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Academy of Management Executive, 2005, Vol. 19, No.


Aligning organizational
processes with mission: The
case of service excellence
John C. Crotts, Duncan R. Dickson, and Robert C. Ford

Executive Overview
It has become increasingly clear in the research literature that successful organizations
have found ways to ensure that their organizational missions are aligned both in terms of
fit with the external environment and with all factors internal to the organization. The
challenge is that accomplishing this fit is easier said than done. Too often there is a gap
between what the organization says it seeks to do and what its employees actually do.
The purpose of this paper is to offer managers a method by which they can create and
conduct an audit of the gaps in the alignment of their organizational practices, policies,
and procedures with their mission. The value of conducting such an audit is to create a
diagnostic device to identify and close the gaps in an effort to secure better alignment
with the mission. The authors use the mission of service excellence to illustrate the logic
and process of developing such an audit, as this is one of the more challenging aspects of
any organization and especially a service organizations mission. If what gets measured
gets managed, then conducting such an audit can serve as an important tool for ensuring
that the internal actions of the organization are being effectively managed to achieve the

Mission Alignment for the financial. Unfortunately, the tools for find-
ing and closing the gap are few and far between.
During the annual ritual of strategic planning at
Management scholars have been discussing the
most organizations, the discussion often begins
importance of the concept of alignment in relation
with a review of the mission. Frequently, those
to external contingences and internal structure,
discussions result in an agreement that the mis- policies, and practices for some time.1 As early as
sion is well-stated but poorly implemented. While 1983, Tichy noted that the strategic management
missions typically include clear references to fi- task is to keep the organization both internally and
nancial performance, environmental responsibil- externally aligned.2 Miles and Snow extend this
ity, employee respect, and excellence in customer reasoning by suggesting that an organization that
service, too often it is only financial performance has a tight fit or alignment with various contin-
that gets measured and managed while the other gency factors, (e.g., size, environment, technology,
equally important parts of the mission get lost in resource availability) can significantly improve
noble words. In other words, there is a gap be- firm performance.3 They state, Tight fit is the un-
tween what the mission says and what people in derlying causal dynamic producing sustained, ex-
the organization believe is managements real cellent performance and a strong corporate cul-
message. This gap is a result of the lack of align- ture.4 Externally, strategic choices are shaped by
ment among the managerial tools of policies, pro- the need to align organizational resources with
cedures, and practices with the mission. This lack environmental opportunities and threats.5 Inter-
of alignment confuses everyone about what the nally, ensuring a consistent fit between organiza-
mission really is as they try to implement it. Iden- tional mission and the structure, policies, and pro-
tifying this alignment gap for the non-financial cedures of the organization and the practices of its
aspects of the mission is no less critical than it is leadership can also significantly improve organi-
2005 Crotts, Dickson, and Ford 55

