What Pixar can teach us about creating customer experiences - Part One

I was raised to appreciate the magic in creating a narrative that emotionally moves an audience.  Working for Disney, I was fortunate enough to see the effect great storytelling has on their customers.  In modern business, consumers are looking for customer service that connects with them on an emotional level, just like a well-crafted story can.  They want to be drawn in and made a part of your story.  Crafting an authentic narrative is one of the most difficult art forms to master, but Pixar is known for it’s dedication to storytelling.  Here are a few things that we can take from former Pixar storyboard artist Emma Coats’ 22 Basic Rules for Storytelling, to help us connect with our audience.


“#7 - Come up with your ending before you figure out your middle. Seriously. Endings are hard, get yours working up front.“

Interacting with your customers is nearly identical to a three act structure.  Unfortunately, most organizations see making a sale as the end of the final act in their customer service.  It isn’t; the final act contains so much more.  The end of their interaction with you embodies how they feel about all three acts.  It is the culmination of each step of the journey and where they have ended up as a result.  With this in mind, take a look at your third act.  What do you want customers to feel about their experience?  What should they do with or say about your product?  How would you define the experience of being in your store?  What words do you want them to use when describing your brand to their friends?  Ask yourself how your ideal customer, or the main character in your story, has changed as a result of the story you have written for them.  Once you have your ending, make sure it lines up with your product.  Now go back and create or evaluate your customer service experience from that ending.  If it doesn’t line up change it, build on it, or cut it.  Knowing where you want them to end up is how you build a concise and effective story for your customers.


”#14: Why must you tell THIS story? What’s the belief burning within you that your story feeds off of? That’s the heart of it.”

Every company needs to be passionate about their business, products, services, employees, and most of all, the value it brings to their customer.  Why are you telling this story?  At the most basic level, what excites you about the narrative that each customer will experience?  Are you inspiring them to “just keep swimming” or open their eyes to the fact that “anyone can cook”?  Your company's purpose is more than just an idea.  It drives your organization from the top down and each member of your team will look to your passion as the guiding principles for every task, project, and customer interaction.


"#15: If you were your character, in this situation, how would you feel? Honesty lends credibility to unbelievable situations."

One of my favourite Pixar moments is when Wall-E and Eve first meet and bond over a lighter's flame.  The most powerful stories are built on authentic emotional moments that the audience can relate to.  Building a relationship with your customers is a series of authentic emotional moments as well.  If you were the customer in your story, how would you feel?  And not just when something goes wrong.  Are they walking in to your store for the first time?  You know how it feels to be ‘out of your element’ and looking to be welcomed.  Did they email you a question?  We all expect to wait weeks when we've emailed a business.  As a consumer, what would surprise you?  What wouldn’t you expect?  Understanding how people feel is art and science, but when you can design something that makes them feel positively about your brand, you have invested in long term customer loyalty.


Remember - you are the storyteller and you get to craft a story for your customers that will engage and delight them.  You are in control.  You don’t have to wait and see how they will feel, you can steer the story so by the time they end up in act three, they will walk away with the feelings you intended for them.  They will come back to your story again and again...and they will bring their friends.

For Emma Coats' full list, check out her blog here - https://goo.gl/jkLYCQ

Jess Kovatch