Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Getting Everyone on the Same #CX Page

Image courtesy of Pixabay
How do we ensure that everyone in the organization is on the same page when it comes to customer experience?

My latest post has me thinking about a quote I stumbled upon the other day from Edmund Wilson:  

No two persons ever read the same book.

Wow! Isn't that the truth. 

Think about books you've read; think about books you've discussed, either back in school or with friends or colleagues. I'm pretty sure you all came away with different lessons, interpretations, and favorite characters. You probably loved it, while someone else hated it. You might have been bored with it after two chapters, while others totally related to it. Never mind books... think about conversations you've had. Were they all interpreted the same way by every party involved?

How does this apply to customer experience?

It got me thinking about customer-centricity and getting the organization focused on the customer. How do we get everyone on the same page? How do we ensure that everyone is reading the same book?

A few tools you can use within your organization include:

Employee CX Assessment: I wrote about this last month. Use it to find out what employees know about the customer and the customer experience? Then use the results to better frame our training efforts and to provide other (the right) tools needed to ensure employees have a clear line of sight to customers and are equipped to deliver the experience we need (and customers want) them to deliver.

CX Vision: Your customer experience vision will be inspirational and aspirational; it will outline what you see as the future state of the customer experience. It will briefly describe the experience you plan to deliver. And it will serve as a guide to help choose future courses of action. It should align with your corporate vision.

Corporate Vision: An inspirational and aspirational statement, your vision not only outlines what the company is trying to achieve near-term and long-term but also guides decision-making processes and your subsequent, resultant course of action. Presumably, your vision will (a) draw the line between what you're doing and for whom you're doing it and (b) create alignment within the organization.

Brand Promise: A brand promise is the expectation you set with your customers; it's a promise you make to your customers. Everything you and your employees do should reflect this promise. Consistently. It’s a combination of the brand purpose and the reality of what the brand can deliver. In most cases, defines the benefits a customer can expect to receive when experiencing your brand at every touch point.

Core Values: Your core values are guiding principles for your employees; they outline which behaviors and actions are right and which are wrong, both for your employees and toward your customers. Everything you do must be aligned with your values, and they should be integrated into everything you do.

Purpose: It's your reason for being, your Why. Customers buy from brands with which they align; similarly, employees want to work for companies with which they are aligned. Make sure everyone in the organization understands your Why.

Journey Maps: A journey map is the ultimate tool to help everyone understand the customer and his experience, to walk in his shoes. Journey maps also connect employees to how they contribute to - and impact - the customer experience.

Personas: Personas help put the experience in the customer’s perspective and make you think about the customer as a “real human.” They help everyone understand the customer and keep people from forming their own opinions about who the customer really is.

What other tools have you used to get everyone on the same page when it comes to customer experience?

If you feel like you're not on the same page as me, maybe it's time to change the story. - Unknown

Friday, May 22, 2015

CX Journey™ Musings: Building Your #CX Cathedral

Image courtesy of Pixabay
In your CX work, do you focus on the big picture or just on the task at hand?

At the CXPA Insight Exchange in San Diego a couple weeks ago, the keynote speaker for the first day of the event was Derrick Hall, President and CEO of the Arizona Diamondbacks. I wasn't really sure what to expect; was this going to be  another Moneyball-type speech? Nope. It was far from that! He made us laugh, and he made us cry. He was a great storyteller and quite inspirational.

 One of the stories he told was worthy of sharing because I think it makes such a great point. It reminds us of a trap that I think many companies fall into: "small-picture thinking" or "in-the-moment thinking." They get so lost in what they're doing that they forget why they're doing it.

Here's the story...

A man came upon a construction site where three people were working.  He asked the first worker, “What are you doing?” and the man replied: “I'm laying bricks.” He asked the second worker, “What are you doing?” The man said: “I'm building a wall.” As he approached the third, he heard him humming a tune as he worked and asked, “What are you doing?” The man stood up, looked at the sky, and smiled, “I'm building a cathedral.”

Sometimes we get so focused on the tasks that we're doing, all the little tactical things, that we forget about the big picture, what it's all for. What's the outcome? What are we trying to achieve overall?

That story reminded me of a couple of quotes:

People don't want to buy a quarter-inch drill. They want a quarter-inch hole. -Theodore Levitt

If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses. -Henry Ford

I think you can look at the bricklayer story from two different angles:

1. The customer perspective: Does the customer really know what he needs? It's less about what he needs than it is about what job he is trying to do. To improve the experience, to meet customer expectations, we must first understand what the customer is trying to achieve (He's trying to make a quarter-inch hole.). Then and only then can we design and deliver a better solution.

