Strong customer experience leads to business growth, but it’s up to CX leaders to tell the right story.

A large majority of CEOs (seven out of 10, according to a KPMG study) anticipate a recession will disrupt anticipated growth.

Customer experience leaders should hear this as an alarm. Leaders need to focus on the ways a strong customer experience strategy, focused on the right efforts to drive the best results, is a winning business play in any economic environment.

But those CEOs (and the entire C-suite) will be watching growth metrics carefully. That means proactively and confidently showing how CX drives growth with numbers will be a key skill for any customer experience leader.

Strong customer experience leads to business growth, but it’s up to CX leaders to tell the right story.

Are You Measuring Customer Experience — 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.

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 management. And customer experience leaders get to be the magic storytellers.

Connecting data to true customer stories helps us:

  • Communicate the context behind the numbers, including organizational benefits.
  • Uncover issues and opportunities that metrics don’t always reveal.
  • Discover what actions to take to make meaningful improvements to metrics.
  • Focus on the humanity of customers, leading to better forecasting and innovation.

How to Introduce Storytelling Into Your CX Leadership

Typically, CX leaders are spending a lot of time reporting on metrics. It’s time to leverage those opportunities. Here are three ways to introduce storytelling into your customer experience leadership.

  • Round out your dashboard data.
  • Share mission moments.
  • Promote peer recognition.

1. Round out Your CX 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. One leader, during an executive team update from a CX leader, leaned over to the CEO and asked, “Is our investment really just in making these pretty dashboards? It feels like this is a waste of time.”

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. Better yet, discuss what changes or initiatives are underway thanks to customer feedback. Discuss the business outcomes achieved or desired in context of these customer stories.

Emotions create action. Don’t underestimate the importance of stories here.

2. Share Your Customer Journey 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. This, in turn, leads to discussions about how these acts drive customer loyalty, opportunities for referrals and other business wins.

Get creative. Mission moments happen both inside and outside the organization.

3. Promote CX 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.

This is especially important in times like these, with looming economic uncertainty and high employee anxieties.

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’s 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. Storytelling is your superpower, but only if you use it.