User stories help you identify the customer’s needs at every stage of their user journey. Here’s how you can better understand your product lifecycle with this simple user story template.
•Published: Jul 23, 2021
For your product to be successful, you need to identify your users’ needs at every stage of their journey. According to Salesforce, 76% of SaaS customers expect brands to have a well-rounded understanding of their needs and wants.
For example, let’s say you're running a workplace communication software company like Slack. The needs of your users can vary greatly: they could be trying to manage a remote team more efficiently, find faster ways to onboard external partners, reduce their back-and-forth emails, and more.
Different types of users have different experiences with your product, and the same user can have evolving needs throughout their lifecycle. Creating user stories helps teams account for this and improve their products accordingly.
To help get you started, we outlined a user story template that you can use for inspiration to better understand the needs of your audience.
Want to learn more about what user stories are? Feel free to read our guide here.
The User Story Template for Understanding Customer Needs
A user story needs to be straightforward and describe your product from your customer’s viewpoint. It must answer the “who,” “what,” and “why” of your software so you can better understand the needs of your audience. Here is the most common user story template formula to follow when it comes to writing your product experience:
“As a [type of user], I want/need to [perform an action] so that [the intended result].”
If you’re targeting product managers, for example, a user story could look like the following:
“As a product manager, I want to prioritize which features to build so that I can better lead product development.”
12 User Story Examples Across Different Customer Stages
Your user stories will vary based on where the user is in their journey. Here are examples of what user stories could look like across different customer stages when you use the user story template:
The discovery phase represents the beginning of the customer journey. At this point, the user identifies a challenge that they’re experiencing and does research online to find a solution.
Here’s how the user story might look in this stage for different audiences:
- As a content writer, I want to effectively review my articles for any grammar issues and know my content is ready for publishing.
- As an HR manager, I want to run background checks on my candidates to confirm they are who they say they are and save time in the hiring process.
- As a project manager at a digital marketing agency, I want to be able to monitor the tasks of each department more efficiently so that we can make faster progress on our goals.
After finding potential solutions to their challenges, the customer compares different platforms to find the one that best fits their needs. They’re looking for any special features or functionalities that will help them get the most bang out of their buck.
- As a content writer, aside from checking grammar, I also want to understand why my grammar mistakes are wrong, so I don’t repeat them in my future writing.
- As an HR manager, I want to integrate the background-checking software with other HR tools to streamline the entire HR process.
- As a project manager, I want to go beyond just task management and easily create reports to showcase my team's progress to my executives.
The decision phase is when the customer is close to purchasing your product but still needs a little push. There might be a couple of things that are keeping them on the fence, such as pricing or lack of clarity on some specific features:
- As a content writer, I want to first run a free grammar test on one of my articles to know that the solution I’m considering has the tools I’m looking for.
- As an HR manager, I want to be sure I can receive a refund for my membership if I’m not happy with the background-checking software so that I’m not wasting company resources.
- As a project manager, I want to find a solution that has special pricing for large companies to manage the many different teams that I’m in charge of while staying within budget.
It’s not enough to get the customers to purchase. You must also optimize the product experience so that customers stick with your platform and don’t churn. That can include providing the audience with educational resources, optimizing their onboarding process, or making sure that your product is up-to-date with customer expectations:
- As a content writer, I want to receive resources with tips to improve my writing throughout my product experience and better engage my readers.
- As an HR manager, I want to be able to receive frequent updates on the status of my background checks to keep track of every step of the process.
- As a project manager, I want to understand how to create tasks and assign them as quickly as possible during onboarding to get started with task delegation as soon as possible.
How to Get Started Writing User Stories
Here are the steps to follow to write your user stories, which you can do in a meeting with representatives from different departments:
Step 1: Create Your Buyer Persona
Start by painting a clear picture of your target audience. By identifying your ideal customer, it will be easier to write user stories from their perspective. Here’s what your buyer persona will need to cover:
- Demographics: This information will consist of factors such as age, education, gender, and income level. You can ask your marketing team to provide you with this data.
- Pain points: Understanding your target user’s pain points is key to convincing them that buying your software will solve them. What are the challenges they face that are leading them toward your solution?
- Goals: What are some of the goals that your target audience wants to achieve in their personal or professional lives? For example, if you work at a customer service software company, the goal of your target user could be to automate support so they can focus on other areas of the business.
Step 2: Write Your User Stories With Our Formula
Use the user story template *“As a [type of user], I want/need to [perform an action] so that [the intended result]”* formula outlined above to create your user story. You can also use the user story examples we highlighted in our previous action for inspiration.
Step 3: Collect Your Customers’ Feedback on User Stories
Once you write your user stories, you’ll want to get your customers’ feedback on them to make sure they’re accurate. To confirm this, you can run surveys that ask customers to rate the relevancy of your user stories or set up interviews with some of your users.
Step 4: Outline Tasks for Each User Story
Create a set of tasks that will go under each user story that your team must complete. The idea is to find solutions that will meet the user’s needs at every point of their journey and retain them.
For example, if one of your user stories revolves around onboarding, you can set up tasks such as “implement a product tour” to guide the user through your platform better. Or, if your user story is part of the retention phase, tasks could include launching a monthly webinar or adding new, exciting features to your software.
Step 5: Prioritize Which User Story to Work On
Make sure to prioritize your user stories so that you know which ones are the most urgent to focus on. That way, you can structure the work in your product roadmap more effectively.
For example, suppose your current most prominent issue is churning customers due to a lack of support in the product experience. Addressing that is a priority that takes precedence over other tasks since it has an immediate impact on revenue.
User Stories Help You Understand the Customer Experience
User stories allow you to find ways to improve your product by putting the customers’ needs first. That said, user story mapping isn't something you should just do once. Return to the user story template every so often to see how the stories evolve along with your product and your customers.