Tag Archives: customer development

International Cycling Union: 3 EPIC Failures

This week the International Cycling Union stripped Lance Armstrong of his seven Tour de France titles as a result of their investigation into his use of performance enhancing drugs.

While I am sure they feel quite good about their pursuit of “justice” allow me to point out the ways in which this is an epic, epic failure.

1. The failed their Purpose
Professional sports organizations are in the entertainment industry. They may indeed promote healthy exercise and provide competitive outlets for a small group of elite folks but at the very core of what they do they are there to entertain. Bicycle racing is a fringe sport at best, not nearly the following of the three biggies, football, baseball and basketball, not any where close to international sports like Soccer, not even approaching NASCAR in terms of popularity, mind-share, or revenue.

The biggest thing that has happened in the world of cycling in the last decade was Lance Armstrong. He put them on the map of sport. He brought them a larger audience. He added entertainment value beyond what they could have hoped.

And this is the thanks they give him.

When you fail at your purpose you risk becoming irrelevant.

2. They failed at Parity
Of course there is an argument that says we don’t want cheaters to win. That has been the argument that has fueled the pursuit of Armstrong even though he passed all the required drug tests when he was competing. So let me ask this:

What if they found out that EVERYONE in the races was taking performance enhancing drugs? Is it really cheating then?

In an article in the New York Times, Travis Tygart, chief exec of the US anti-doping agency said, there was still more to do to clean up cycling because there were “many more details of doping that are hidden, many more doping doctors, and corrupt team directors, and the omerta has not yet been fully broken.”

If that is the admitted case why aren’t they still looking at ALL the competitor’s blood samples? You can’t hide behind fairness and parity when you only go after a select few people. There are probably hundreds of competitors who will remain on the record as Tour finishers who cheated just as badly but didn’t win.

When you fail to adhere to your own trumpeted standards you risk becoming irrelevant.

3. They failed their Patrons
I may be alone in this but as a member of the viewing public I am not happily cheering for the pursuit of pushing doping out of cycling. I only got interested in it the entertainment value of the sport because of Lance’s pursuits. I don’t care that they’ve finally “proven” he used drugs.

They’ve lost me as a customer.

Not because of the scandal’s, not because of any supposed taint on fairness, but because they taken the guy who made them all the money and tossed him under the bus in some sort of holier-than-thou crusade. They’ve put the sport ahead of the consumer. They’ve tried to reconfigure their “product” right out there in the eyes of the viewing public and in my humble opinion they’ve screwed up the product as a result.

When you fail at understanding the customer you run the risk of becoming irrelevant.

Simply put, for me as a customer, the world of professional cycling has become irrelevant once again. Lance brought them to my attention and I watched even after he finished competing but this latest round of circus performances has turned me off completely and I doubt they’ll get me back.

Where has you seen other businesses fall prey to these kinds of failures?

Customer Communications: Where to Start

How many time have you looked at the front page of a company web site and read something almost exactly like this:

The market leader in providing innovative solutions that transform businesses. Serving more than 67% of the fortune 500.

Drives me nuts.

Too often the starting point for customer communications start with the question, “What do we want to say?”

When you start there you suddenly find yourself with all kinds of due diligence facts, historical anecdotes, feature, functions and benefits…and so do all of your competitors. As a result everyone starts sounding very much the same.

The game changes though when you start from the position of asking, “What do we want the customer to do?”

Yes, it seems quite simple, particularly if you think the answer is, we want the customer to buy. But do you really just want them to buy? Aren’t you really MORE interested in them “succeeding”?

Typically we don’t just want customers, we want satisfied customers. So the answer to the question” what do we want them to do” is, “we want them to use our product or service to solve their problem.”

Of course in order to be able to start communicating from the perspective of solving the customers problem we have to now what the problem is and how your product or service solves it. THEN you have to let the customer know that you understand the problem.

So instead of:

  • We have
  • We are
  • We provide

You start with

  • You want
  • You need
  • You can

Try this experiment:

Take any of the communications you currently use to describe what you do and set them aside. Start the piece over with a description of the problem you solve. Next throw in a few lines about how your solution is unique in terms of what it does for the customer. You only get to talk about the problem and the unique solution, NOT your organization.

Now go look at your competitors communications and see if you don’t recognize how this approach starts to make you stand out.

When was the last time you saw a company talk more about you as a customer than they do about themselves?

 

Three Reasons to Understand the Customer Perspective

I received an email offer the other day that was attempting to persuade me towards an upgrade of a graphics software package I’ve used off and on for a couple years.

