Many companies have slogans that look good on websites, banners, and buttons, but often these slogans have little credibility among customers or employees. They are simply a set of words brainstormed at an ad agency that usually promise more than employees are prepared to deliver, and result in less than customers expected to receive.
CVS Health has a slogan: “Health is everything.” Last Wednesday the company stopped selling cigarettes and tobacco products at its 7,700 retail pharmacies. Although the decision to remove tobacco products from its stores will cost them an estimated $2 billion in annual sales, CVS Health chose to stay true to its commitment to people’s health. It chose to honor its highest priority: health is everything. CVS Health reinforced its credibility with employees and customers alike by staying true to its stated purpose.
I love this example because it illustrates an important point I make during my customer service presentations: Without a clearly defined purpose, there is no exceptional customer service. Most companies ensure that employees possess job knowledge (WHAT to do) and demonstrate job skill (HOW to do it), but then leave job purpose (WHY they are doing it) to chance. Whenever you leave 1/3 of anything to chance, it usually doesn’t end well.
This explains why most companies provide ordinary, routine, and transactional customer service: Their employees are given something to work ON and dutifully execute the mandatory functions of their jobs, oftentimes producing satisfactory results. But extraordinary companies aren’t content to give their employees something to work on. Like CVS, they opt to give employees something to work TOWARD.
Zappos, the online retailer, gives its employees something to work toward by guiding their actions with the purpose: “To provide the best customer service possible.” And the behavior of employees of the Mayo Clinic is shaped by the purpose: “The needs of the patient come first.” These employees not only possess job knowledge and demonstrate job skill, they also reflect job purpose.
I’m confident that the great majority of people who read this post, can clearly articulate WHAT they do at work and, if asked, could demonstrate HOW they do it. I’m less confident that they will have the same clarity around their highest priority at work, the organization’s purpose – WHY they do WHAT they do.
If you’re skeptical, just ask your employees/coworkers. My hunch is that if you ask five employees with the same job role WHAT they do, 80 percent of their responses will agree. However, if you ask these same five employees WHY they do WHAT they do, 80 percent of their responses will differ. This exercise serves as a litmus test to determine whether your company has a catchy slogan or an enduring purpose.
Don’t settle for ordinary. Choose extraordinary. (It’s always a choice.) Order Delight Your Customers: 7 Simple Ways to Raise Your Customer Service from Ordinary to Extraordinary by Steve Curtin or purchase from select retailers, including Barnes & Noble.
Watch the 90-second book trailer.