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How to Develop a Customer Service Vision

I know what you may be thinking.  Yet another meaningless corporate rah-rah statement for me to forget about in a week!?  I’m with you.  Two years ago, I would have been in the same state of mind – but before you do your best Judge Judy eye roll and surf on, I challenge you to give this concept a chance.  There are few things this remarkably simple with such a huge ROI potential for our teams.

It was an ICMI workshop by the one and only Jeff Toister that first turned me on to the concept of a Customer Service Vision.  Since that time, the truth of his statements have taken root and evolved into a new mindset for me.  This is not a rewording or a replacement for your company’s vision statement….quite the opposite in fact.  In many ways, it’s like a completion.

Service vision

Our most powerful motivation lever as leaders is to create meaningful work directly tied into the company’s purpose.  Sadly, according to CX luminary Scott McKain, two thirds of an organization’s employees has no idea what makes their organization unique.  Part of the reason is that company vision statements are often distant and irrelevant to what actually transpires in the life of an employee.  A Customer Service Vision Statement is your opportunity to bridge this gap and channel purpose into everything from quality management, to coaching conversations, to rewards and recognition.

Hopefully the why is now clear.  Next up, we have the what and the how: what our service vision is - and how to create your very own.

The UL EHSS Customer Service Vision:

“Supporting our customers and each other in a manner that’s effortless, accurate, and friendly.”

That’s it.  You may be thinking “how silly to write a 700+ word blog about a 14 word statement.”  Well, I’m a silly guy.  I also believe the best vision statements are short enough to actually remember.  Let me unpack this statement briefly, as it will help your thought process as you go about creating your own.

“Supporting our customers and each other” - The key phrase here is “each other.”  We sometimes push a customer focus to the point where we blind ourselves to the simple fact that Customer Service is a team sport.  When a culture is established where agents go out of their way to help each other, your ability to assist customers increases exponentially.  Make the privilege of serving one another a big deal.

“Effortless” – For our demographic, great customer service is all about facilitating resolutions quickly and easily.  When we can get our administrators back to work with minimal drama, we’ve done our jobs well.  There’s no “wow” moment required and “delight” rarely leads to increased customer loyalty (view Customer Effort vs Delight blog here).

“Accurate” – The keyword is knowledge, which enables accuracy.  A support organization is really only as good as its ability to create, curate, and distribute knowledge.  We are working hard to become a “KCS” or knowledge-centered support team.  We also create a culture of life-long learners.  Everyone should be continually growing in his or her knowledge and abilities.

“Friendly” – In a world overrun by IVR’s, chat bots, and automated messages, our support team places a huge emphasis on the human element.  We are just people supporting other people after all.  While we strive to be knowledge experts, we characterize a more personable tone in our phone interactions and beyond.  Agents are highly encouraged to be themselves and engage in real life dialog with interested customers.

So that’s us!  Now it’s your turn.  Here are a few helpful guidelines and questions you should ask yourself when creating your own Customer Service Vision Statement:

Create It Together – What makes your company unique?  What makes your contact center unique?  I highly encourage you to ask these questions to your whole team.  Get them involved in the very beginning as you create this statement.  This will build ownership across the team versus another “top-down” communication they need to delete.

Brand Voice – You will want your Customer Service Vision to coincide not just your company’s vision, but also your brand voice.  As Sarah Steely Reed taught me, there is great power in having a consistent brand voice across marketing, sales, and support.  This will reduce the number of mixed messages being given to agents and ultimately to your customers.  It may be a good idea to get marketing involved in this exercise!  Just remember to keep it short and memorable.

Pound It Home – Once you’ve worked with the team to establish your magic statement, find a way to celebrate it!  Having a “vision lunch” or something similar will help to kick things off right.  Repetition is essential.  Have it printed on something like a mug or sign that reps will physically see on a daily basis.  As leaders, use the statement often in coaching conversations, team meetings, and as part of quality assurance.  If you’re not intentional about giving the CS vision statement meaning, it will die off faster than your favorite character in Game of Thrones.

And that’s it!  If you get stuck, don’t hesitate to reach out to me for a quick brainstorm. I'll be speaking at ICMI Contact Center Expo. Will you be there, too? Let's meet in person!

One of my favorite things about having a CS Vision Statement is the consistency.  Goals and objectives will come and go, but the Vision Statement is always there providing inspiration for important decisions.