How to Build Customer User Stories

Updated: Dec 23, 2021

User Stories power your Marketing and Sales efforts. They organize your messaging and align strategy, tactics, and results required for iterations.


User Stories require a clear understanding and definition of your Ideal Customer Profile. The best way to align your Ideal Customer Profile (ICP) is to create an ICP Statement.


If you’ve created an ICP Statement, congratulations. You’ve already laid the groundwork for success. And you have removed unnecessary and frankly irresponsible risk.


If you have NOT defined your ICP or created an ICP Statement, then we strongly suggest reading our blog on ICP and ICP Statements.


Let’s get started on User Stories…


You're likely not the only company targeting customers in your targeted ICP. How will you differ from your competitors? What customer needs do you meet that your competitors can't?


To address these questions, you'll identify your Company Competitive Advantages (CCAs) and combine that with your ICP to develop your ICP User Stories.

Company Competitive Advantages (CCAs) Your CCAs compare what your customers need and value, to areas in which your company can compete and excel over competitors.


Completing your CCA assessment helps you design your company structure, product features, sales and marketing, and service delivery and support, based on the expectations of customers within your ICP.


By accomplishing CCAs early in the Vision Phase, you focus your efforts and funding on areas such as quality, volume, or speed, that customers in your ICP will expect, and that can set you apart from your competitors. And you avoid wasting time, money, and effort on features or support that your customers won't expect.


To develop your CCAs, start by using a short sentence, identify the primary customer needs that your product or service addresses.


Frame this from the customer's perspective. For example: "I need a more efficient and affordable inventory tracking tool." Try to identify at least 2 customer needs.


Next, list specific cost advantages you offer (or plan to offer) your customers, which align with their primary needs. Cost advantages include (but are not limited to):

  • Pricing

  • Contract structures

  • Discounts

  • Referral incentives

Now, consider what conveniences you offer your ideal customer, which align with their primary needs.


Conveniences include (but are not limited to):

  • Service delivery

  • Customer support

  • Product features & ease of use

Next, identify how your ideal customer measures excellence in the products they purchase, and the vendors they choose. Excellence includes (but is not limited to):

  • Quality

  • Volume

  • Speed

Now, considering your customers' needs, explain how your company and product deliver excellence in each area valued by your ICP.


Based on what your ideal customer needs and values (quality, volume, speed), and your ability to compete in those areas, in which will you choose to compete, and how will you excel over competitors?


Consider your priorities & available resources. For example, you may need to prioritize excelling in quality instead of volume if volume is only a minor consideration for your ideal customers.


Now, identify areas in which your ideal customer would, or would not, pay more for your product (or a similar product). What do they value enough to pay extra?


For example, will your ideal customers pay more for quality of product (over-engineered vs. sufficient)? Areas to consider include (but are not limited to):

  • Quality

  • Volume

  • Speed

  • Customer Service

Next, list features of your product (if any) that may be easier and cheaper for your ideal customer to do on their own.


For example, if your product contains a database structure similar to Google Sheets, but adds no other benefit or product integration for the customer, then it would be easier and more affordable for them to use Google Sheets.


Now you’ll identify reasonable and unreasonable demands and expectations. What demands or expectations could you have of your customers that they would consider unreasonable?


For example, it’s unreasonable for me to ask users to re-enter their personal information when setting up their account, after they just provided the same information when purchasing my product.


But, it's reasonable for me to ask customers to commit to an annual contract for my product based on account setup time and complexity.


Now reverse roles and list any demands or expectations your customers could have of you or your product, that you consider unreasonable. For example, it's unreasonable for my customers to expect after-hours live customer support.


But it's reasonable for my customers to expect a free trial period prior to committing to an annual contract.


Next, describe any training or skills you think are necessary for your customers, to reduce your ongoing costs. For example, "it's important that users have some training or understanding of Point-of-Sale systems. This will reduce the volume of customer service calls and requests I get."


Finally, consolidate any testimonials or feedback you’ve received (if any) from current or past customers. Provide direct quotes if able, as this will be very compelling to investors.


Composing ICP User Stories


When composing your User Stories, use the format:


"As a [type of user], I want [to achieve this goal], so that [I can have this outcome]"


Here's an example:


"As a franchise temporary storage company, I want to improve efficiency and ease of use of my inventory management system, so I can improve employee efficiency and reduce lost sales opportunities due to inaccurate data."


Considering all information you've provided, and your ICP statement, compose your ICP User Stories.


ICP User Stories consider customer needs and expectations to provide a more targeted look at a variety of potential customers within your ICP. This helps you refine product features, marketing strategies, service delivery, and customer support methods.

Concise User Stories, accompanied by thorough research, increase confidence and reduce risk for you and your investors, helps you identify the correct pool of user to judge product market fit, and reduces your time to revenue.

BOSS recommends you create at least two User Stories. But because this is such an important exercise, you should stay with it until you’ve exhausted the number of meaningful user stories you can create.


If you want to learn more about building your user stories, register here and use the code BCP123 for access to our ICP course "Competitive Advantage & ICP User Stories".


If you would like to watch our webinar about ICP and how it impact functional areas, exit strategy and more, click here.

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