2. The company perspective: As we go about developing and executing on our customer experience strategies, we need to remember the big picture. While we're fixing processes and touchpoints here and there, we must remember to connect that to the over-arching objectives: to create and nurture customers and to deliver a great experience at every touchpoint along the journey, for the life of the relationship.

What's your take on the story? Is this an issue in your company? How do you inspire big-picture thinking in your company?

The trick to forgetting the big picture is to look at everything close-up. The shortcut to closing a door is to bury yourself in the details. -Chuck Palahniuk

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Making Sense of Customer Words

Image courtesy of Pierre Metivier
I originally wrote today's post for Confirmit in May 2013. I've made some modifications.

How do you make sense of your customers' words?

There are not only a ton of different customer listening posts these days, but the types of customer data are equally as varied and voluminous. Data come in all different shapes and sizes: structured, unstructured, solicited, unsolicited…oh my! A lot is written about survey data and analyzing structured quantitative data, but let’s take a look at unstructured data.

What is unstructured data?

According to Wikipedia, unstructured data is: information that either does not have a pre-defined data model or is not organized in a pre-defined manner. Unstructured information is typically text-heavy, but may contain data such as dates, numbers, and facts as well. This results in irregularities and ambiguities that make it difficult to understand using traditional programs as compared to data stored in fielded form in databases or annotated (semantically tagged) in documents.

Techopedia puts it into simpler terms: Unstructured data represents any data that does not have a recognizable structure. It is unorganized and raw and can be non-textual or textual.

We know this much: unstructured data comes from a variety of sources, i.e., customer feedback (surveys, etc.), employee feedback about their own experience or about the customer experience, call center interactions, account manager conversations, blogs, tweets, shares, online reviews, medical records, books, and more.

You have a ton of great data from, and about, your customers, but how do you make sense of it all? How do you glean insights from all of the unstructured data that you’ve amassed?

The answer: get yourself a great text mining or text analytics tool. In its simplest form, text analytics tools turn your qualitative data into quantitative data, thereby allowing you to use that data for cross-tabbing, filtering, and a variety of other analytical approaches. Text analytics tools are not a manual approach to making sense of the data; they take a machine approach to categorizing comments and identifying sentiment of customer comments and other unstructured textual data.

I think it's pretty fair to say that I’ve simplified the definition and that there’s much more to it than that.

Other than the obvious "making sense of something that doesn't make sense" reason, why else use text analysis tools?
  1. You can shorten your surveys by asking open-ended questions, knowing that you’ll have some systematic (and not manual) way to transform and analyze the data.
  2. The trade-off to shortening surveys is that you get more robust feedback in the respondent’s own words, rather than in words that you selected.
  3. Once open-ended data is categorized, it can then be used for deeper analysis with your existing quantitative data.
  4. When you’re analyzing call center or social media conversations, for example, you may identify current or emerging issues long before they would have ever been uncovered otherwise.
  5. Most importantly, on a survey, asking follow-up, open-ended questions is necessary to understanding why something happened and to understand in the customer's voice what would make the experience better for him. We need to continue to ask these open-ended questions, but we need a more simplistic and automated way to analyze those responses.
There's a caveat and a balance with all of these. There really is nothing like reading verbatims to get the tone, the pain, the delight, the rich detail of the experience. I would strongly advise continuing to do that. But I also know that when there are thousands of data points, that's difficult to do.

So, let me shift to surveys for the moment and say, just because you have a way of analyzing and categorizing your qualitative data doesn’t mean you can ask more open-ended questions on a survey. You still need to be conservative with your approach here, and more importantly, ask direct questions that elicit direct responses, i.e., responses that actually tell you what you need to know rather than just vagaries and ambiguous responses. The “garbage in-garbage out” rule still applies.

The words. Why did they have to exist? Without them, there wouldn't be any of this. -Markus Zusak, The Book Thief

Friday, May 15, 2015

CX Journey™ Musings: Providing a Human Experience

Image courtesy of Pixabay
Have you ever had an idea that needs a little boost to get to fruition?

Every once in a while, I get some random thoughts and ideas or some things that I question or ponder - and may not necessarily have enough content to write a full post or enough time to develop the concept. I've jotted down a bunch of these thoughts and haven't done anything with them. Time to throw them out into the universe! Introducing CX Journey™ Musings.

