.uk or contact her on social media.

3 thoughts on “Are your customers talking about you?”

  1. Hey Rachel, thanks for this article and some really great tips for how to find out if & what our customers are saying about us.

    I was only thinking about 6 degrees of separation this week and have felt a blog post coming on about this. And here you are writing about it, too 🤔

    “Every article or video you create, each social media post, the people you meet at events, or are introduced to in passing in the street, all create connections. Some are fleeting but some last. What are you doing to make those relationships more than a passing hello or a single customer transaction?” – this is a great reminder that this is so important. As you say, it’s all about building relationships and you have to be doing something to encourage the relationship to grow. I’d love to see you write more about that in future, too.

  2. Great insight, Rachel! I think learning how to listen to customers and what they’re saying in the market is a powerful skill. How often do we focus on this? And beyond just listening…what kind of action do we take to enhance or evolve our customer’s experience after hearing them? One of the questions I have is how to know when there’s a trend in the feedback that’s actionable. There’ll always be people that love/hate the business, but what’s the key to determining changes that will make the most impact? Thanks for making us think about our business’ impacts!

  3. Thanks for answering my questions, Rachel!
    These are great strategies for getting a better understanding of how (and if!) my business is a part of my clients’ stories.

    And I especially like the last point about encouraging them to tell the stories in the first place! I think storytelling is so important in our businesses and for many of us, it doesn’t come completely naturally. You could probably write a whole other article just on the art of storytelling in your business!

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