zational performance. Porter suggests that the best or the actions that management takes to signal to
way for any organization to achieve a sustainable employees what the organization mission is and
competitive advantage is to reinforce its chosen how much they are really committed to it. Align-
strategy with a host of activities, including func- ment is the idea of developing and making consis-
tional policies, staffing decisions, and structure.6 tent the various practices, actions, policies, and
Nadler and Tushman propose five key areas that procedures that managers use to communicate to
the organization should seek to establish and mon- employees what is important and what is not, what
itor, where congruence or fit is critical for organi- has value to the organization and what does not,
zational success. They state, Put another way, the and what they should do and what they should not.
degree to which the strategy, work, people, struc- Structural alignment is obviously important, but
ture, and culture are smoothly aligned will deter- there is a need for managers to also ensure that the
mine the organizations ability to compete and suc- policies and procedures they create and the ac-
ceed.7 tions they take also align consistently with the
Research investigating the importance of align- organizations mission.
ment or fit to an organizations success has, not A second purpose is to offer practicing managers
surprisingly, found it important. One study tracing a new application of a familiar toolauditingas
the linkage between organizational mission and a useful method or technique for achieving this
financial performance found that the degree to alignment. The method or technique we offer is to
which an organization aligns its internal structure, design and conduct an alignment audit that as-
policies, and procedures with its mission was pos- sesses the degree to which those internal proce-
itively associated with employee behavior which, dures and managerial practices are aligned with
in turn, had the most direct relationship with finan- the mission.
cial performance.8 In the human resource manage- If management believes that it is important to
ment area, there has been considerable effort fo- have everyone focused on even the hard-to-mea-
cused on aligning HR policies and processes with sure aspects of its mission, then developing an
the organizational mission.9 The need to ensure understanding of what the factors are that lead to
that all HR practices and policies are tightly such a focus and how they can be measured to
aligned with the overall organizations mission ensure that they are aligned is critical. If what gets
has become a well-accepted fact. measured gets managed, then auditing these
The importance of mission alignment in influ- words, deeds, and practices can be as important a
encing organizational performance appears to be tool for ensuring the achievement of non-financial
well-established in the management literature aspects of the overall mission as they are for
and is even part of most standard texts on strate- achieving the financial aspects. If this sounds
gy.10 The achievement of this alignment is more easy, it isnt. Organizations are complicated and
problematic, as it depends on an ability to both employees can and do get conflicting signals
measure and manage the gaps between what the about what is expected.11 Managers can be incon-
mission says is valued and what management ac- sistent in what they say, do, and reward. The result
tually says, writes, and does. In our consulting and is a mixed message that dilutes or even distorts
discussions with practicing managers, we have the employee focus on what the mission says.
discovered that nearly all practitioners agree with While we appreciate the complexity of organiza-
the logic of aligning a thoughtful and carefully tions, the challenges of finding the best balance
developed mission with their practices, policies, across competing organizational goals, and the
and procedures. We have also discovered that only difficulty of incorporating all key managerial prac-
a surprisingly few of these managers have spent tices and procedures in any audit scheme, we be-
an equal amount of time and effort in ensuring that lieve that the internal processes managers can
their words and actions were actually aligned with manage should be carefully assessed to ensure
their mission. that they are aligned with that mission. We pro-
While the academic discussions of alignment pose here and detail in Table 1 a simple assess-
span both internal and external alignment, the ment process that leads to developing an align-
purpose of this article is to focus on internal align- ment audit.
ment and especially on the alignment of policies, The policies, procedures, or practices that cue
practices, and procedures with the mission. Al- employees to act in support of a mission can be
though the internal alignment literature largely explicit, like the items included in an employee
focuses on the nature and importance of structural performance review, or implicit, like a story told by
alignment, we seek to focus instead on the internal a top manager about an exemplary employee who
processes and procedures that management writes gets recognized for providing excellent service.
56 Academy of Management Executive August

Table 1
The Mission Alignment Audit Process

1. Define the outcome of the mission in measurable terms (e.g. customer satisfaction scores)
2. Identify key policies, procedures and practices that cue employee behavior (e.g., job descriptions, annual plans)
3. Create an audit of whether or not the mission is included in each key policy, procedure, and practice. (e.g., See Table 2)
4. Conduct the audit
5. Fix and align any item that is out of alignment
6. Compare the audit results against the mission outcome measurement to affirm value of alignment

They can be human resource policies like the re- pening and what must happen to achieve the mis-
quirements expressed in a job description or sys- sion.
tem procedures like how allegations of employee This is the point and power of our emphasis on
disrespect are to be handled. The key point seen in auditing organizational alignment. While ideally
Table 1 is that having everything in place and the entire organization and its varying compo-
even having them aligned is still not sufficient for nents, policies, and procedures are all aligned
achieving a mission. What is also required is that with the mission, we suggest that there are obvi-
the organization reviews or audits these to make ous internal processes that an organization should
sure that they are all guiding the employees in the look at first to see how consistently aligned they
same way with the same message. While it is also are, how easy it is to get out of alignment, and how
important to make sure that the policies, practices, managers can audit the cues they send to ensure
and procedures are not so tightly aligned that em- mission alignment in their organizations. In other
ployees are afraid to express any disagreements, words, by conducting an audit of the alignment of
do not feel empowered to take new initiatives or their strategic practices, staffing policies, and sys-
explore new ideas, or are discouraged from think- tem procedures we identify in our example below
ing outside of the box to solve problems or meet (and detailed in Table 2), managers can initiate a
new challenges, consistent reminders of the mis- process to systematically assess how well their
sion should focus and empower problem-solving. organizations are aligned on these factors. These
Focusing on the mission need not conflict with are organized and summarized into strategic and
flexibility and ability to change. tactical practices, staffing policies and processes,
This paper is premised on several key ideas. and systems procedures and design factors. In Ta-
First, employees are smarter than many managers ble 2 we include sample items focused on the ser-
give them credit. They know the difference be- vice excellence mission example that can be used
tween what is said to be important and what is as part of a template for conducting an alignment
measured and rewarded. Second, the greater the audit for all aspects of the organizations mission.
organizations cuesas represented by its poli-
cies, procedures, and management practicesare
The Audit Process
aligned with its mission, the more likely it is that
the organizations employees will actually work To illustrate how an alignment audit can work, we
towards that mission. Third, confusion over mis- focus on a mission of excellence in customer ser-
sion is not a good thing for anyone. While it is vice. While other aspects of an organizations mis-
important not to make everything so tightly de- sion can and should be audited for alignment, our
fined that any variation, creativity, or new ideas concern with the customer service aspect is de-
are discouraged or ignored, the hectic pace of to- rived from our own research interests and our dis-
days business environment demands that every- cussions with practicing managers that tell us that
one work towards the same organizational mis- this aspect of the organization mission is often the
sion. most challenging to implement.12 Mission align-
What these three premises mean to the practic- ment audits can appear to be much less sophisti-
ing manager seeking to achieve any mission is cated than the traditional financial audit. Most
that it is in his or her interest to align the organi- organizations have now learned how to communi-
zations strategic and tactical practices, staffing cate and audit their alignment with their financial
policies, and systems procedures with each other goals. However it is still relatively rare to find
and the mission. This leads to consistent and fo- organizations that thoughtfully and thoroughly as-
cused cues that guide and direct employees be- sess the degree to which they achieve the non-
havior as they make their day-to-day decisions financial parts of their mission. Few, for example,
about how to close the gap between what is hap- audit the alignment of their policies and practices
2005 Crotts, Dickson, and Ford 57

