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How to Turn Customers into Storytellers

Written by Alida

Published February 10, 2022

Customers always have stories to tell—but at first, they might not realize their feedback is a story that truly needs to be shared. To encourage them to share their thoughts, opinions, and unique perspectives, you need to turn them into storytellers.

The key is to make customers excited to tell you how they see the world. Although your surveys are based on extensive background research, customers will want to engage only if they feel like they’re the stars of the show—not just numbers and data. Making this happen will require smart approaches that help customers  feel they’re creating a tale worth telling (and listening to).

Here are just a few of our favourite ways to turn customers into storytellers:


  • Gather more qualitative data

Quantitative data deals in numbers and values, and it may be what customers expect when opening your survey. Surprise them with qualitative questions, however, and they’ll find themselves sharing anecdotes in no time.

That’s because qualitative data doesn’t juggle numbers—it measures elements like theme, meaning, sentiment, and more. Essentially, it gives you the information necessary to understand how customers really experience your brand, product, or service. It encourages your customers to tell stories in ways they’re familiar with, rather than asking them to assign numbers to their feelings.

Qualitative questions may expand on how a customer’s relationship with you impacts their buying behavior, or how their buying experience impacted their overall purchase. It isn’t meant to replace quantitative information; rather, it supplements and enriches your numeric data, giving customers a platform upon which to tell their tales. 


  • Encourage customers to use their own voices

When interfacing with customers, it may be tempting to lean into a reserved, professional tone. This, in turn, makes them feel they’re in a formal environment—one where they have to constantly edit their word choice and the way they express themselves.

Instead, allow your customers  to speak in whatever tone gets their point across by infusing relatable language into your questions. Often, this means encouraging casual phrasing and even less-than-perfect grammar, showing customers you’re interested in their authentic stories. By using their own voices, they’ll be able to answer more naturally, leading to better data and more valuable insights.

Here’s what we mean:

Corporate: “Please expand on your previous answer regarding X.”

Conversational: “What are the first things that came to mind when you saw X?”


  • Spark conversations

Surveys are an opportunity for customers to tell you what they’re thinking, sure—but the best stories are more interactive than that. To fully engage a customer and build empathy that lasts, your brand needs to be an active listener.

There are several ways to do this, many of which are related to feedback follow ups and actually acting on customer suggestions—but perhaps the most valuable option is to let customers ask their own questions. Turn a regular survey into a two-way conversation, letting customers know there’s a human somewhere reading their story and developing personalized responses. After all, no one wants to spend time pouring their feelings onto the page only to be ignored or overlooked.

To create this two-way conversation model, set up a type of open-ended question in your survey. This gives respondents the opportunity to write out anything they’d like to learn more about—that way, they can tell their story and enjoy value from an interactive experience.


  • Try something new

Although customers may be familiar and comfortable with the traditional question-and-answer survey format, it’s also true that they’re finding new ways to interact with the content they love. Technology has given them new ways to communicate their thoughts and feelings—so why not take advantage of that and let your customers tell stories in the ways they’re most excited about?

One of the best ways to do this is with a new tool on the Alida platform: video responses. This engages people who may be more comfortable telling you what they’re thinking rather than writing it out, giving them the chance to use things like tone of voice, facial expressions, and body language to fully communicate their point. If a certain respondent isn’t comfortable with video feedback, no problem—they’re still free to type out their answers as usual.

You can also utilize this option to engage with customers on a different level. Say you’re releasing a new product—with video feedback tools at their fingertips, customers can record themselves receiving and opening the product for the first time, giving you valuable insight into their perceptions and opinions.


  • Share their stories

Once you’ve encouraged customers to share their experiences, it’s time to take their stories to the next level. To do that, you can run automatic analysis of their answers, pulling out comments, quotes, and sentiments that help put their response—and your brand—in the best possible light. Alida’s machine learning tools are highly accurate and learn over time, becoming more intuitive as you use them to bring customer stories to life.

With these automated tools, you can also aggregate your findings into visual content, reports, and newsletters that will inspire and delight current and potential customers alike. Sharing these insights doesn’t just show your customers  that you’re listening to and amplifying their voices—it also helps stakeholders see value and measure progress.


Take your surveys to the next level with Alida

Customers may not always realize their opinions are worth sharing, so you have your work cut out for you when building feedback questions and opportunities. Your goal is to turn every customer into a storyteller—and to do that, you need to power up your surveys.

In our webinar, “How to Power Up Your Surveys in 2022,” we explore how to make that happen. Stream the full session for feedback tips, research ideas, survey tools, and more.

Alida named a visionary  Gartner 2021 Magic Quadrant for Voice of Customer Read the Report