How to Ace Client Engagement Storytelling

In any fast-paced office environment, the need to be swift when identifying issues and then solving them often results in overly brief communication to clients (especially those of us with developer backgrounds). However, this lack of elaboration can often have the opposite effect when it comes to client engagement. Giving your client the full story behind their analytics implementations, big or small, is an all-too-commonly overlooked practice. The “full story,” including the background on a particular task and the explanation of the end goal, can be the difference between an everyday client engagement experience and an above-and-beyond client engagement experience.  
The Reason for the Story
Aside from the obvious benefits of providing the client with as much detail as possible, there are a few key reasons to why the story needs to be told: 
  • Elaborating on your story is a major way to set yourself apart from other resources that your client has worked with in the past. Going that extra mile to make sure the client understands the task at hand is often greatly appreciated.
  • This is also an opportunity to ‘strut your stuff.’ You have the opportunity to reassure your client further by demonstrating your knowledge and expertise regarding the task at hand.
      ○Talk to them about the pros and cons of certain approaches.
      ○ Tell them the pitfalls of letting a particular problem go unresolved.
      ○ Explain to them the benefits of doing something the ‘right way’ rather than getting it done as quickly as possible.
      *Note : There is a difference between confidence in your skill set and arrogance. Make sure you’re not coming off as the latter otherwise this could damage your relationship with your client rather than reinforce it. 
  • Taking time to give the ‘full story’ can often end up saving you time in the long-run. If the initial discussions about a project are too short and to the point, key details can often go unnoticed. This can end up causing pushback in the middle of a project due to the client’s lack of understanding. In worst case scenario, leaving the story untold can result in a severe miscommunication that causes the entire project to get derailed or scrapped.
With these things in mind you might wonder what makes a good storytelling experience for your client. There are three features that encompass a good story:
Three Key Elements to a Good Story
  1. The Goal
    Oftentimes the best way to get your client’s attention is to start at the end. Tell the client what this new analytics tool will do for their company; if possible, bring actual numbers to the conversation. Be as specific as you can and let them know just how much this particular newfangled thingamajig will cost and how much it will save and benefit them in the end.
  2. The Why
    To a certain extent, this goes hand in hand with The Goal. If a client is not satisfied by knowing what the goal is, let them know why they should pursue this new solution. By understanding the needs of their business, you can clearly define any problems and outline the solution. Does it make existing processes more efficient? Does it make it easier to obtain certain data sets? Will this provide them new business insights?
  3. The How
    Now that the task is laid out and the client is onboard, it’s time to continue the story on how this particular solution is going to be implemented. Once you’ve assembled a plan of attack, you should engage the client to discuss the plan with them. The client may have input as to why certain approaches may not work, such as when data is available on the page, when communications with servers occur, or how caching can adversely affect the tracking (as some vague examples). The client needs to know how exactly their current analytics implementation is going to change.
Once you’ve outlined the story’s necessary parts, you should take it a step further. Understanding your clients’ needs and their organizations politics (read our WebSight newsletter on transforming the politics within analytics here), you must take additional considerations while constructing and delivering the story to your client.

Client Considerations
Know Your Audience.
It’s crucial to know where, when, and to what degree the story should be elaborated on and for whom. The last thing you want to do is overload your client with too many technical specifications if they’re not particularly skilled on the tech side of things. Doing so can cause the client to lose sight of the goal or cause more confusion than understanding. On the flipside, those that are technically inclined might feel that you’re leaving the instructional story too open-ended if not specific enough. This can lead to confusion on what needs to be accomplished or a false understanding of the goal which can result in doubled work. Save yourself undue time and effort by figuring out who your audience is before telling your story.
Client Familiarity.
After a while, your client may become more comfortable with your working relationship and begin trusting your judgment on analytics implementations on a whim. This can be a wonderful thing and will make new tasks and tracking solutions flow with ease. Work and correspondence in general becomes progressively easier and faster. However, this can also often lead to feeling like the story is not as important. Yet this is most certainly not the case; communication of the story may become simpler and quicker, but the story itself should always remain in place. It’s important to maintain that level of knowledge about your client and their analytics implementation. There is always the possibility that either you or your client may overlook something critical during gathering requirements or project planning. Maintaining that constant and open dialogue with your client is the surest way to minimize incidents throughout the process.
Get Your Story Straight.
Now you should  have the basic understanding of the importance behind telling a full story, how to construct it properly, and the significance of identifying who your audience is and their needs, If you take all these necessary parts into consideration, you are set to provide an excellent client engagement experience and stand apart from the rest. More importantly, your client will appreciate your storytelling abilities and will thank you for laying everything out so comprehensively and carefully. 
Questions on how to construct your story? 
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