National Customer Service Week: The HEART Model, Principle #1

    By Jodi Beuder | Small Business

    National Customer Service Week: The HEART Model, Principle #1 image ncsw day1ncsw_day1In honor of National Customer Service Week, we wanted to dedicate each day to writing about the HEART model™, which defines five core principles that we use in all of our customer service training programs. Regardless of your industry, you will find that these principles will be useful in both your corporate practices, and in the way your team treats and respects your customers.

    Each letter in the HEART model™ stands for one of the core principles that Impact works from:

    • Hear and Under­stand
    • Expect the Best
    • Act with Integrity
    • Respect Diver­sity, and
    • Tran­scend Yourself.

    We derived these tenets years ago, after studying hundreds of mission and core value statements from customers. We have found that many customers integrate these principles into their own mission statements, and that they continuously refer back to the HEART model after going through our training course(s).

    Since today is Monday, we’ll focus on the first HEART principle: Hear and Understand.

    Hearing and Understanding: It starts from the inside

    We have found that in order to apply a principle effectively to those outside of your organization – to your customers – you first must successfully adopt the principle inside your company. To bring this example to life, we took a story published on, which profiled Neil Blumenthal, a co-founder of the wildly successful eyeglass online retail site, Warby Parker. Warby Parker is known for their great customer service, and one of the keys, according to Blumenthal, is the ability to ask the right questions. How is this accomplished? Blumenthal believes it’s the ability to see things from another person’s perspective. In other words, the ability to hear and understand.

    Do you know what motivates people?

    In order to lead, you must know what will motivate people to follow. Do you know what motivates your employees? How well do you know those whom you are entrusted with guiding, mentoring, and managing? If you are working with an inexperienced team, in particular, they themselves may not yet know what motivates them. Your job, therefore, as a manager, is to get to know them, as individuals, and from your interactions with them, extract what their motivations are. Once you start to understand how they’re motivated, you can provide incentives and a work structure that suits them.

    Blumenthal understands this principle of motivation well. So well, in fact, that he himself co-leads workshops with his managers so that he can help them develop the right leadership skills, which will be passed down along the chain to the employees that the managers are responsible for. In Blumenthal’s words, he wants his managers to “care deeply about the people who work for them,” and Blumenthal understands that in order to truly teach that principle, he must be personally invested in his managers and know what questions to ask.

    How well do you know your team?

    This week, spend some time reflecting on how well you know your management team and your employees. Do you know what motivates them? Do you ask questions and listen to their concerns? Are you personally invested in their development? True leadership begins at the top, so if you expect others in your organization to lead, take the time to be a great leader yourself by spending some time hearing and understanding what those around you have to say.

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