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How Storytelling Can Super-Power CX

Are you measuring, or just calculating?

We’ve all been there. We’ve watched as a presenter, equipped with incredible data and very good intentions, points to numbers on a screen or in a document.

You see the numbers. You might even understand what they mean.

But they don’t really resonate.

The numbers don’t move us to take action. They don’t provide the context needed to really understand and appreciate the entire situation.

And this happens in customer experience. The important work of listening to customers, gathering insights and reporting back to the organization can be reduced to a metric.

But just because it can… doesn’t mean it should.

Rather, numbers shouldn’t be the only way you seek to understand your customers, nor should they always be the first way.

Of course, quantitative metrics can be immensely helpful. But the ease with which they can be calculated and regurgitated means that they’re often leaders’ go-to for understanding the impact their CX program is having. And that can be a mistake.

Measurement without meaning is just a calculator.

Why does storytelling matter in customer experience?

Storytelling is part of the magic of customer experience. And customer experience leaders get to be the magic storytellers.

Connecting data to true customer stories helps us:

  • Understand the context behind the numbers
  • Uncover issues and opportunities that metrics don’t always reveal
  • Discover what actions to take to make meaningful improvements to metrics
  • Remember that our customers are human beings

Alright, so we’ve established that storytelling can play an important role in your CX program… but how?

How to introduce storytelling into your CX leadership

Here are three ways to introduce storytelling into your customer experience leadership.

  1. Round out your dashboard data!
  2. Share mission moments.
  3. Promote peer recognition.

1. Round out your dashboard data!

Plenty of customer experience teams share dashboards full of important data. These reports are often full of graphs and charts showing what metrics have changed in the last month, week, or even daily.

It’s not enough to measure. Those measurements should lead to real action.

If these dashboards are only numbers, percentages, and acronyms like CSAT or NPS, they are missing what really connects those numbers with action. Leaders don’t invest in graphs and charts, they invest in real change.

Make sure your dashboards and data delivery include room for customer stories. These can be simple, like customer quotes that show real emotion. Or they can be more complex, like sharing a video of a customer telling their story.

Connecting with the real emotion of human stories will do more to get leaders and others to appreciate the importance of the customer experience. Emotions create action. Don’t underestimate the importance of stories to help you succeed!

2. Share your mission moments!

One of my favorite ways to include storytelling is to ask for mission moments to start any team meeting.

Mission moments are stories of when the customer journey delivered (or didn’t deliver) on the customer experience mission.

It’s a simple way to remember not just customer stories but also how specific actions are connected to delivering on your customer experience mission.

It’s also an easy thing to do. Once it gets going, it simply becomes the way you start a meeting!

It doesn’t have to be complicated: One client’s mission was about “going beyond” in all they did. So their mission moments included stories of how a delivery driver worked late to get an important supply to a customer, or how their estimating team came in before a deadline to help deliver for a client.

At your next CX meeting, ask someone to bring a mission moment. And get creative! Mission moments happen both inside and outside the organization.

3. Promote peer recognition!

Colleagues see their peers doing amazing things. Those same amazing colleagues often don’t toot their own horns. Why not encourage and reward those who recognize others?

Use shoutouts as a regular part of your internal communications, and recognize not just the subject of the praise but also the coworker who noticed. Ask the nominator to share the story of when their peer did something on behalf of your customers.

I’ve found these types of stories often trigger best practices that can be applied to other processes or parts of the journey. Getting peers to step in and look for these stories encourages colleagues to “catch each other doing right.” It’s a great way to encourage a positive workplace and create community.

What should storytelling look like as part of your CX leadership?

Storytelling in customer experience can look like many things, and some of the tools of the trade can be leveraged to share your customer’s story. Better yet, storytelling can also help you gain buy-in from leaders. Collect stories throughout the year to share as an annual wrap-up and show the progress your customer experience strategy has made. And don’t forget to use what may already be available to you, like…

  • Customer Journey Maps: These are designed to tell customer stories!
  • Organic customer feedback: Find quotes and stories in social media, user reviews, and other customer-created content.
  • Customer testimonials, customer calls and video recordings: Use these to start the story!

One of the biggest challenges customer experience leaders have is to gain buy-in from leaders. Storytelling helps capture their attention and understanding in ways other data doesn’t.

You have everything you need to tell better stories. And better stories will give you everything you need!

About Jeannie Walters, CCXP, CSP

Jeannie Walters CCXP CSP small square photoJeannie is an award-winning customer experience expert, international keynote speaker, and sought-after business coach who is trailblazing the movement from “Reactive Customer Service” to “Proactive Customer and Employee Experience.” More than 500,000 people have learned from her CX courses on LinkedIn Learning, and her insights have been featured in Forbes, The Chicago Tribune, The Wall Street Journal and NPR

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