I went to the web site and discovered there were three different versions available: Basic, Advanced, and Pro. I could click on each of them, even compare them side by side, and in the end couldn’t decide which one I wanted based on anything other than price…so I bought nothing.

The trouble was that the descriptions of the packages were all written from a sales perspective, this or that attractive feature designed to entice me to buy. But when a feature is described in technical jargon, Dyspeptic Flabberhaven Interface, it sounds impressive but confusing. WHY do I need a DFI? Who knows.

A web site I have really come to appreciate and frequently use is CNET.com. CNET reviews products like cameras and laptops and home appliances but the bit I like best are the buying guides. The CNET buying guides aren’t there to help you compare Flabberhaven capability but to solve your problem.

You want to buy a digital camera? Cool. What do you want to do with it? Kids sport photography? Portraits? Landscapes? Start a business? The buying guides use a series of question to guide you toward the right model and feature set. In short, they take the customer perspective.

In my last post I suggested that the customer experience is guided by a couple of simple questions:

  • Should I explore?
  • Should I buy?
  • Should I promote?

So much of what you find on web sites these days is designed to drive right to that second question: Should I buy? Without providing anything other than a call out of feature and function to persuade a prospective buyer.

And if that seems to work why think about the customer perspective at all?

Reason #1: It says you understand the customer
As mentioned above the CNET buying guides are a great example of how to communicate an understanding of the customer. If I am looking for technology I go there first before I go to any retailer of manufacturer site BECAUSE those guides scream out…we know you.

If you can show that you know me as a customer it helps convince me that your product will meet my need.

Reason #2: It changes the way you present information
If you understand that there are a number of people coming to your web site or contacting you via phone or email that are exploring, looking to learn more about you as a possible solution to a need, you start to present information differently.

I love using churches as examples. Think of one major reason an non-attender would decide they want to go to church. Life Crisis? Return to childhood faith? Searching for meaning? Curiosity?

Go to most church web sites however and what you’ll find…well, you’ll find a mess if you look at enough of them…but what you’ll find it a list of features and functions. “We’re a welcoming community where you’ll feel right at home.” “We’re not like your parents church.” “Church for today’s generation.”

Understanding WHY people are exploring you changes the information you present. True for churches, true for purveyors of software.

Reason #3: It sets the foundation for customer loyalty
When a vendor shows from the outset that they care enough to help me explore them and assists me in buying by displaying an understanding of my need they communicate an expertise that drives me towards loyalty from my first interaction.

If you can show that you know as much about me as a perspective customer as you do about your product you build trust from the start.

This simple list doesn’t come close to uncovering all the changes in business process and strategy that a deep understanding of the customer perspective engenders but it is a good place to start. Which leads me to today’s question:

How well does your organization, business, newsletter, understand the perspective of your customers and if you understood that perspective more intimately what would you change?

Managing Customer Experience: Two Perspectives

There is quite a lot being said, and written, about Customer Experience Management these days and it can easily be overlooked as something that only applies to a small number of specific industries: retail, services, CPG etc.

The truth is that the thought process around managing customer experiences applies to just about ANY interaction between an organization and the people who use the goods or services of that organization.

  • Non-profits like to think of these people as donors of constituents, but they ARE customers.
  • Churches like to think of these people as members but they ARE customers.
  • Youth sports organizations like to think of these people as players but they ARE customers.

I think you get the idea.

When thinking about managing a customer experience it is important to remember that there are two distinct perspectives involved, each with their own set of drivers.

Perspective #1: Inside Looking Out
This is the easy one to think through because it is the perspective of the organization that has customers.

The inside looking out perspective is generally guided by four questions that drive ever deepening levels of engagement with customers. The answers to these questions help shape the experience from the inside looking out point of view:

  • What do we Know? (General customer demographic info)
  • What do we Do? (Segmentation and campaigns)
  • What do we Suggest? (Loyalty and engagement)
  • What do we Create? (The set of experiences that drive movement)

Obviously a lot more could be said here but these four question provide the framework for developing progressively more robust customer experiences.  Using one of our less obvious “industry” choices from above:

  • Churches first need to know who is attending, even basic name address and phone number helps, but learning more about their family is even better information: kids? ages? interests?
  • Then they need to target communication that is pertinent to the attender. You wouldn’t want to send a new visitor who is a 65 yr old retiree information about nursery services on Sunday morning.
  • Once they get to know the person and their family suggesting ways to get involved, ways to feel plugged in, that are specific to them becomes important in terms of creating stickiness.
  • Thinking through how you then keep the new family coming based on multiple anchor points is important. How many churches have had the discussion about having services for everything from pre-school through high school on the same night mid-week in order to create “family time”?