What are musings? According to Google, they are a period of reflection or thought. That's a good way to sum up what these CX Journey Musings will be: not a fully-developed post but a piece that introduces a thought that needs to be developed or that I hope inspires you to reflect, pause, and add your thoughts.

I'm starting with something that came up during a workshop I facilitated a few weeks ago. I actually do have a post started and saved in my Drafts folder on this very topic that I'll finish and publish in the near future, but I wanted to get some thoughts out there in the meantime.

The Topic
Aren't we all customers? Aren't we all employees? Aren't we all human?

It seems that companies are so focused on creating and enforcing policies and procedures, making money, appeasing shareholders, and tripping over themselves to do all of the above that they forget that not only are we in this for customers but that we are also all customers and employees. We are all human.

If you respect the customer as a human being and truly honor their right to be treated fairly and honestly, everything else is much easier. -Doug Smith

Why can't we do right by ourselves? What does it mean to provide a human experience? How do we define that?

Why can't we use that fact - that we are all customers, employees, human - to design and to deliver an experience that makes us all feel good? I suppose the problem is that everyone defines "what makes them feel good" differently. But, I can guarantee you that in no way, shape, or form does this customer service experience (click link to see what I'm talking about) make anyone feel good.

We don't technically interact with companies when we call for support, get trained, have a product installed, or shop in a store. So should we stop blaming "companies?" We interact with people. People buy from people. People leave managers not companies. We trust recommendations from family and friends over advertising. Should we start pointing fingers at people when the experience falls down? Who are those people?

And as employees, we should ask ourselves questions like:
  • How do we want to feel when we shop and interact?
  • How do we want to be treated as a customer? 
  • Would my customers appreciate that?
  • Do I treat my customers that way?
  • How do we want to feel when we go to work every day?
  • How do we want to be treated as an employee?
  • Do I treat my staff that way?
I suppose we ought to consider both the Golden Rule and the Platinum Rule. How should people treat people?

Maybe it goes beyond those rules to just simply doing what's right. But does that mean we need to rely on common sense? And how common is common sense? Maybe that's the problem.

The main thing in life is not to be afraid of being human. -Aaron Carter

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Storytelling is a Trojan Horse for #CX Learning

Image courtesy of dkuropatwa
I originally wrote today's post for Intradiem. It appeared on their blog on November 20, 2014.

What is storytelling, and why is it an important tool to have in your CX Toolbox?

In a post I wrote several months ago, I outlined the 5 Rules for Turning Data into Action for a Better Customer Experience: Centralize, Analyze, Socialize, Strategize, and Operationalize. I have since pulled out details from Analyze and Socialize to create a sixth rule:  Synthesize (or Contextualize).

What does that mean?

Synthesize is really the opposite of analyze. Once data have been broken down and analyzed for better understanding, they are most useful for the end user when they are transformed into insights; those insights are best ingested/digested in the form of a story. That means putting all the pieces of the analysis together to tell a story, putting them into context for those who need to act on it - a story that can be easily understood and translated into a better customer experience. Here’s where we tell the audience what a great experience looks like.

The example I like to give is one of a client of mine that was offering repair service in their stores. We listened to customers about the experience and uncovered that there are three activities that had to happen for the customer to leave completely satisfied and likely to recommend (a Promoter). We spun those details into a story for the employees so that they could walk in the customer’s shoes, too, to understand what that experience had to be like. The service they provided improved almost immediately. Employees were able to contextualize/visualize what a great experience looked like. So, rather than using metrics and charts to tell employees what customers want, we spun a story for better understanding

Let me take a few steps back and answer some basic questions about storytelling.

What is storytelling?
Storytelling is a communication tool and a teaching tool. It's a Trojan horse for learning. You can tell stories, and people will listen; they won't even know that they're (supposed to be) learning! Stories allow you to deliver a message in a way that engages people, inspires them, and helps them understand a desired or intended outcome as a result of a series of steps or actions taken.

Why use storytelling in your customer experience management strategy?
Quite simply, storytelling is a tool to gain buy-in, whether it's from executives or from the frontline. Storytelling can facilitate delivering an impact from both the emotional and the rational perspective, capturing both the hearts and minds of the intended audience.

I believe that bombarding the frontline with charts, graphs, metrics, and bullet points is not the way to teach them or to inspire them to deliver a great customer experience. Setting an example or being a role model is probably the best way to teach; absent that, when we tell a story about the intended customer experience, it paints a picture of what is expected; we end up taking employees on a journey, the customer's journey. And it humanizes the experience.

