Introduction: Storytelling and the Customer Experience Framework

Welcome to Storytelling for Impact!

Stories have the power to grab attention, transfer knowledge, and influence beliefs and behavior. We all recognize a good story when we hear or see one. But for many people it’s hard to create a story that can hit the mark for a specific business purpose, whether it’s to connect with a customer, lead a team through transformation, find common ground with a stakeholder, or reach a personal goal.

This Storytelling for Impact course is designed to help you become a better business storyteller, particularly in the context of Microsoft CSS and the Customer Experience Framework, and walk you through the process of building an original story.  It is presented by Mario Juarez, a former Microsoft communications leader and professional journalist, who works with companies and individuals to become more effective storytellers.

Two ways to experience this course

You can experience Storytelling for Impact in one of two ways:

  1. Watch the complete workshop. Click here to watch a recorded workshop with a group of CSS employees, recorded recently in Redmond. This gives you the virtual experience of attending a workshop, including interactive exercises. Time: approximately three hours.

  2. Take the course online. Continue through the chapters in this online learning module and work at your own pace through the exercises. Time: approximately two hours.

Before you begin

Please download the Storytelling for Impact workbook here. Print it and use it with the exercises throughout the course. Note that this is recommended whether you choose to watch the complete workshop video or the take online course.

Why storytelling?

Microsoft, like many companies, is investing in storytelling as a way to empower teams and individuals, and realize better outcomes with customers. Storytelling is increasingly recognized as a powerful force for influence and change in the modern business world. Good storytelling helps you engage other people, encourage collaboration, and drive transformation.

Functionally, a story builds bridges of empathy, trust, and share purpose with the people you most need to win over.

How stories engage us

In a world of information overload, constant distractions, and endless noise, storytelling offers a unique way to engage the attention of people who otherwise may tune you out.

Recent advances in science and sociological research illuminate the neurological and biological dynamics of the storytelling process. Let’s take a look…

Research also shows that blood chemistry changes in the experience of listening to a story, specifically in the production of the neurochemical oxytocin (which is related to empathy and love) and the stress hormone cortisol (which arises in the face of conflict) – a powerful mix correlated to changes in behavior related to activities such as charitable giving.

Collectively, these dynamics reveal the power of storytelling to engage attention and interest, far beyond the simple telling of facts or details.

Where does storytelling happen at work?

You might think that storytelling is reserved only for specific moments or places, such as a keynote presentation or a customer video. In fact, storytelling can be integrated across many aspects of your working life. Good storytelling can be a powerful tool in your 1:1 interactions with customers and stakeholders. It can help you land important messages in emails and written reports. And it is essential for creating and delivering all kinds of presentations.

The exercises presented in this course are designed to help you build one specific kind of story: one that you could tell in-person, for anything from a 1:1 conversation to a small or large group. Note that the principles behind the development of this story type apply generally to all.  

Storytelling at Microsoft and across CSS

At Microsoft, storytelling is emerging as a powerful driver of customer engagement and success.

The Microsoft brand is based on our enduring promise: “We empower people to achieve more.” This promise is nurtured with storytelling that focuses on “People of Action” – the customers and partners who are doing amazing things with Microsoft technology (examples include creating inexpensive prosthetics for disadvantaged people, saving endangered species through interactive technology, and developing solutions that improve the environment).

Within CSS, storytelling helps bring the Customer Experience Framework to life across important audiences. We’ll go deep into this in the first chapter of the workshop.

Two Types of Business Stories

As you prepare to build a story, it’s important to understand the two common type of stories we tell in business: the transactional and the transcendent. The transactional story is all about how something works; for example, a process, a feature, a program, or a set of rules. It is often dry, and typically hard to make compelling. By contrast, the transcendent story is a story about how human life is transformed by a product, a service, or other offering (or how a someone suffers due to the lack of it). Business life is full of both stories, and neither should prevail over the other. But it’s critical to understand the characteristics of each and the role each can play in the mix of effective storytelling.

How to build effective business stories

The Storytelling for Impact course gives you a framework for understanding the dynamics of storytelling and then creating original stories that land with targeted audiences. The framework includes three phases: Scope, Create, and Deliver:

Story Journey framework .jpg

Let's get started! 

NEXT: Begin your story journey with the first step: Scope the impact.