Perspective #2: Outside Looking In

This perspective is often the forgotten point of view. Customers are the one “having the experience” so it is crucial to remember they are looking at it through a different set of questions:

  • Should I Explore? (Deciding if they want to know more about you)
  • Should I Buy? (Deciding if they will buy)
  • Should I Promote? (Deciding if they’ll recommend you to friends)

How about a youth soccer program this time:

  • Parents know about clubs other than the ones their kids are involved in and have to make a decision about whether or not to explore a competitors policies, costs, teams, and coaches.
  • Once they becomes educated the next decision is whether or not to have their child play for that club.
  • If the experience is a good one they can become a significant recruiting source based on what they tell other parents.

I’ll write more about how to manage these two perspectives in days to come but for now it is important to remember that they both exist and they’re both driven by different sets of questions. Understanding how your customers move through their own questions is key to bringing these two perspectives into alignment.

What do you provide that helps your customers make their three decision to explore, buy, and promote?

When Should You Delight Customers?

Perhaps it seems like a bit of an obvious question. “You ought to delight customers ALL of the time!”

Funny thing is the research seems to go against that. You see, there are times when customers just want things to be easy. Hence, the rise in the idea of customer effort.

But let’s not throw the baby out with the bath water. While most folks still see customer delight as a problem solving, customer service approach, as I discussed in Customer Delight Revisited, there are plenty of opportunities to delight customers outside of trying to make up for a mistake.

But if customers want to be left alone sometimes and delighted at other times how do you know when to delight them and when to let them be?

Let me suggest a possible perspective, in terms of a siple mathmatical analogy, that you can use to determine when you ought to delight customers. If we think of customer delight as a multiplier we can start to look across any product or service offering and start to make educated guesses about where to apply effort in delighting customers. It all starts with the customers expectations.

ALL customers come to the table with a set of expectations, even if they can’t clearly articulate them. Let’s view those expectations as being characterized by four levels of effort:

  • Level 0: I expect this part of my experience to be seemless, the provider should make it effortless.
  • Level 1: I’m willing to expend some effort here
  • Level 2: I expect I will have to exert a moderate amount of effort to accomplish these kinds of tasks.
  • Level 3: I expect some faily significant effort

By way of example, paying my cell phone bill ought to be seemless. I want NO effort in interacting with the provider, however; when it comes time to configure my cell phone service I expect that I am going to exert a moderate amount of effort in determining which plan is best for me.

If we think of delight as a multiplier then where is the best opportunity for delighting the customer? Certainly not in the bill paying, the mathmatical equation, where D= delight,  would be D x 0 = 0. On the other hand if we try to delight them in the configuring service scenario we get D x 2 which yields some significant gains.

In this simple example we start to see that where a customer anticipates no effort I need to leave them alone, customer effort IS king. But, when the customer expects to do some level of work I can look for ways to surprise and delight them that will provide some pretty good returns. Some examples of the different levels of customer expectations might look something like this:

  • Level 0: bill paying, continuing service, renewing service, basic troubleshooting.
  • Level 1: Adding a service, purchasing complementary products, upsell or cross sell of products, locating a vendor web site OR locating a brick and mortar location from that web site.
  • Level 2: Configuring service, choosing from multiple product options, bundling, creating re-order templates, troubles hooting
  • Level 3: Customizing a product or service, complex configuration, design

In order to discover the best opportunities to delight your customers you can take three simple steps:

  1. Begin by mapping their experience in interacting with you from discovery to purchase, to service.
  2. Assign each step in that experience an expected level of effort. Not YOUR expectation, the customer’s expectation.
  3. Focus your efforts on the higher levels.

What ARE the steps a customers goes through in moving from discovery, through purchase, to service with your organization? Where are your highest multipliers based on expected effort?

Customer Delight Revisited

It wasn’t all that long ago that business journals were all abuzz with the notion of delighting customers. “Creating real loyalty”, they said, “is all about Customer Delight.”

Fast forward to say…now…and delight has been eclipsed. You no longer want to delight customers, now you just want to make things easy for them. Customer Effort is now the thing that creates loyalty.

I’m not sure I agree…well, let’s be honest really…I don’t agree.