Stories can also be used to recognize or to reinforce desired behaviors. People connect to stories and, therefore, remember them/the point.

In addition, stories...
  • clarify and help the audience understand
  • give you background information
  • convey what the characters (customers) think, do, feel 
  • bring a concept or experience to life
  • engage the audience (employees)
  • explain the ideal customer experience
  • sell (concepts and products)
  • support change
  • reinforce 
  • motivate and inspire
  • facilitate empathy and understanding
  • help you connect
  • draw the audience into the story, carry you away
  • help the audience relate
  • convey good and bad, successes and failures
  • are memorable
Can anyone be a CX storyteller? Or must it be taught?
I don't believe that everyone is a natural born storyteller. I do think some people need to be taught. Can it be taught? Yes. To some degree. It does take creativity, but if we can develop that creativity, we can teach storytelling.

How do you teach storytelling?
I think we need to break it down into bite-sized chunks. Stories have various components to them, so the teaching begins with those components, including...
  • the usual: who, what, when, where, why
  • the business challenge or problem
  • the customer challenge or problem
  • steps to re-create the challenge or problem
  • the thinking, doing, feeling of the participant
  • the desired actions and outcome, the denouement
 ... and we must also consider...
  • the audience: different audiences require different messages or different levels of detail
  • what's the message; what are you trying to convey
  • how will you tell it
  • how will the audience participate after you tell it
  • how does participation affect the story or change the outcome in the future
I also think that, for teaching purposes, we need to ensure future storytellers...
  • Draw on their own experiences for anecdotes and to help connect with the audience
  • Share their own lessons learned
  • Stay on point and keep it focused/straightforward
This TED talk from storyteller and filmmaker Andrew Stanton (WALL-E, Toy Story, and more) provides the clues to a great story. It's worth the watch, if you want to learn how to tell a story. summarizes his seven clues to a great story:
  1. Know your punchline, your ending. Everything in your story is leading to one resolution.
  2. The number one rule of a good story is to make your audience care. All of these rules help to accomplish this.
  3. Make a promise. Promise the reader (or listener, or viewer, or whatever) that the story will be worth their time. This will propel you from the start to the end of the story.
  4. Hide the fact that your reader will have to do some of the work themselves. “Absence of information draws us in.” You will have to choose the order of events and what to include/exclude, but your audience connects to the story when they have to figure things out for themselves.
  5. It’s alright to nod to a grand design. In Lawrence of Arabia, Stanton points out a scene that directly asks the protagonist, “Who are you?” This is the theme of the whole film. Have a theme.
  6. If it's possible, allow your audience to surrender to wonder. This is the secret sauce of the best stories.
  7. Focus on your personal strengths as you tell your story. Use what you know.
In your organization, do you use stories to teach? How do you tell your customer experience stories?

Storytelling is the most powerful way to put ideas into the world today. -Robert McKee

Thursday, May 7, 2015

The Future of Customer Experience

I'm blogging again today (note: I wrote this yesterday but didn't get a chance to publish it) from the Customer Experience Professionals Insight Exchange in beautiful San Diego, CA. The event takes place at the Hotel del Coronado, and if you've never been, it's a wonderful venue. Before you arrive at the hotel, you'll fall in love with the amazing view as you cross the bridge to get onto Coronado Island! The hotel, which sits on the beach, is quirky (slanted rooms and stairs to nowhere - be sure to ask the staff about the history of the hotel) and romantic at the same time.

Today's blog assignment is to capture the essence of the day's keynote by CXPA Co-Founder and (former) Chair, Bruce Temkin. I note that he's a former Chair because, just yesterday (Tuesday), he stepped down (his term ended) and passed the baton to Karyn Furstman. Bruce's keynote is titled, The Future of Customer Experience. Here's a synopsis of his presentation.
Where is customer experience on its maturity path and where is it heading? CXPA Chairman and customer experience visionary Bruce Temkin will share some of his research on the future of customer experience, and engage attendees through an interactive session on the topic.
On to the highlights...

Bruce started off his presentation with answering: What is customer experience? He defined it with three attributes:
  1. Success: the degree to which customers can accomplish their goals
  2. Effort: the difficulty or ease of accomplishing those goals
  3. Emotion: how the interaction makes customers feel
The problem today is that most organizations focus on success and not so much on the others. Which begs the question: How great will the experience really be if our focus is on only a third of what comprises a customer's experience? Companies must understand, track, and design for success, effort, and emotion.

