When considering that up to 55% of people share their experience with services and products it is easy to see how important it is to ensure your customers have a positive experience with your product or service and as a marketer to create a platform that empowers your customers to share these positive experiences with other potential customers. Here is an analysis of a great example.
A national pet supplies retailer has recognized the significance of fostering customer stories. In addition, they have recognized the importance that emotions play into customer experiences. On their website, Petco has created the ability to allow their customers to share their stories.
Notice that they titled it "The Moment Your Pet Changed Your Life." Clearly they are tapping into the core emotional element of owning and caring for a pet. Then they ask their customers to share that emotional moment on their website. They have created a lead-in page that explains the idea and allows them to review all the stories that are posted. This establishes trust with the customer that their story is important and that they are not going to do any nasty marketing tricks with them or the story.
After the customer logs in with an email (that's it, no long form to collect information) they are presented with a simple form that has "Helpful Hints" if needed. Once the story is submitted the customer can preview it, then send it. I am guessing Petco has an internal review process to ensure the quality and authenticity of the stories.
Once the story is public, they have also provided the opportunity for those reading the stories to share them on Facebook, Digg, and Delicious. This is great on multiple levels, viral sharing of emotional stories and a deep linking campaign for search engine optimization. A great story about who a pet changed your life sent around the web linking back to Petco.
It is quite fascinating to see a retailer use some basic marketing principles, emotions sell and empower your customer, combined with the reality that the web is a great hub for customer engagement to build a great campaign.