A number of years ago, I was doing some consulting with a sister company of American Airlines — both owned by the holding company AMR. The Corporate mission statement was prominently displayed in the lobby and in the conference room I was assigned to work in. This particular mission statement had 7–8 bullet points to it. One of them (I don't remember what it said now) made no sense to me, so I asked every employee who came in the conference room-from director level on down-what that bullet meant. No one knew.
I thought back to other occasions when I'd see a framed mission or values statement at a client's that included something like, "We act with integrity at all times," and then I'd find out that they were asking their customer service reps to lie about delivery dates to avoid losing orders. Or I'd see, "We respect diversity," only to hear the tech support reps joking and laughing about customers who were less than computer literate. I knew that the executive team didn't go offsite for two or three days and create mission, vision, and values statements just to create beautiful four-color posters for the lobby and laminated cards for employees' wallets! I had a hunch they sincerely wanted the vision and values they had identified to be embraced and used by employees to drive the successful accomplishment of the company's mission.
I thought, "Why don't they teach their customer service reps to deliver bad news instead of lie?" Why don't they teach their tech support reps to respect their customers—despite the customer's lack of knowledge?' I thought it important to create training programs that integrated these types of principles with the soft skills that are so critical to success with customers.
We were developing our line of off-the-shelf training solutions at the time, so I needed a generic set of principles that would apply to all companies. After researching corporate mission statements, vision statements, and values statements for over a month, the HEART Model™ was born. The HEART Model™ is a paradigm of five common-sense principles to help front-line employees better serve their customers and feel good about themselves at the end of the day. Hear and Understand, Expect the Best, Act with Integrity, Respect Diversity, and Transcend Yourself—topics rarely talked about at work.
In some cases, we've replaced the HEART Model™ with a customer's own mission or values statements. In either case, talking about corporate and personal values and how they affect the way one does one's job has turned out to be a bigger success than we ever thought. At the end of each class we always ask participants to identify the most valuable thing they learned. Handling angry customers? Sometimes. Tricks for speedier call resolution? Occasionally. But by far, the most common answer has something to do with the HEART Model™. The answer is always personal, it's often profound, and it's sometimes life-changing.
Posts on each principle of the HEART Model™ are coming soon. Get ready to take your HEART to work!