How are companies doing? You can find out by checking out the 2015 Temkin Experience Ratings, which are available free on In a nutshell, most companies are mediocre at customer experience. As a customer experience professional, this means a lot of job security!

This was the first year that Bruce saw drops in scores. He offered up two reasons, one of which is the real answer.
  1. Companies are getting worse and are looking at customers and the experience less than before.
  2. Customer are more aware of experiences and are raising the bar, raising standards; companies aren't keeping up with customer expectations.
Yea... #2.

Companies need to step it up and accelerate improvements to keep up with, or get ahead of, expectations. They can't keep doing the same things or using the same tools.

Bruce then spelled out five key customer experience trends.

1. Anticipatory Experiences
Your customers are on a journey, so help them. If we know customers are on a journey, we need to move with - and ahead of - them to keep up with and on track with their expectations. He gave the example of when a USAA member calls to submit a change of address. Since their members are military, they know that this address change likely comes with a larger life change, as well. So agents ask members other questions to determine an appropriate solution and experience for them. They might ask during that call if the member is going on active duty. If so, then why should he/she pay insurance for a car they won't be driving while overseas. They ask members other questions, too, with the general goal of helping them through life: do you have life insurance? do you want to put your insurance on hold? have you executed a power of attorney? etc. USAA's mission is all about financial security for the member and his/her family. Why do they do this? "Because sometimes an address change is more than an address change."

2. Mobile First
Bruce shared a graphic of how we think of mobile today versus mobile first thinking.

Today --> Mobile First
enable mobile --> design for mobile
isolated mobile --> integrated mobile
process extension --> process redesign

We must design processes and the customer experience as if there's always a mobile device in hand.

3. Value as a Service
People will get access to products and capabilities as they need them. Examples he gave: Uber, Airbnb, Zipcar, elance, and TaskRabbit.

4. Continuous Insights
Customers interact with us continuously. Business operate continuously. The environment constantly changes. But... we survey them once a year or once in a while.

"The notion of annual planning is a joke."

We need to ensure we have: the right insights at the right time in the right format. A more fundamental way to make improvements is to get the facts into the hands of the people who need them - at the right time. It's time to drive businesses to be more adaptive because they (should) evolve based on what we hear every day.

5. Power of Culture
Bruce wholeheartedly agrees with this Peter Drucker quote: Culture eats strategy for lunch.

Culture squelches anything that tries to upset it, like antibodies when a foreign object appears.

Herb Kelleher said:

If you create an environment where the people truly participate, you don’t need control. They know what needs to be done and they do it. And the more that people will devote themselves to your cause on a voluntary basis, a willing basis, the fewer hierarchies and control mechanisms you need.

Leadership tends to operate on a command-and-control mindset, and this is a big issue. Herb Kelleher said he never had control, and he never wanted it. That command-and-control mindset just leads to answering every problem with more processes and more control.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Easier Said than Done: Move the Needle with Your Customer Experience Strategy

I'm blogging today from the Customer Experience Professional Association's (CXPA) Insight Exchange in San Diego. In addition to the local networking events that local CXPA teams host around the country, this event is the annual membership gathering with an agenda filled with great speakers, awesome member-to-member exchanges of tools and ideas, awards, networking, and more.

I've been involved in the planning of this event the last couple years; this year, I was tasked with lining up bloggers (in addition to myself) to capture highlights of the presentations and podcasters to get the real scoop from speakers in audio.

My first blog assignment is to bring you some nuggets from the second keynote of Day 1 of the event, a presentation titled, Easier Said than Done: Move the Needle with Your Customer Experience Strategy, by Erin Wallace, CCXP, Global Manager of Customer Experience at John Deere. A quick synopsis of her presentation:
Customer Experience leaders are responsible for proactively enabling and embedding customer-focused decision making in their organizations. But…"How do I get my executives on board?" "Where should I focus first?" "What about the areas I don't have control over?" ... are challenging questions making us think our strategies are easier said than done. Erin shares specific methodologies, approaches, and proven practices that have moved the needle at John Deere by enabling success in areas of strategic planning, governance, executive buy-in, analytics, VoC, and MoT design and delivery.
Let's dive in to her presentation.

Erin started with stating John Deere's admirable goal: to earn customers for generations. And then shared a video to hit home their purpose, which echoed this goal.

