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Storytelling – Two Essentials for Customer Experience Professionals

The customer experience (CX) local networking group in Indiana recently discussed the topic of storytelling. It is an important topic for any business professional, but based on the discussion, it's particularly relevant for customer experience professionals.

The discussion prompted two key essentials for customer experience professionals:

  1. It's the CX professional's responsibility to ensure the RIGHT stories are told. After listening to a story about a bad delivery experience, the group of customer experience professionals started discussing with a cynical view of storytelling: "That's just one customer," "People tell stories all the time to share their point of view," "That story isn't reflective of what I hear from customers," etc.

    It became clear that storytelling has become so popular (because it's effective at getting attention, creating an emotional connection, and prompting action) that it's prompting a lot of stories – even those that aren't reflective of the real customer experience. As CX professionals, it's our role to know the real customer stories and to make sure those are told. This includes challenging other stories that are being told throughout the organization. The real customer stories are those that represent a significant or important group of customers. They are the priority for the business.
     

  2. The ending should communicate the key message. Our friends at Gravity Drive shared that the ending can be positive or negative and the role of the ending is to bring resolution to the story. The ending cleans up the story and communicates the main point. The ending is the most important part of the story (and perhaps the hardest to get right). It's important to make sure the ending truly reflects the point of the story.
    The End - every story needs a proper end
    For example, the group dissected a story about an individual customer who didn't receive a product on time, but the company wasn't concerned because a) the customer received the product and b) the product wasn't damaged. Without an effective ending, some people might think the story is about on-time delivery, others might think the story is irrelevant because it is only a single customer, and some might think the company is doing a good job because the product wasn't damaged. For this story, an effective ending could be something like, "this story reflects the gap between the way we feel we deliver our products and the way the customer feels when they receive our products." This puts the story in a broader context – beyond a single customer – and demonstrates an important message for business leaders, which is the difference between the way a company evaluates its performance and the way customers evaluate the company. A simple statement that connects the story to the underlying business issue is imperative to making the story relevant to the business.

Walker will be sharing more storytelling tips at the Walker B-to-B CX Summit in September. In the meantime, what are your storytelling suggestions for customer experience professionals?  

About the Author

Leslie Pagel

Leslie Pagel

As vice president of customer experience, Leslie is responsible for incorporating the voice of Walker’s customers into the solutions development process. To do this, Leslie spends the majority of her time interacting with Walker account teams, clients, and prospective clients to understand their business challenges. She coordinates several listening posts that are used to drive strong client relationships and enhance our consulting and technology capabilities.

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