Do you have a Customer Service Manifesto?

Imagine if you could get each person on your team focused on the same vision and commitment to the delivery of the World’s Best experience for each customer. Your company’s service reputation would be broadcast so loudly by all of your customer loyalists that you easily would dominate your competition. So how do you do it? How do you get everyone on your team reading from the same book? Simple. Put it in writing. Literally let them read from the same book.

Create your customer service manifesto. Your manifesto is a declaration of your company’s customer service creed, principles and intentions. Do not confuse this booklet with the employee handbook. The latter defines the legal responsibilities of the company and the employee.  Your manifesto defines your company’s service culture. The employee handbook defines the limitations of personal performance. Your customer service manifesto defines the principles that each team member should aspire to perform. Big difference.

Why is writing your customer service manifesto so important? Review your company’s first day orientation agenda for a new employee. I am sure you will find that, while benefits are reviewed, much more time is spent on company policy – email and social media guidelines, conduct on and off duty, house rules, safety, sexual harassment, and on and on. It’s like saying to a new employee, “Welcome to the company. Now here is how you can get fired.” On the first day, you spend more time explaining the obstacles more than you do how to go above and beyond to wow your customer. What’s wrong with that picture?

Your manifesto will let your employees know that you are committed to service that is not hindered by rules. Discussed separately from the rules and regulations, you initiate new employees to fully grasp the value and importance of customer service. The principles within the manifesto define the level of service to which you wish each employee to aspire. So what are the components for a customer service manifesto? Here you go:

Mission Statement – Your mission statement should answer three simple questions: What do you do? How do you do it? Who is your customer?  Keep it short. Your mission statement should be memorable and easily recitable. Disney offers one of the best examples of a mission statement:  (What do you do?) We create happiness (How do you do it?) by offering the finest in entertainment  (Who is your customer?) for people of all ages, everywhere. It is simple, yet aspirational. What is your mission? Is it memorable? Can your employees get passionate about it?

Your Company Heritage – Most businesses give a new employee a historical timeline of major events. But a heritage is something more. A heritage incorporates the “why” behind the “who, what and when”.  A heritage is the storytelling of the rich tradition of your company. Marriott employees all know the story of newly wed J.W. and Alice Marriott’s trek from Salt Lake City to Washington, D.C., the nine stool Hot Shoppe where J.W sold 5 cent A&W root beer, and the sticky nickels hand carried to the bank by Alice Marriott. What is your company’s story?

Core Values – The core values for Baptist Health Care are Integrity, Vision, Innovation, Superior Service, Stewardship and Teamwork. Yum! Brands employees focus on CHAMPS: Cleanliness, Hospitality, Accuracy, Maintenance, Product Quality, Speed of Service. What are the pillars on which your company is built?

Appearance Standards – To the customer, the employee is the company and first impressions do matter. Your message here should convey that an employee’s appearance should be a reflection of your company’s professionalism and not an employee’s personal style.

Performance Tips – Define the specific behaviors that can guide employees to act courteously with customers in person, on the phone and on-line. Include in this section the forbidden phrases like “Honey, Sweetheart.” “I don’t know.” “You should have . . .” and “To be honest with you . . .” while offering performance expectations such as answering any ringing phone within three rings or an email within 8 hours, as well as using the person’s name at every opportunity. You know how to properly interact with customers. How do you want your employees to act? Tell them by writing it down.

Service Recovery – Marriott Hotels uses the service recovery acronym LEARN: Listen, Empathize, Apologize, Respond, Notify (your supervisor and co-workers so that it does not happen again to future customers). Other businesses use the acronym LAST: Listen. Apologize. Solve. Thank (the customer for bringing the issue to your attention). What are the service recovery steps that you expect every employee to take when confronted with a dissatisfied customer?

Experience Flow Chart – Jan Carlson, then CEO of SAS Airlines, defined a Moment of Truth as “anytime a customer comes into contact with any aspect of a business, however remote . . . to form an impression.” Whether you call it an experience flow chart or experience journey map, plot all the emotional touchpoints of the customer’s experience. The employee can then be more aware of the key opportunities to wow your customers.