John Deere is an evolving organization because their customers are changing (or have changed over the years). Previously, the brand was all about the big bad machines - the bigger and the badder, the better. But their customers are much more diverse now, and they need to adapt and evolve with them.

Erin went from a CX management role to a CX measurement role, charged with transforming a 15-year-old customer satisfaction program to a CX measurement and management program. To start the transformation, John Deere had to evaluate where they are in terms of CX maturity. She evaluated vision and strategy, program design and metrics, organization and governance, and process and tools. Doing so uncovered gaps in all areas. One of the biggest challenges was communicating this back to the organization - in a language they could understand.

Her solution: to say to the organization that we would never design a new product without the following items, so why would we do it for customer experience.
  • Clear ownership or accountability
  • Strong foundation
  • Design for use, clear definition for how it will be used
  • Standard process (to ensure effective and consistent measurement and management)
  • Prioritized needs (Would we design a product based on something one customer said or needed? No. So why would we launch a survey because one person said we need one?)
Image courtesy of bradleyconway615
 How else did she communicate? Tractor talk! She put the CX program requirements into a language they could relate to. Think of a picture of a tractor, as she explains...
  • Steering wheel: organization and governance
  • Windshield: clear vision
  • Wheels: process and tools (e.g., journey maps, surveys)
  • Engine: measurement progress
Like the tractor needs these to move and do what it's meant to do, the optimal CX program has all of these in place.

Messaging around organization and governance:
  • Engage Hearts: executive and employee buy-in
  • Inform Minds: change how we think about the customer
  • Move Our Feet: take action
They use journey mapping (they are a Touchpoint Dashboard client) and MOT (moment of truth) mapping (to gain alignment and to facilitate design thinking) and analysis. The roadmap around these two key tools includes:
  • explore the journey
  • identify moments of truth
  • prioritize moments of truth
  • measure moments of truth to identify pain points
  • improve CX at each moment of truth
To close out the session, Erin outlined their key learnings as follows.

1. You can't replace executive-level support. If you don't have it, do the financial impact analysis needed to gain it. Be sure to tie CX data to operational measures.

2. Focus on how to embrace, leverage, and embed CX into your company's culture - don't focus on changing it.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Tell Your Change Story

Image courtesy of Pixabay
When you're ready to make or introduce a change in your organization, how do you tell employees about it? Or do you?

Last week, I wrote about some research that McKinsey did on organizational transformations. One of the findings was that communication is key to a successful transformation. (This seems to be a no-brainer, but you'd be surprised.)

How successful? McKinsey reports:
At companies where senior managers communicate openly and across the organization about the transformation’s progress, respondents are 8.0 times as likely to report a successful transformation as those who say this communication doesn’t happen. Good communication has an even greater effect at enterprise-wide transformations, where company-wide change efforts are 12.4 times more likely to be successful when senior managers communicate continually.
One of the questions that executives were asked as part of this research was whether or not they used a consistent change story to align the organization around the transformation's goals. The finding?
This type of communication is not common practice, though. When asked what they would do differently if the transformation happened again, nearly half of respondents (and the largest share) wish their organizations had spent more time communicating a change story.
We know that stories are not only a powerful communication vehicle but also an important teaching tool. Stories allow you to deliver a message in a way that engages people, inspires them, and helps them understand a desired or intended outcome as a result of a series of steps or actions taken. So it's not surprising that stories become an important tool in your communication toolbox.

Why tell a change story as opposed to some other way of communicating the changes, like dictating what's about to happen, which happens all too often? Dictating change is going to be faced with resistance, no doubt; stories, on the other hand, not only teach but also...
  • clarify and help employees/your audience understand
  • give background information
  • convey what the characters (employees, customers) think, do, feel
  • bring a concept or experience to life
  • engage employees
  • explain the ideal experience
  • sell (concepts and products)
  • support and reinforce the need for change
  • motivate and inspire
  • facilitate empathy and understanding
  • make people want to care
  • help employees connect
  • draw employees in, want to be a part of it
  • help employees relate
  • convey good and bad, successes and failures
  • are memorable
It's not enough to just tell a story. You need to tell a specific story, and it needs to communicate:
  • the change, the vision
  • its purpose/raison d'etre
  • the intended outcome
  • employees'/participants' part in executing
  • impact on participants
  • impact on corporate culture
  • impact for customers and their experience
  • impact on the business
Communicate early and often. Keep the story going. As changes are made, update the story. But keep telling it.

Stories are the single most powerful tool in a leader’s toolkit. -Howard Gardner