Most of what you read in favor of Effort over Delight cites studies that seem to indicate that customers don’t want “something free” they just want customer service to “be easy”. True, but myopic.

Allow me to suggest three truths of Customer Delight that I believe paint a much more colorful picture on a far broader canvas.

1. Delight starts with your product.
A simple truth but oft overlooked. You can delight customers with elegant design, innovative features, good cost to value ration and yes, even ease of use.

Some people refer to this as the “human factor”, creating products and services that don’t just “solve the problem” but bring a sense of happiness, well being, or balance to the user as well.

Obviously Apple is a leader in the art of human factor design. iPhone was SOOOO cool compared to other smart phones when it first hit the market. Even now the competition is more trying to out iPhone the iPhone than they are truly innovating.

2. Delight continues when you go the extra mile.
This is not as difficult as it seems. Simple ways to provide delight in this category:

  • How effective are your assembly instructions?
  • How comprehensive is your user manual?
  • What are your policies on replacement or repair?
  • How easy are they to find?

Providing information that allows customer to answer their own questions, and providing it in detail, has the capacity to delight customers. Yes, it is interesting on how closely this plays to customer effort, but in this case effort CAUSES delight.

My son is now driving my old Nissan Altima. I love that car. But early on I ran into a bit of a confusing problem with it. One morning, out of the blue, it wouldn’t start. I tried a couple times before it finally sputtered to life. Then, for weeks, no more problem.

Until it happened again. I can’t remember if it was cold, or water, or cold water…but there was nothing that made me think there should be a problem. I did a little digging and not only did I discover this was a randomly occurring issue for other Altima owner’s as well but, I ALSO discovered the secret code to fixing it!!

I kid you not you had to do something along the lines of: Turn the key on and off three times, turn it to the on position for 15 seconds, take it all the way out, put it back in and start normally. Apparently this resets something in the computer. Works every time.

What bugged me was that I had to find that out on the internet. I know it would go against Nissan’s grain to admit there might be an intermittent problem but I wish THEY would have had the information available for me.

  3. Delight is about exceeding expectations…sometimes.
There are times when customers expect you to be invisible. They do NOT want to have to get into the weeds on details. Think in terms of your cell phone bill. You’ve set up all the options as you’d like them and now you just want it to run like clockwork.

If the only time you attempt to delight customers is when you’ve failed at invisibility it feels like you’re trying to buy them off.

Find ways to anticipate your customers expectations and be waiting to meet their needs at a point that is down the road ahead of them.

Later this week I want to look at Customer Delight as a multiplier, but for now consider these truths and ask yourself where your best opportunities lay for elegant design, superlative support, and anticipatory solutions.

Where are your best opportunities for delighting customers today? Where would you like them to be tomorrow?

Customer Effort – Level 2: Customer Service

As I mentioned in my last post Customer Effort, the notion of making things easy for your customer, begins while the customer is still a prospect.

Most of what you’ll read around Customer Effort, and what I want to take a look at today, has to do specifically with customer service…whether that be via the web in a more self service approach or via a call center.

I don’t want to argue the relative merits of Customer Effort score just yet. While it is one of several measurements that can best be used in combination to make some guesses at customer loyalty it is also a risky measurement because it can refer to a specific instance in time rather than an overall experience.

It is also important to remember that customer effort is really applied differently in different industries.

Take a transactional service oriented business like banking, insurance, or utilities. In this case I want my provider to be nearly invisible. I want ANY interaction to be virtually effortless. My expectations for invisibility are quite high.

But now think about purchasing a configured item like a computer, cell phone service, or an automobile. In these instances I expect that my interactions may have a little more substance to them because my requests may start to run in a slightly more personalized vein. I still want the provider to know what I have but I may not have the same high set of expectations when it comes to them anticipating my need.

That being said I think there are several characteristics of any organization that set them up for success when it comes to customer effort.

1. They know me
When I log in to my account on your website, or provide my customer ID to your call center agent, I anticipate that I have just provided all the information you need to quickly call up everything there is to know about my interactions with you.  I should NEVER have to provide more information and I should ABSOLUTELY NEVER have to provide repeat information.

United Airlines is struggling at the moment trying to converge two web systems since their merger with Continental. When you log in to your frequent flyer account it can show you all your currently active reservations but you have to log in AGAIN to view the details of any of them. This is an epic failure.

Once you have my customer ID don’t ask me for my address, my phone number, or the model number of the product I’ve purchased from you unless you’re trying to confirm that I am who I say I am…even then it’s a dicey thing to ask.

