When Do You Need a Customer Service Vision Facilitator?
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My client had been working on creating a customer service vision for several months.
For the uninitiated, a customer service vision is a shared definition of outstanding customer service that acts as a compass to point all employees in the same direction. Creating one is an important first step towards developing a strong service culture.
The challenge was my client’s executive team could not agree on the wording. There were multiple drafts that felt close, but it still wasn’t quite right.
That’s when the client hired me to facilitate the process. After two hours, we had a customer service vision statement that the President and CEO both loved.
Hiring a professional facilitator is not the right move for every organization. It can be costly or you might already have someone internal who is capable. Here’s when you should consider it.
Situation #1: You’re Stuck
Some teams, like the client I mentioned above, get the process started and then become stuck.
I shared the process I use for writing a customer service vision in this blog post and in The Service Culture Handbook. The steps can appear deceptively simple, though there are some pitfalls along the way.
For example, one customer service leader told me she had gathered some employees for a vision writing session and the group came up with two good but very different statements. Now she was having a difficult time merging the two together into one clear vision.
This is one of the most difficult parts of the process, in my experience. It’s also an example of where a professional facilitator should be able to help your team get unstuck.
Situation #2: You’re in a Hurry
Companies sometimes spend months on creating a customer service vision. The typical process I use with clients takes about two weeks:
- We gather input from employees via a survey
- A group of 7-10 employees meet to write the vision
- I help my client create a plan to share the vision
Step two, the vision writing meeting, typically takes just two hours.
It can take a deft touch, particularly during the vision writing meeting, to gently move people forward. There have been many times when the group has wanted to have an extended discussion, while as a facilitator I knew a little time pressure would help everyone better access their strongest feelings.
Moving at that swift pace can be difficult without a professional facilitator. Part of the facilitator’s role is to ensure there’s a clear path and then quickly move everyone towards the goal.
Situation #3: You Need Someone Neutral
Executives often have strong feelings about concepts that should be reflected in the customer service vision.
That can make it difficult for an executive to simultaneously solicit input from employees while espousing their own ideas. Strong visions ideally contain a balance of perspectives that ring true for everyone.
One client had really strong feelings about certain concepts being included in the customer service vision, but employees struggled to embrace them. Through the facilitation process, we learned the roadblock was the specific wording this leader was using rather than the concepts themselves. A few minor tweaks to the language and suddenly everyone was happy.
A facilitator can help in these situations. Ideally, this person will help you balance the perspectives and input from all participants, while ensuring a key executive’s desires are still incorporated into the final product.
Finding a Facilitator
There are a few places you can go to find a facilitator to help you write your customer service vision.
Try a professional association such as the Organizational Development Network or the Association for Talent Development. These organizations both have a network of local chapters, which might be the best route to go for a small business seeking a less expensive option.
You can also ask for referrals. Many businesses have used a consultant to help facilitate a strategic planning session or an executive retreat.
If you get stuck, feel free to give me a call at 619-955-7946 or email me. Although vision facilitation is a service I provide, I’d be happy to walk you through the process and give you some suggestions with no obligation.