- Dedication to professionalism
- A culture of customer service
- Leading while supervising
- Coaching and mentoring
- An effective in-house training program
- A pricing system that ensures a fair profit
These are some of the fundamental principles of service management excellence. And one way to integrate them, and be supported by the technicians who perform the service work and provide front-line customer service, is with a staff-developed mission statement: A clear, concise description of what your business does for customers.
If you were to ask people what they think the main goal of a business is, it’s likely that their answers would be something along the lines of “well, that’s simple: make money,” “make a profit,” or “charge enough money so you can stay in business.”
No, these things aren’t the mission.
When a service department develops a mission statement, the idea behind it is that the generating revenue isn’t the company mission, but a by-product of accomplishing that mission. Certainly, paying salaries and suppliers, keeping your service vehicles operating, and other money issues related to keeping your business in business are important, but they’re not the mission.
Here is an example of a basic mission statement for a service organization: “Take care of all our customer’s needs through outstanding service.”
While a mission statement such as this may sound too simple or obvious, consider the MVS method of development.
M: Mission of Your Company
Once a brief and to-the-point mission statement is in writing, simple steps can be taken to establish and maintain it as the underpinning of your business philosophy. It can be a framed poster that employees and customers can note and digest in a few seconds. It can be prominent on an information sheet that’s left with a customer when a service call is completed, or on the back of your company business cards, added to your invoices, or implemented into your on-hold telephone system.
A mission statement helps everyone stay focused on business and customers. When dealing with a customer who is frightened that they’re not getting what they paid for, keeping the mission statement in mind can help keep things cool, laying the groundwork for solving the situation. If a technician ever considers taking a short cut on a repair so they can get on to their next call, remembering the company mission statement will determine whether or not they go ahead. If the idea isn’t a fit, then it shouldn’t be done. They’ll have to find another way, even if it means mustering an extra measure of courage and laying out all the unpleasant details for the customer.
V: Values of Your Company
Values are what you believe in: the right thing to do, morals, or whatever you want to call your basic principles of honesty. In any successful service organization, everyone should have a clear understanding of the established values of the business they work for. And when you take this approach, it not only puts things in perspective for those already working for the company, it helps in the hiring process. You and a prospective employee can decide if you are in total agreement on the company’s mission statement and values, and if the agreement isn’t there, you can avoid the headache of inappropriate hiring and all its associated problems.
S: Strategy of Your Company
Everyone in the organization should be involved in the development of the company mission statement. It simply won’t be the same if it’s decided upon by upper management, and then handed down with the direction for the staff to live by it. The intent of a mission statement is to have everyone in the company have ownership of it, not have it thrust upon them.
The approach here is to have an initial meeting where you let everyone know that you want them to be involved in developing a mission statement. At your second meeting, your task is to let all those involved know that the best way for them to help in getting it done is to understand what their individual purpose is within the operation of the company.
Here are five questions you propose to them so they can consider what their personal purpose would be relative to the company mission statement:
- Do you start most of your workdays with a sense of enthusiasm?
- Do you have a firm understanding of what you are really good at, and what you enjoy doing?
- At the end of most days, do you feel a sense of satisfaction and accomplishment?
- Do you think that the work you do makes a difference in other people’s lives or benefits them in some way?
- Do you feel that your life has a sense of meaning and purpose?
Heavy questions, no doubt. And, there’s also little doubt that when you propose them, some may be uncomfortable answering them in a public environment. That’s okay. When you propose these questions by either listing them on your training room white board or handing them out in a printed form, let everybody know that you don’t expect this information to be shared unless they make the choice to do so.
The goal here is give people something to think about relative to what a mission statement means, and how they would be involved, not only in the development of the mission statement, but the implementation and the sustaining of it in the day-to-day operation of business.
If you get feedback that indicates confusion, discomfort, or even negativity, here are four work-life realities you can point out:
- Reality #1: Almost everybody has bills to pay.
- Reality #2: In order to pay those bills, you have to show up at work and do some work in exchange for the money you need to pay those bills.
- Reality #3: Every task you perform at work may not be pleasant, personally fulfilling, enlightening, and bring you joy.
- Reality #4: When you are at work, some of the things you do should be pleasant, personally fulfilling, and bring you joy.
Pointing out these four things explains that you know things aren’t always perfect, but you want your organization to be able to do the best job possible in taking care of your customers.
As we mentioned, an important point about your company mission statement is that it needs to be as brief as possible. If it’s too long and detailed, it can wind up filed away in a drawer somewhere or displayed in the form of a nice-looking poster that nobody in the organization even sees anymore.
A mission statement could be a simple as three words: ”Exceed Customer Expectations.” Generally, if it’s more than ten words isn’t going to be easy to recall, so keep it short. In as many meetings as it takes to get it developed, get a draft done, then go back for revision, and repeat the process until everyone involved is satisfied that it’s a real fit for the organization.
And then, be prepared. When the moment comes at that final meeting and your mission statement comes to life, everyone in the room will know what just happened. Memories of the effort it took to accomplish the goal will evaporate, while your mission statement will remain as an important component of business, and the development of the technicians you employ.
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