Table 2
Service Mission Alignment Factors with Possible Audit Items

Strategic and Tactical Practices

1. Departmental Goals are aligned with customer service mission.
Possible audit items:
Management specifically rewards unit/department managers on how well they score on customer service measures.
Management specifically rewards managers on how well their unit/department provides excellent service to other units/
2. Environmental Setting/physical design communicates customer service mission.
Possible audit items:
Our physical facility/room layout is designed to be customer friendly.
Our temperature, lighting, and environmental conditions are designed to be customer friendly.
3. Stories are told about and successes celebrate excellence in customer service.
Possible audit items:
Management has formal celebrations for employees who provide excellent customer service.
Excellent customer service is formally recognized and rewarded in our reward system.
4. Top management walks the service mission talk.
Possible audit item:
Management shows its commitment to excellent customer service by visibly walking the talk.
5. Performance standards are aligned with service mission.
Possible audit items:
Customer service excellence is part of each manager/supervisors annual plan/goals/objectives.
Management has established standards of service quality for all aspects of the service experience that our customers
guests tell us are important to them.
6. Budget allocations are aligned with service mission.
Possible audit items:
Our departmental/unit supervisors have the financial resources to train employees on how to provide service excellence.
Employees are reminded that customer service is equally important with financial goals.
Staffing Policies and Processes Factors
7. Job descriptions include service mission.
Possible audit item:
Every job description includes a responsibility for excellent customer service.
8. Job ads include service mission.
Possible audit item:
Our recruitment literature mentions our commitment to excellent customer service.
9. Interviews include questions about commitment to service mission.
Possible audit items:
We routinely ask applicants about their customer service commitment in employment interviews.
Commitment to excellent customer service is one criterion we use to decide who gets hired.
10. Orientation programs stress service mission.
Possible audit item:
We routinely explain our commitment to customer service in our orientation for new employees.
11. Performance appraisals include and reward service mission.
Possible audit items:
Commitment to excellent customer service is part of everyones annual performance evaluation.
Poor customer service can lead to employee discipline/discharge practices.
12. Training programs include training in service mission.
Possible audit item:
Management routinely schedules time to remind staff members of their commitment to service excellence in regular staff
System Procedures and Design Factors
13. Service quality systematically measured.
Possible audit items:
We follow a set plan to consistently collect information about customer satisfaction.
We follow a set plan to consistently fix discovered customer service problems.
14. Feedback on service quality systematically provided to all.
Possible audit items:
We follow a set plan to consistently share customer feedback with our employees.
Unit/department comparisons of customer service performance scores are systematically and publicly shared across units/
15. Service delivery system design reflects service mission.
Possible audit items:
We follow a set plan to consistently record how long guests have to wait for service.
We follow a set plan to consistently keep our guests informed about all aspects of their service experience.
58 Academy of Management Executive August

