Forget the Vendor, it’s About the Customer

I was recently asked by Dianne Jolly, an IBM customer reference professional, about telling customer stories rather than vendor stories. It’s a great question and I think it’s the next wave of customer reference programs. Most companies aren’t there yet, because it’s a huge jump, but I bet that within 5 years, it’ll be the standard for customer stories.

Image it, you go to a vendor site, look at their press releases and case studies and instead of seeing “<Customer> Deploys <Vendor> for blah blah blah” or “<Vendor> Helps <Customer> Save $xxx” you see “<Customer> Solves Absentee Problem” or “It is Possible to Have a Work Life Balance…Just Ask <Individual Customer Name>.  Okay, so these may be bad examples but I think you get the point.  At the end of the day, every company is the best, fastest, easiest to deploy, most flexible, cheapest…  Because of that, why not differentiate yourself and focus on the end user?

It’s really not a huge, earth shattering concept, but it’s amazing how many companies are so reluctant to do it.  Companies want to tell their story, but at the end of the day, it’s not about them.  It’s about the end user.

Tech example:

Vendor story…Fake company deploys a network security solution (one similar to most other network security companies).  Money is saved, man hours are saved, threats are stopped sooner.

Customer story…Bob uses a new network security solution (little to no mention of name because it’s implied by the template that the press release and/or case study is on and absolutely no mention of product) and because he can stop threats sooner. He can now leave work at 5pm and coach his daughter’s soccer team.  He’s happy and his daughter is happy.  Because he’s not working 24 x 7, he’s happier in general and doesn’t get burned out at work. He also just got a raise and a promotion because people now like working with him and he’s more productive.

How many companies are you aware of that are willing to make that jump of telling the customer story and not their story?  Companies sell to people, not companies so start telling the people story!

Instead of telling the vendor story, tell the customer story. What do you think?  Do you have good examples of companies telling their customer stories?


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