There's a common criticism about customer service visions.
The perception is you put a lot of work into writing one. Maybe you hire some expensive consultants to run a bunch of focus groups or spend a day on it at an executive retreat. And then...
Employees forget it. Service quality remains unchanged. The vision gathers dust somewhere in an abandoned file. All that time, money, and effort wasted.
The promise of a customer service vision is still real. It's a shared definition of outstanding service. In theory, this is essential to getting everyone on the same page.
The challenge is you need a way to promote the vision to your team. Get them engaged and excited. And, keep it alive for years to come after that initial roll-out.
Here are nine ways you can do it.
9 Ways to Promote the Customer Service Vision
#1 Set SMART Goals
Many customer service teams use metrics to manage their performance. You can incorporate your vision into your daily work by setting a SMART goal for at least one of your metrics.
SMART is an acronym:
Relevant <----- Here's where you connect your goal to your vision.
You can use this SMART goal worksheet as a guide.
#2 Hire With Your Vision in Mind
It will be much easier to get your team on-board if you hire people who can naturally identify with your customer service vision.
Create an ideal candidate profile that incorporates your vision
Develop tests to see if job candidates fit the profile
This short video from Shopify is a terrific example of an ideal candidate profile.
#3 Train the Vision
Training is the perfect time to introduce or reinforce the customer service vision. It's not just customer service training. Any training is a good opportunity.
Here are some examples:
New hire training
Customer service training (of course)
New system training
Policy or procedure training
I once had a client who insisted on incorporating their customer service vision into anti-harassment compliance training. Their thinking was that the way co-workers treated each other was a form of customer service, and that treatment would naturally extend to the way they treated customers.
This short video explains how you can incorporate culture into your new hire training.
#4 Empower Employees Through The Vision
Your customer service vision is meaningless if employees aren't empowered to fulfill it.
Last year, I made a list of five reasons why managers don't empower their employees. One reason was employees don't realize what they're empowered to do to help their customers.
One way to overcome this barrier is to ask employees to contribute ideas on how they can fulfill the customer service vision with their customers.
You can use this guide to learn how to empower your employees.
#5 Have Leaders Talk About It
Employees tend to understand something's importance by how often leaders talk about it.
That means if you want your employees to remember the customer service vision, you need to talk about it a lot. As in, every chance you get.
Fortunately, there are many opportunities:
Daily huddles (stand-ups, pre-shifts, tailgates, etc.)
After action discussions
Annual performance reviews
#6 Have Executives Talk About It
Customer service leaders aren't the only people who should promote the customer service vision. Executive leadership should promote the vision too.
At one company I know, the CEO kicks off quarterly all-employee meetings with a review of their customer service vision. He shares specific examples of results and behaviors that match the vision.
This helps employees understand that support for the vision goes all the way to the top.
#7 Create a Culture Page
Many companies create a culture page on their website to describe what it's like to work for them. It's a recruiting tool, but it's also a prime opportunity to promote your customer service vision.
JetBlue has led the airline industry on the American Customer Satisfaction Index for five straight years. Their customer service vision (also their mission) is to inspire humanity.
This is a screen shot from its culture page:
They've also created this short video that describes how they are different. Notice how their mission (a.k.a. customer service vision) plays a starring role.
#8 Involve Your Employees
A fun way to promote your customer service vision is to get your employees involved.
Here's an example from the Center for Sustainable Energy's Clean Vehicle Rebate Project. Their customer service vision is this:
Make it easy to join the clean vehicle movement.
One thing this team did to promote the vision was to ask employees to think of words that described how their co-workers supported the vision. The words were then arranged in a word cloud shaped like a car to showcase their many positive attributes:
#9 Use it to Guide Decisions
There's nothing that can promote your customer service vision faster than using it to guide your decisions.
REI's amazing Opt Outside campaign is an outstanding example. In 2015, the outdoor gear retailer decided to close their stores on Black Friday. This included their online store!
The decision was a clear reflection of their customer service vision:
We inspire, educate and outfit for a lifetime of outdoor adventure and stewardship.
REI's President and CEO, Jerry Stritzke said, "Black Friday is the perfect time to remind ourselves of the essential truth that life is richer, more connected and complete when you choose to spend it outside. We’re closing our doors, paying our employees to get out there, and inviting America to OptOutside with us because we love great gear, but we are even more passionate about the experiences it unlocks."
Bonus Vision Resource
You can learn more about creating and sharing a customer service vision from The Service Culture Handbook.