Angela’s team was rapidly growing. It was a good problem to have, but it also came with a few challenges.
Most of her team worked remotely, making it difficult to build team cohesion. Angela’s company was just a few years old, which meant that policies, procedures, and even the product changed rapidly.
She knew she wanted to build a service culture in her organization. The question was where to start?
Angela came to me for advice and I shared the same suggestion I will share with you. The first step toward building a service culture is to unify everyone around a shared definition of outstanding service called a customer service vision.
Why a customer service vision is necessary
It can be difficult to get everyone on the same page when it comes to customer service. Employees all have their own ideas about what great service looks like. People in non-customer facing roles such as accounting or IT may not even think about customers at all.
A customer service vision acts as a compass that points everyone in the same direction.
One of the customer-focused organizations I profiled in “The Service Culture Handbook” is the Center for Sustainable Energy, which runs the Clean Vehicle Rebate Project in California. This is a program that gives California residents up to $7,000 for the purchase of a qualifying “green” vehicle such as a hybrid car or SUV.
Many of the employees who work there are passionate about the environment. For them, buying an energy efficient vehicle is an obvious choice.
This is not necessarily the case with their customers. Some truly care about the environment when they buy an electric vehicle, while others are more motivated by the financial incentive, the ability to use the carpool lane on the freeway, or even by the image associated with driving a trendy car like a Tesla.
I worked with the team to create a customer service vision that would get everyone on the same page while focusing on the value they were truly delivering to their customers. Here’s what they came up with:
“Make it easy to join the clean vehicle movement.”
That simple statement became a beacon that unified the team around a common purpose. It is inclusive of all customers who want to purchase a clean vehicle, regardless of their motivation. Employees understand the best way to get more people to join the movement is to make it easy.
This translates to how they serve their customers each day. Employees patiently walk customers through the rebate process. They re-designed the website to make it more intuitive. And the team even improved support for car dealerships since many customers learned about the program from the salesperson who sold them their car.
How to write a customer service vision
Here are three steps to writing a good statement that employees will embrace.
Step 1: Gather employee input
It is critical that all employees have a chance to weigh in if you want people to embrace the vision. You can do this with surveys, focus groups, or town halls. I like to ask employees to describe what they want customers to think about when customers think of the service they received.
When I did this exercise with the Clean Vehicle Rebate Project team, the most consistent themes were “helpful” and “friendly.” This gave us a great starting point to write the vision.
Step 2: Write the vision
I have found through trial and error that the ideal group to wordsmith the vision consists of seven to 10 people. This should be a cross-functional team that represents various levels of the organization from executives to frontline employees. The idea is that everyone in the room will have a unique perspective to offer. The process generally takes about two hours when you use a facilitator.
The goal is to draft a customer service vision statement that meets three criteria:
- It is simple and easily understood.
- It is focused on customers.
- It reflects both who you are now and who you aspire to be in the future.
Step 3: Gut check it
There’s a certain amount of groupthink that can happen in these meetings, so I like to immediately gut check the new vision with key stakeholders who were not present.
Examples might include your CEO or other executives, veteran employees, or key advisors or partners. The reaction you are looking for is, “Yes, that’s definitely us!”
That reaction happens about 95 percent of the time. Occasionally, someone will hesitate because the vision statement is not quite right. In my experience, this can be quickly fixed by changing just a word or two.
The terms “on the same page” implies a shared understanding. Writing a customer service vision is an essential part of creating a shared understanding of what great customer service looks like in your company or team.
You can use this toolkit to help you create a customer service vision and share it with employees.
Posted in Customer Service