We live in an era where we constantly compete with machines in a myriad of fields, except for one which remains reserved for humans only – storytelling. The ability to engage its audience gives a company an important competitive advantage. If the users are able to identify themselves with the mission that a brand is committed to, almost without exception they become advocates for both the cause and the brand that stands behind it.
For startups, it is crucial to get the attention of potential investors with the innovative solutions they bring to the table. Whether they will receive the financial injection to enable their business depends on how intriguing their strategy and business model is compared to everyone else’s. That’s the reason why so many leaders recognize the power and importance of storytelling when it comes to building a business and communicating with customers and partners.
Storytelling is also at the heart of service design and product design. The feelings and experiences that your customers share in the first stage of discovering their unarticulated needs, as well as their fears, pains, and desires, play an essential role in addressing and defining the problem that you will be developing a solution for. "Storytelling is one of the main human activities. The more difficult the situation, the more important it is," writer Tim O'Brien says.
The more questions you ask, the clearer the context in which your users interact with your services and products will be. The information you extract will add density and depth to your customers' stories. It is important to understand not only what they like, but also what obstacles they face, what are their struggles, what aspects of the interaction can be improved. This will provide you with the opportunity to look at your products and services from a completely different angle.
This process might reveal insights you have never ever thought of. However, it is of most importance that you do not try to impose suggestions. You need to avoid putting the users in a specific frame or telegraph a certain answer within the questions. Otherwise, you may find yourself in a situation where you are developing a solution to the wrong problem. In order to dig deeper, you need to burst the bubble that you are usually doing research in and get out of your comfort zone.
Customers’ storytelling about their experiences is also important in the prototyping and testing process. Their feedback will help you make improvements. This is where the prototyping, storytelling, and listening with empathy interlink. At this point, you have the opportunity to quickly, easily and cheaply improve the features of your products and services before launching them. At the same time, you will reduce the risk that inevitably accompanies the implementation of innovative solutions, because you already know what your customers need. Explore how customers interact with products and services after they've been implemented, so you can improve their next versions and make them even more functional.
Storytelling is an essential part of persuading the management of a company to invest in a solution you’re are suggesting, especially if you can't assure them with concrete figures on how well the product or service will do on the market. "Storytelling is the difference between solving a problem and creating a cause," says Andre Martin, who has worked for companies like Google and Nike. He believes that when a designer stands in front of a group of leaders, he must convince them of the opportunities that the investment in this cause will bring. "Make them believe the challenge can be solved," Martin adds.
Authentic storytelling is becoming the engine of change. It has an impact on different stages of the design thinking process, although it is used for different purposes in each step. By capturing the pains and hopes of consumers, service or product designers have the opportunity to improve the quality of life of their clients and to gain their trust. The stories that our users tell us trigger problem-solving, prototyping and testing innovative solutions that lead to business successes. Last but not least, storytelling communicates the vision and mission of the company to its customers and partners, which provides a valuable advantage over its competitors.
Desislava Pateva, Fabrica 360
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