2. Front End People are Empowered
I believe that the worst effort experience I have had in recent days came at the hands of AT&T. We were trying to combine my “business” cell phone account with the rest of my families “personal” account.

  • The rep in the store had to get a manager
  • The manager had to call a regional manager
  • The regional manager had to call a different kind of regional manager
  • Regional manager 2 sent it back to the store manager
  • …who had to call yet another type of regional manager

In all it took more than two and a half hours…and the bill still wasn’t right for the next two months.

The problem here was that the front end folks were not empowered to solve the problem. Don’t make your front end people call routers. The more times I have to be switched to another department, manager, or agent the lower you score on customer effort. Give the front end people the authority to think independently and solve the customer issue in one stop.

3. Information is persistent
This really should probably be the first one because it fuels the other two. I list it third because it is more system than process based and thus potentially the easiest to fix.

You can’t empower people to help me if they don’t know me and they can’t know me if they don’t have all the info at their fingertips. Your customers have multiple connections to you, web site, social media, call center, billing…each of those departments capturing information all the time. If you want to know me and empower people to serve me they have to have ALL that info.

How well do you know your customers? How empowered are your people when it comes to creatively serving your customers? Do they have the info they need?

Customer Effort – A Basic Guide

Over the last decade or so three themes have held sway over the customer experience landscape.

Customer Delight is perhaps the most commonly known. The notion of finding way to provide unexpected delight for customers.

The notion of Net Promoter and Net Promoter Score isn’t far behind. We’ve all been asked how likely it is that we will recommend a product, or service, company to a friend.

The new kid on the block though is the idea of Customer Effort. If you do a Google search on Customer Effort you’ll find a lot of interesting debate. Go ahead, we’ll wait for you.

Now, if you did that what you most likely found is a lot of articles about Customer Effort and Customer Effort Score as they relate to customer service and loyalty. Make no mistake, loyal, repeat customers are what we’re all after and at the end of this series I’ll introduce some different thinking on loyalty, but I think much of what Google turns up on Customer Effort falls short of the mark.

Customer Effort begins as a set of expectations. The customer’s expectations, not yours. You may create a customer service department that is seamless and effortless for customers and that may gain you nothing because it is what they expect all along.

Being as this is intended as a basic guide allow me to suggest several guidelines for applying the concept of customer effort.

1. Effort begins before the customer is a customer.
As I mentioned above most articles seem to focus on customer effort as a measure of customer service, but what good does it do you to make customer service effortless if a customer can’t find you to buy from you in the first place?

In an overall customer effort strategy you should look first to see how easy it is for a potential customer to find you, learn about your product or service, learn what makes you different, and decide to buy from you. I know this sounds like marketing 101 but you’d be surprised how often you can go to a web site…the first place MANY potential customers go to learn about products and services…and learn less than what you need to know to make an informed buying decision.

This piece of the customer effort pie is crucial because it is where the customer begins to establish their expectations about you and your offering.

2. Don’t overlook the FAQ
How often do you go to the web to find out something about a feature of a product, or do some troubleshooting, or learn how others use it only to discover that the best answers come from user groups, bulletin boards, or Yahoo answers?

If the company that sold me the product doesn’t appear in the first three search results I start to wonder how well they know their customers. Just the fact that many of us go to Google before going to a manufacturers or sellers web site speaks volumes to how we perceive their desire to solve our quandaries.

If you want to up the ante on customer effort you should be perusing those bulletin boards, user groups, and yes, even Yahoo answers. Take what you find there and update the FAQ on your own site. The more I know you as the provider of info the easier it is to me to come to you for answers.

Don’t make me search, make we want to come ask you.

3. Not all effortless service is good service
I once had an IT guy ask for some marketing advice on a presentation he was going to give about “significant wins” for the department in the previous quarter. The “wins” were all about performance gains, down time, information access…good techy stuff. I starred at him blankly for a moment then asked, “So where are the wins?”

Everything he had presented as a “win” was something the rest of the organization expected as a matter of course. It would have been the equivalent of Ford or Chevy coming out and saying they had a significant “win” with their new models because the mirrors don’t fly off the side of the car when you go over 60 mph any more?!?

What they had surmised was a win was them barely coming up to general expectations, expectations of which they should have been deeply aware.

Remember that effort starts with expectations. What you think is something easy to take care of your customers may think is something they should have never had to bother with in the first place.

