Create a Specific, Compelling Vision

A clear vision, well communicated and continually reinforced by you, is essential to engaging your employees, aligning objectives, and driving action. Vision can take many forms, including Women looking through a pair of eyeglassesa vision statement, a mission statement, a set of values, or some overarching principles or standards. Don’t worry about a specific formula or label for your vision.

I have colleagues who are huge fans of eyewear retailer Warby Parker. Warby Parker is renowned for exceptional customer experience design. Their mission is simple and compelling: “We believe that buying glasses should be easy and fun. It should leave you happy and good-looking, with money in your pocket.”

One coworker describes her recent experience this way:

When I arrive, there’s no wait (easy) for a friendly sales advisor to provide expert recommendations (good-looking, happy). I’m not ready to buy yet, but my advisor informs me my favorites will be emailed to me, along with a virtual try-on app, in case I want to “try on” any more styles without coming to the store (easy). The app will even make suggestions (good-looking)! I stroll through the mall to a competitor and I’m thrilled with the price difference (money in your pocket). Maybe I’ll buy two pairs—one for business, and one for weekends (fun)!

Here are some other examples of vision. USAA, the highly rated insurance and financial company, operates around four core values (summarized in just four words): Service. Loyalty. Honesty. Integrity. Together, they are simple, clear and inspiring. And they pack a punch because at USAA they discuss and include them in any decision. That makes a real difference.

REI is a provider of outdoor equipment and services, and I love their mission, which also serves as their vision for customer experience: “We inspire, educate and outfit for a lifetime of outdoor adventure and stewardship.” As you might imagine, that gives their newest employees a good sense of what to do (and the inspiration to do it!).

And it’s not just private companies having all the fun. Services Australia, the service arm of the federal government, is simplifying and improving services around this vision: “Make government services simple so people can get on with their lives.” It’s a bold, ongoing initiative that is already showing strong results. I’m also seeing Service BC (British Columbia, Canada), the US Department of Veterans Affairs, and others within government strongly focus on shaping experiences that meet the evolving needs of their communities.

How does Warby Parker, USAA, REI, Australia, or any successful organization know the experiences their customers want? They listen to and strive to understand them. They observe their behavior. And they build that insight into their vision, customer experience design and delivery, and success metrics. They inspire their employees to help make the vision a reality.

Excerpt from Leading the Customer Experience: How to Chart a Course and Deliver Outstanding Results by Brad Cleveland.