Developing Mission, Vision and Guiding Principles in Call Centre Operations Will Improve Customer Service experience
Most organizations have mission and vision statements. Typically, the Mission Statement refers to the company’s purpose, or the reason why it is exists, while a Vision Statement refers to what the organization aspires to be. Even with inspiring mission and vision statements, a gap can exist between the statements and the culture that is actually experienced as you cascade down through the organization.
Employees sometimes struggle to make a connection between these statements and how they impact their day-to-day activities. This is particularly enhanced in Call Centre Operations because, from a customer perspective, all interactions are moments of truth as customers decide whether their service experience is consistent with the brand image. When revenue is down or CSAT is lower than expected, heads turn to call centre operations leaders… and the pressure is on! How can this gap be addressed?
Developing Guiding Principles that Align Company Mission, Vision & Strategy with Call Center Mission, Vision & Strategy
There is an approach that can deliver multiple benefits when developed and implemented properly. This involves creating a specific Mission and Strategic Vision for the Call Centre that is directly aligned to the company’s Mission and Vision as well as developing a Guiding Principles framework for the front-line staff. Doing so can help bridge the gap between high-level corporate expectations and how they are delivered within the call centre.
There are benefits associated with drawing a clear line of site to the Call Centre Operations Mission and Vision, and to that of the broader company Mission and Vision, not the least of which is that it will also aid in improving the culture of the call centre and improve the quality-of-service for customers while empowering front line service agents.
While Guiding Principles can be developed in isolation (i.e. without aligning the Company and Call Centre Operations Mission and Vision statements first) it is more meaningful when a connection is made between the broader Company and Departmental Mission and Vision. It creates meaning and purpose. It supports the company mission and vision at ground level. It can mobilize a team around a greater cause or purpose. That is where the magic happens.
If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything
As the modified quote goes, “If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything.” In the call centre world, we often attempt different fixes, tools and techniques hoping they will address or improve the customer satisfaction or QA scores. The proposed approach starts “big and broad”, drawing the connection between the company Mission and Vision, giving specific purpose, and meaning to the Call Centre Mission and Vision, before “going deep” detailing the principles to guide front line employees. This in turn creates a stronger foundation from which the other fixes, tools and techniques can work more effectively.
Some could say that if there is a company mission and vision already creating one for the Call Centre isn’t necessary. However, remember the company mission and vision remains and does not change. It aligns or draws a line of sight between the company Mission (purpose and why exists) Vision (what aspires to be) and that of the call centre. It helps make sense of the corporate-wide mission and vision at ground level.
Once the Call Centre Mission and Vision have been created, the next step is the adoption of Guiding Principles. These will help describe the behaviours that the front-line staff will do support the stated mission and vision.
What are Guiding Principles?
Guiding Principles are a set of beliefs and values put in a framework and used as a standard of behaviour. In this context, Guiding Principles instill core values in each member of a team and provide front line agents with a framework for autonomous decision making and the treatment of customers. They help foster a customer focussed culture because everyone understands what’s important and the span of control to service customers. It takes away the guess work.
Since Guiding Principles empower call centre staff to make decisions, take accountability, and resolve customer issues, authority levels may need to be reviewed and additional ways to resolve certain situations developed. This may seem risky for fear that agents will overcorrect or misuse the authority. Along with developing the Guiding Principles, provide them with the additional parameters and then empower and trust them. It is far easier to address the one-off time they may go too far than to restrict them.
Benefits of Guiding Principles
Guiding principles empower staff:
- Gives employees a sense of empowerment to do right by the customer
- Gives employee confidence to make decisions
- Clearly provides staff with the guidelines in which they can make decisions
- Encourages employees to take accountability for issues where there may be exceptions to the usual policy
Guiding Principles are relatively static:
- They are timeless and don’t change unless there are significant to the company or Call Centre Mission or Vision or at the organizational level
Impact the culture of the call centre:
- Guiding Principles can uncover long standing blockages that inhibit front line agents from doing the right thing for customers and where everyone understands what is important.
- Can be especially impactful to unify a large call centre on where there are multiple call centres in a larger organization with different operations leadership.
Tips on Guiding Principles:
- Avoid a laundry list of guiding principles. Somewhere between 5-8 but no more than 10 bullet points. Keep them very clear, succinct.
- They can be grouped into a few broader categories with the bullet points under each
or grouped under brand pillars, tag lines etc.
Considerations in developing Mission, Vision and Guiding Principles for the Call Centre:
- Don’t develop the Call Centre Vision and Mission statements or Guiding Principles in isolation. Take the time to brainstorm or conduct focus groups with a mix of management and the front line. Good things will come out of this kind of activity.
- Communicating with all staff that this initiative will be undertaken and involving them in the process will pay dividends in terms of getting buy in once they are finalized.
- Develop a ‘Guiding Principal’ document to guide agents with their decisions during customer contact and invest the time to conduct workshops and training of all staff.
- Institutionalize ‘Guiding Principles’ and incorporate them into all existing and new procedures, training programs, QA and post call CSAT etc.
- Don’t bury the Mission Vision and Guiding Principles for your centre once they are developed, make the visible as reminders and to be re-enforced.
- Remember to measure the improvement. Look for improvement in CSAT, QA, FCR, reduced complaints and escalations and increased customer testimonials.
- Have fun with it. Reinforce the new guiding principles with some rewards, or recognition to staff who share their success stories.
As an alternative approach, aligning brand pillars or brand promise to the Guiding Principles can also be used either instead of the Mission and Vision connection or in addition to.
Whichever path you choose, the idea is to bring to life the essence of what the organization aspires to be (through the Company and Call Centre Operations Mission and Vision statements and/or Brand) to practical and applicable terms (through the Guiding Principles) for the front-line staff.
To find out more about how Taylor Reach can help your company with alignment, mission, and vision, CLICK HERE to schedule a free consultation.