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How to Boost Referrals from Your Loyal Customer Base – Mike Wittenstein, Storyminers

Every business owner knows that your brand is only as strong as the experience you give your customers. Having the capabilities to provide excellent customer service will generate a loyal customer base, referrals, and reliable profitability. On today’s show, we talk to Mike Wittenstein, keynote speaker, business coach, and managing partner of Storyminers, which is one of the leading customer experience design consultancies in the country.


Jim Fitzpatrick: Welcome to the Atlanta Small Business Show.

Mike Wittenstein: It’s a pleasure to be back, Jim. Thanks for having me.

Jim Fitzpatrick: Yeah, yeah. It’s great. Let’s jump in. I know we had a great discussion last time that you were in about story and what that means to companies. For those that are watching, what is story and what does it do for small businesses?

Mike Wittenstein: The most important story you can have isn’t the one that you tell your customers. It’s the ones that they tell their friends.

Jim Fitzpatrick: That’s a good point.

Mike Wittenstein: In a sense, your story is your brand. So, a great experience yields a great story.

Jim Fitzpatrick: How can a business have any control over that story that your customers and your fans go out and tell?

Mike Wittenstein: To have a great story told about you is you look at all the key points of your experience. When people call you on the phone, when they look at you online, when they come into your store, when you service them in their home, make sure that the details that matter to them are taken care of.

Jim Fitzpatrick: That’s a good point. That’s a very good point.

Mike Wittenstein: And they’ll have only good things to say.

Jim Fitzpatrick: Which means, I would imagine, you’ve got to then start that story process with all of your employees, whether it be two employees or 200 employees. They’ve got to know what the mission of that company is, right?

Mike Wittenstein: I would say that’s 80% right. The 20% that most people miss is that when you’re getting ready to fix your customer experience or make it better, a lot of companies start from the inside and they push out. They say, “We think that this is the better way to do the customer experience,” and they just keep pushing. What matters is what their customers think.

Jim Fitzpatrick: Ah, good point.

Mike Wittenstein: So, not business owners.

Jim Fitzpatrick: How do you find your story? How does that come about?

Mike Wittenstein: It’s interesting. Half of the story comes from what you want to declare. When people ask you, what do you do, there’s a couple ways you can answer that. You can say what you’ve done in the past, what you do right now, but the more compelling story is to talk about where you’re headed and why.

Jim Fitzpatrick: Yeah, that’s a good point.

Mike Wittenstein: That’s the story that you start with, but for small businesses that really aren’t sure, what I always recommend, and what always works, is to ask your customers how would they describe you to a friend. We’re wired for a story as humans. When you’re at a cocktail party type of thing, people will say, “What do you do?” What they really want to know is how can what you do help me? That’s the question that you need to answer.

Jim Fitzpatrick: Yeah, problem, solution, right?

Mike Wittenstein: Exactly.

Jim Fitzpatrick: I have a problem that you may have a solution, and how would you fix it.

Mike Wittenstein: We use a technique called a reason for being. A reason for being explains in one sentence. It’s really hard to get to, but it’s worth it. What value you create, for whom, and why they’re better off as a result. It’s that last part, knowing what your client’s gonna do with what you give them that you need to know. Because if you can gear your service offering, if you can gear the experience, and if you can gear your storytelling to letting them know, look you really are gonna be better off, and your testimony will support it. That’s the magic formula.

Jim Fitzpatrick: Mike Wittenstein who is with StoryMiners right here in Atlanta. For those businesses that are watching, you’re in here. You’re watching somebody give you this information that’s headquartered in Atlanta that can help you with your Atlanta based company and we’re so happy to have you back on the show. We’ll have you back again because these conversations are great to have with you. Always interesting to have on and we get such great feedback from our viewers. Thanks for joining us. Thank you for joining us in the studio.

Mike Wittenstein: Thanks so much.

Jim Fitzpatrick: Great.

ASPN Atlanta Small Business Network, part of JBF Business Media.


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