The Single, Best Question for Cultivating an Engaging Customer Story

Content marketing is all about tapping into consumer psychology to reach your business goals. You also get to show off your personality by expressing yourself artistically.

A top way to do all of this in a striking, engaging, and memorable manner is by generating an engaging customer story. In fact, B2B buyers are 92% more likely to buy after a trusted review.

A trusted review or compelling customer story makes buyers and consumers more likely to purchase.

Source: Social Proof Examples in B2B Marketing +How to Use Them – Trustmary

While storytelling is nothing new in content marketing, what can you do if crafting new, engaging customer stories is a struggle? Learn the single most effective question for getting those stories and how to flesh out the answer into a motivating piece of content.

Key Takeaways:

  • Effective stories put the focus on the customer and not your product.
  • Solicit more positive feedback by starting with “What made you seek out our product/service?”
  • If a compelling narrative develops out of that question, spin it into an impactful customer story.

The Key To Generating an Impactful Customer Story

You know you have happy customers. However, they’re also busy people who aren’t waiting around to sing your praises. That’s why you have to remember that getting their help to make a customer story is more about them than about you.

Customer stories are about spotlighting a hero you want others to emulate. That means you’re not going to spend your time discussing your product or service’s features.

As Influitive’s Ari Hoffman often says: “Nobody gets out of a movie like Star Wars and says I want to be the Millennium Falcon. I want to be a lightsaber. I want to be a blaster. No, you say, ‘I want to be Han Solo.’

The customer story focuses on “Han Solo,” not the blaster.


Make sure each customer story has a beginning, middle, and end that shows how a real person solved a challenge with the tool you provided (i.e., the lightsaber, blaster, Millennium Falcon… you get the idea.)

Still, an obstacle that often holds us back is the amount of pressure we’re comfortable placing on our audience and the amount of feedback they’re comfortable giving. How do you engage with real customers and get them talking?

What Not to Do

Picture this scene: You’re walking down the street wearing a branded piece of clothing. A representative of that brand walks up to you and says, “Hello. I’m from (insert brand).”

He then rattles off a barrage of dispassionate questions:

  • “Where did you purchase your shirt?”
  • “How much did you pay for it?”
  • “What else did you buy along with that item?”
  • “Did you feel supported enough during the buying process?”

You probably wouldn’t care for the interaction or even stick around to tell your whole “customer story.”

Approaching customers like this should make us feel uncomfortable because we’re forcing the conversation. Heck, that customer might even avoid purchasing from the brand in the future.

A Better Approach

How do we approach customers in a way that takes the pressure off, while opening the door to a great customer story? Lead with one simple yet highly effective question:

“What made you seek out our product/service?”

That’s it. That’s all you need.

You just need this singular, key piece of information. In one fell swoop, your business has the insight it needs, and your customer remains untroubled.

How You Handle a Succinct Reply or a More In-Depth Answer

In some cases, your customer will be all too willing to let loose. This can lead to a conversation and additional questions for a rich, superbly detailed account that furnishes you with an enormous amount of data for crafting an intriguing customer story.

Of course, it won’t always work like this. In fact, more often than not, you won’t get much from your customer other than a few brief lines.

While the former situation is certainly the ideal, don’t let the latter response put you off. Instead, get used to it, or better yet, embrace it.

This is still a content marketing goldmine. By perusing your customers’ answers, you will be able to mine a rich seam of customer psychology and acquire the bones of a really smart piece of content marketing.

That’s because, at a minimum, you get the core elements of an effective story: context, challenge, conflict, and resolution. Then, your audience more easily understands what to do with what you show them.

A good customer story requires context, challenge, conflict, and resolution to lead readers to the recommended action.

Source: Paul Smith –

4 Reasons Why This Lead Question Is So Effective

What exactly is it that makes this concise piece of phrasing so effective? Look at four specific reasons:

  1. It provides direct insight into the core aims of your customer. We do learn a lot from quantitative statistics. However, this qualitative data is even more important when crafting a customer story with purpose and planning future content.
  2. It considers the purchase journey more completely. This question forces you to confront the customer journey from a wider perspective. As a result, you can build content pieces that reflect a deeper understanding of the route to purchase.
  3. It taps into the “golden trifecta.” Content marketing exists at the confluence of art, psychology, and business understanding. Think of this as your “golden trifecta” — that magic sweet spot that helps you gain insight into customer psychology, appraise your marketing efficacy, and get the elements of a customer story with a real narrative arc.
  4. It helps you to better understand the diverse purchase motives of your audience. You need to know who your audience is before you can target them, and you need to know how different audience segments react to different forms of marketing. Asking this question gives you a first-hand glimpse of the diversity of your audience’s driving factors and helps you to ensure you are effectively targeting everyone in the right way.

Keep using this question for designing impactful customer stories.

5 Tips for Writing a Better Customer Story

When it’s time to actually write a customer story, keep the following pointers in mind.

1. Know Who You’re Talking To

A writer who doesn’t know her audience can’t craft a compelling story. Dig into customer data and collaborate with your team to understand the challenges that your ideal buyer wants solutions for.

2. Show How To Solve Real Problems in Common Situations

As John Hodgman says, “Specificity is the soul of narrative.” Don’t just talk about your product, service, or features.

Discuss real and relatable challenges from situations the target audience knows well. The customer story will be more motivating and personal and provide you with credibility and relevance.

Also, part of that “realness” will come from data-driven evidence that demonstrates the results of working with you. While you don’t want to make the story an accounting report, add specific details in place of generic acclaim.

3. Tackle Common Misconceptions

Great stories often hold surprises, so utilize that in your storytelling. How? Some of your target audience assumes your solution won’t work. A customer’s story about a similar person or organization can break down those walls.

Acknowledge why a buyer might have that erroneous assumption, and then (gently) prove them wrong. Plus, the buyers you pleasantly surprise will be the most effusive and tell the best stories.

4. Make It Personal

Let your customer’s personality shine through. Real people will hit the niches you should be targeting anyway. Pull out specific examples and allow the protagonist to express how dealing with and resolving the challenge feels.

5. Make It Easy To Follow

Even the most complex world-building has a simple narrative and lesson at its heart. If you start losing the focus or throughline of the story, go back to basics with a beginning, middle, and end.  Focus on who you’re talking about, what problem the protagonist is dealing with, and how they fixed it with your help.

Streamline the Process for Telling Each Customer’s Story

Customer stories are so powerful, but uncovering them can be a challenge without the right process and approach. Keep it simple; one question is all you need.

Still, how do you streamline the process of working with your fellow stakeholders to prepare, create, and publish an impactful customer story every time? DivvyHQ makes it so much easier. Contact us to see a free demo of how this content operations platform simplifies the process.

Book a DivvyHQ Demo