Impact Learning Systems


The HEART Model — A History Peggy Carlaw

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!

Peggy Car­law is the founder of Impact Learn­ing Sys­tems, a lead­ing train­ing com­pany spe­cial­iz­ing in improv­ing com­mu­ni­ca­tions between front-line employ­ees and cus­tomers. Peggy is co-author of sev­eral books pub­lished by McGraw-Hill, includ­ing Man­ag­ing and Moti­vat­ing Con­tact Cen­ter Employ­ees and The Big Book of Cus­tomer Ser­vice Train­ing Games.
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Peggy Carlaw
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  • Hear and Under­stand | Cus­tomer Ser­vice Blog | Impact Learn­ing Systems

    […] lis­ten­ing? At Impact, our guid­ing bea­con in dri­ving our cus­tomers’ expe­ri­ence is the HEART Model™. Many of our cus­tomers have also adopted this model because it pro­vides them with five […]

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