Customer Effort IS crucial when it comes to customer service but it starts well before any service call. Make sure your customers have an easy time dealing with you from the time they first hear your name, through the time they buy, and when they finally find themselves in need of additional service you’ll have set expectations correctly.

Then all you need do is deliver.

What do you think of when you hear the term Customer Effort? What types of conversations might be going on inside your organization around CE score?

What is Your Customer’s Experience? Take 2.5

The Hotel where I have found myself residing since Monday here in Newcastle, Australia in equipt with what I refer to as the “room power off” feature. If you’ve never experienced it before it is a slotted light switch just inside the door. When you enter the room you insert your card key into the slot and this turns the power on to the room. When you leave you take your key with you, obviously, and the room powers off.

A nice energy saving feature to be sure. Except…

When you power off the room you power off the clock radio. When you power off the clock radio you reset the clock. When you power the room on upon your return the clock radio informatively tells you it is 12:00…12:00…12:00. Nice power saving feature but a hassle to have to reset the clock every time I come in the room.

Lame.

This trip is one of several I have currently booked with United Airlines. When I go to the United web site and log in I am presetned with a list of all my current reservations. I can easily click on the VIEW button next to any of them to see the detailed itinerary. And then…it asks me to log in again.

Lame.

We were wending our way down restaurant row in Newcastle the other night looking for a dining adventure. We found ourselvs attracted to a particular place based on the menu posted out near the sidewalk. As we made our way to the counter where we anticipated placing an order we discoevered that the ONLY menu available was the one posted out by the sidewalk. There was no way, inside the store, to know what was available to eat.

Lame.

Great that you a want to save me money on my room by saving power costs but ridiculous that I have to reset the clock everytime I come in the room

Great that you want to protect my information but ridiculous that you make me log in after you have already shown you know who I am.

Great that you entice me with the menu but ridiculous that you set up your establishment like a drive through without a microphone.

I’ve been working on a paper on customer experience of late which, frustratingly, has put me in a position of looking at the world through customer experience tinted glasses. In the next wouple posts I’ll be looking at the concepts of customer effort and customer delight.  But in the mean time…

What other examples do you have of poor customer experience? 

The real  irony behind all this is that WordPress failed me no less than 5 times in trying to post this…post. If I hadn’t had a series of good experiences with WordPress THIS experience would have really set me off. 

How to Create Your Corporate Story

Since we’ve already looked at WHY you should have a corporate story and we’ve looked at the elements that make up a good corporate story I thought it might be helpful to those who find themselves stuck in the desert of creative drought to look at how get started creating your corporate story.

Remember we said that this could apply to a company, a team, a small group, or even a family.

I’ve had some interesting conversations with folks around the notion of applying this to family and to me it really speaks to the notion of legacy. How do you want to be remembered? Which is where we start…

Step one in scaling the dunes towards creating your corporate story is to Start at the End.

Imagine your group, whether it be a company of your family, has, for some mysterious reason, been removed from this worlds realm. A group of celebrants have gathered to remember your group fondly, sad that you have left, made curious by the mystery, but gathered in fond remembrance. What do they say?

  • “They really went out of their way for their customers”
  • “They really had some mind-blowingly-creative products.”
  • “They really were an amazingly generous family”
  • “They really knew how to invest in friendships”

You can see how these kinds of statements lead toward a good corporate story. They lend themselves to the kind of short descriptions from which good stories are built. Phrases like: serve customers – anticipate needs,  packaged creativity, ask how we can help, build lasting relationships.

Step two in creating your story is to Make it Personal.
By simply putting a phrase like “We’re the people who…” in front of any of those statements above you start to get a defining point in your story. This is a subtle but important difference.

Growing up my dad never told the three of us boys, “I want you to be well rounded individuals” or “I’d like you to experience a lot of things”, instead he encouraged us to be renaissance men. Try out the feel of that. Compare “I’m someone who is well rounded.” which is a description, to “I am a renaissance man.” which is a definition.

Which leads us to step three. As you’re refining your story Make it Definitive not descriptive.You aren’t looking for acute semantic accuracy here. You’re looking for something that feels like a fit. “I’m well rounded” just feels like a product label description. “I’m a renaissance man” almost sounds like a song title!

  1. So first I’m thinking through what the people gathered in celebration say to describe my group and creating solid phrases from their description.
  2. Next I’m making that into a personal statement.
  3. Then I’m refining that statement so that it is a definition and not a description.

If your family, or company, moved out of the neighborhood tomorrow and for some mysterious reason lost all contact with the neighbors, when they gathered a year from now to remember you what would they say?