What’s your story? What reasons compel your customers to do business with you? What gets them excited about doing business with you?

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Consider this. If you’re selling a trip to Hawaii, you probably try to paint a vision of a day on the beach, an amazing luau and a beautiful oceanfront balcony that includes a gorgeous sunset. The story you don’t tell—at least I hope you don’t—is the one that includes the technical specs of the engine on the plane that’s flying you to that exotic location, the type of tires on the resort’s van that will be waiting at the airport or the number of parking spaces in the resort’s parking lot. No, you don’t share technical specs when you’re trying to sell a vacation.

When you’re trying to get your customers to buy into the experience you’re creating for them, it’s the story that will do it. Create the image in your customer’s mind. If you really want to get them excited, get your customers to help paint that picture in the form of online reviews or testimonials on your website.

For example, I was getting ready to buy something on Amazon recently. I thought I knew what I wanted until I started reading the reviews for similar products from different manufacturers. For the most part, the product descriptions were the same; all had very positive reviews about the quality of the product and the fast shipping. That gave me confidence; however, it was the reviews that included a story that ultimately made me choose one product over another. It’s important to note that while you may have provided a story in the description, the reviews (or testimonials) were in the customers’ words, not yours. Customers love to hear from other customers.

How do you get these types of reviews or testimonials? Ask for them—but ask the right way. Most people would ask, “If you are happy with (whatever the product or service is), would you mind leaving a review?” That’s going to get you a nice rating as long as you deserve it. But if you want the customer to tell the story, try asking a different way: “Can you please leave a review and tell everyone how you’re using the product?”

Do you see the difference? One is asking for a rating. The other asks for a story. This may sound like common sense, but look at reviews for different products and you’ll see a big difference between ratings and stories. The point is that stories make you want to buy. Customers love the story.

Shep Hyken is a customer service expert, keynote speaker, and New York Times bestselling business author. For information, contact 314-692-2200 or www.hyken.com. For information on The Customer Focus™ customer service training programs, go to www.thecustomerfocus.com. Follow on Twitter: @Hyken

(Copyright © MMXX, Shep Hyken)