Are you a CX Storyteller?

Is storytelling listed in your job description? Probably not. But maybe it should be.

I have become more and more convinced that the best way to capture attention, be persuasive and encourage action is through storytelling. Storytelling makes an emotional connection that helps us better understand a situation or problem. CX professionals can use storytelling as one of their most effective tools.

Think back to the last time you watched a president deliver a State of the Union address. Here’s a common speech technique – the president states his stance on an issue, explains why it is important and then tells the story of a family (usually present in the audience) who is affected by that issue. It’s brilliant! It transitions from being a political stance to a human issue.

Or consider the advertisements that you see to help children in third-world countries. Instead of sharing research or showing data about how funds will be put to use, they show pictures of children and tell their stories. Suddenly you don’t feel like your money is going to a large non-profit. Instead, it is going to help the child you saw on the screen.

What does this have to do with those who lead customer experience initiatives?

Hopefully, you have already made the reasonably simple connection – you are the advocate for the customer and are constantly called upon to make presentations, lead workshops and spearhead initiatives. One of the most effective ways to capture attention, be persuasive and encourage action is to tell stories of individual customers. 

Here’s one example. My firm consulted with a company that consistently received low ratings for invoicing. And yet, we could not convince them to prioritize this for action. They wrote it off, saying, “Of course scores are low. Nobody likes to receive an invoice.” Later, working with the same company, we facilitated a journey mapping session that involved several customers. One customer arrived with a box in hand. When asked about the box she said she knew we would discuss invoicing as one of the customer touchpoints so she decided to bring an example. “You didn’t need to bring all your invoices,” stated one company representative. “Oh no – this is just the invoice from last month.” The astonished group suddenly prioritized this issue for action!

You may say, “Some people are natural storytellers. It’s just not my thing.” I don’t buy it. There are plenty of easy ways to gather good customer stories. Talk to your customer support team, read open-ended comments from customer surveys or send a note to account managers asking for examples.

So much rides on each presentation you deliver, every workshop you lead and every initiative you spearhead. You owe it to yourself (and your company) to carefully consider the most effective way to communicate – and storytelling can be one of your best tools.

About the Author
Patrick Gibbons

Patrick Gibbons

As Principal and Senior Vice President of Marketing for Walker, Gibbons has global responsibility for definition, branding, and promotion of the company and its solutions. Gibbons has published and/or contributed to a number of articles, papers, and blogs on customer intelligence topics and has a regular column in CRM Magazine. He has been a featured speaker at a wide range of conferences, and has produced a series of educational events for customer experience leaders.
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