Aspiration page – This last page could be customer testimonials, motivational or customer service quotes or a parable like The Starfish Finder. (Google “Starfish Finder” if you haven’t heard of this story). This last page should serve as aspiration that one person truly can make a difference in the experience of a customer.

But merely writing and distributing the customer service manifesto at orientation is not enough. Spend time with the new employee to give your personal interpretation of the meaning and importance of the key components.

Samuel Johnson said, “People need to be reminded more often than they need to be instructed.” Ritz-Carlton established itself as one of the finest luxury hotel brands by mandating a daily line-up where that day’s Ritz Carton Credo card’s performance tip is reviewed. So refer to your manifesto often and ideally discuss daily one item within it  to instill in each employee your company’s mission, values, and performance expectations. And when you do, you will see that each employee will deliver consistently the World’s Best Experience to every one of your customers.

11 Comments

Filed under Customer Service, Training

11 responses to “Do you have a Customer Service Manifesto?

  1. Pingback: Do you have a Customer Service Manifesto? « Serve4Impact

  2. A really informative and interesting article Bill. You raise many important points and provide much sound advice. I have encountered several excellent organisations who subscribe to the key elements you describe, which undoubtedly contributes to their continued success. I also believe that your “manifesto” could form a great game-plan for organisations that currently get some of the elements right but have further to go before they achieve their ultimate goal of delivering truly exceptional customer service. At the very least I think your “customer service manifesto” forms a useful basis for auditing the organisation’s current position and establishing where to direct effort towards improving customer service in the future.
    Great article; thanks for sharing.

    • John, Couldn’t agree with you more with your insight that such a manifesto can serve as the starting point to move a business in the direction of improving its customer service. And I am sure you will agree that merely writing it will not create the culture. It is the day-to-day practice of the mission, values, and performance tips that will really drive every associate to deliver the kind of service for which the company wants to be recognized. Thank you very much for sharing your comments. I really do appreciate it.

      • wisecrow1

        Bill you are so right about the challenge of getting this from writing on paper into actions throughout the organisation. When visiting companies I have found many wonderfully presented business “manifestos” gathering dust on executive book cases. It’s a case of moving it from good intentions into positive actions.

      • For the both of us, this all makes common sense. Our role is to make it common practice for those businesses. Here’s to your continued success in that effort.

  3. Pingback: One Employee Will Kill Your Business and You Won’t Even Know It When it Happens. | BILL QUISENG | Deliver the World's Best Customer Experience

  4. Useful — Thanks!

    Please join my LinkedIn network at: http://www.linkedin.com/in/kovshanovaolga

    Advance Thanks!

    Olga Kovshanova, MBA, MA
    Hotel Professional Extraordinaire
    Sales/Marketing/Management
    Email: olinka@olinka.info
    Professional Website: http://www.olinka.info/
    Skype name: olinkaru
    M: 230-717-5790 evenings
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  5. Pingback: One Employee Can Kill Your Business and You Won’t Even Know It When It Happens | Tall Grass Fine Art

  6. Damien Farrell

    The premise of your excellent article cannot be disputed, and is faultless in it’s articulation; the issue, is not the need to have a manifesto or book to ensure everyone is singing from the same hymn sheet, but to ensure that those that are delivering those hymns know what they mean, understand, live and breath those values to give life to them and to the corporate body however small/large/disparate. And therein the rub as most who ‘deliver’ these values, to those who are at the front line, don’t know their values, don’t understand them and don’t believe them, which breeds confusion, uncertainty, resentment, indifference and scepticism amongst those expected to deliver to the customer. Until ALL levels of responsibility take ownership in a organization, the weakest link scenario will prevail, and the organization will fail.

    • Damien, Very well said. I totally agree with you. The first step is defining the values is by putting it in writing. Thereafter business success is critically dependent on managers “walking the talk.” Without managerial involvement, there is no employee commitment. If managers don’t care about employees, they have employees who care even less about their customers.

  7. Pingback: Viral Wisdom by James Lawther | BILL QUISENG | Deliver the World's Best Customer Experience

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