with a mission commitment to respect the environ- conducting an audit as they are most easily iden-
ment, maximize their human resources, or commit tified and inexpensively changed.
to service excellence. Once measures for assessing the achievement of
In a real sense the audit process starts with the mission are developed and used, the next step
defining what the mission really means in terms of is to organize the audit tool. Here, the policies,
desired outcomes. To paraphrase the Alice in Won- procedures, and practices that should lead to
derland saying: It doesnt matter which way you go achieving that mission can be identified and orga-
if you dont know where you want to be. If the nized into a simple questionnaire or form. The next
mission specifies, as in our example, a commit- step is to perform the actual mission alignment
ment to excellent customer service, then the start- audit. When the key policies, procedures, and
ing point of the assessment process that leads to a managerial practices are measured or systemati-
mission audit is to find an appropriate measure of cally audited, then gaps can be identified between
the degree to which the organization actually the organizations mission and what management
achieves service excellence. One well-tested mea- is signaling to its employees.
sure for assessing the degree to which customers The measured items are categorized and listed
experience excellence in customer service is SERV- in Table 2 in the form of a simple questionnaire
QUAL developed by Parasuraman, Zeithaml, and that asks whether the practice, policy, or procedure
Berry.13 However, other measures can be used, is present or not. Thus, in a service mission align-
such as those offered commercially by organiza- ment audit, questions are asked such as, Is cus-
tions like Gallup and Press Gainey or even a sim- tomer service mentioned in new employee inter-
ple comment card system that assesses the degree views? or Is customer service feedback
to which customers express satisfaction or dissat- systematically provided to managers? Although it
isfaction with the service experience. The point is may be that one item is more important than oth-
that the measures can be very sophisticated or ers, it seems clear from the research that the cus-
relatively simple but measurement needs to take tomer service experience is viewed by customers
place in order to ensure that everyone in the orga- in a holistic way. Thus, managers should look for
nization realizes that there is a reason to align all any item that does not get a yes in this simple
their practices, policies, and procedures and that audit. Once that item is identified, managers know
the organization is taking this mission seriously.14 that their practices, policies, or procedures are not
In effect, the measurement serves as a message. communicating or cueing the type of behavior that
Just as a financial audit gives an assessment of the aligns with the mission. Since these audited items
degree to which the numbers represent the reality, are existing policies, procedures, and practices,
a customer service alignment audit needs to have the incremental cost of changing them to align
reliable definitions of what it means to provide with the mission should be minimal.
excellent service to the customers. Gathering these It is important to note that the audit items we
measures and conducting an audit also sends a offer represent only the tip of an organizational
powerful message to the employees about the real iceberg. Managers truly interested in utilizing this
level of commitment to this mission. audit approach to ensure alignment can use these
Once a measurement system of mission achieve- categories and questions as a beginning point and
ment is set up, then the internal actions that man- then add items that are unique to their organiza-
agement creates to communicate the mission to its tion and mission. The entire reason for such an audit
employees can be defined. Although this list of is to provide a systematic assessment of where the
practices, policies, and procedures could be end- companys policies, procedures, and practices are
less, the factors chosen for an audit should be and are not aligned so that those that are not can
selected on the basis of the degree to which they be discovered and brought into alignment.
are important communicators of the mission and
what must be done to execute it. While we offer a
The Case of a Service Excellence
few of the more obvious factors in Table 2, many
Alignment Audit
more can be added by a manager who seeks to
drive this process more emphatically and deeply Tracing back the tactical actions and organiza-
into the organization. Since we are proposing a tional practices that lead to the implementation of
general model that all managers can build on to a strategic plan to achieve the mission is the first
suit each organizations unique circumstances, the step in any organizational alignment. This details
items we include in Table 2 are relatively simple to the what part of the mission. In the case of de-
identify and measure. Moreover, we are focusing fining the who, everything related to staffing and
on obvious practices, policies, and procedures for human resource policies should be tightly linked
2005 Crotts, Dickson, and Ford 59

to and aligned with a commitment to customer held accountable and what the organization be-
service.15 Finally, in detailing the how, delivery lieves in. If there is no alignment between these
systems procedures, facilities design, and informa- two, then the message and the mission get lost.
tion systems must be linked back and aligned to One of the authors experience demonstrates this
the mission and strategy. point well. Upon arrival at the International Air-
All these linkages can be assessed through an port in Montego Bay, Jamaica, he saw that the
alignment audit. For example, does the organiza- wheels had become detached from his very expen-
tion have any systematic measures of the quality sive suitcase while on the flight. He had paid the
or value of the customer service it provides? It does extra money for the suitcase primarily because he
little good to talk about excellent customer service needed wheels to help him move his typically
in a mission statement if there are no measure- overloaded case while traveling. The airline dis-
ments of how customers evaluate the customer avowed responsibility for the damage and showed
service they get. Likewise, an alignment audit him its disclaimer indicating that it was not re-
should look at the extent to which customer feed- sponsible for anything like this damage.
back on excellent customer service is included in Leaving the airport unhappy with the airlines
the strategic plan, budgets, and even the annual handling of the dispute and the damage to his
plans and goals of individual managers. suitcase, the author wrestled it through immigra-
Finally, we must offer one last caution in creat- tion and customs and then on to the hotel shuttle.
ing and using an alignment audit. Even though our On arrival at the hotel, the young bellman greeting
example focuses on service excellence, most mis- the author expressed his dismay at seeing such a
sions are multidimensional, and any audit of their nice suitcase so mangled. He inquired as to what
many parts needs to consider how each part re- had happened and, when told the story, expressed
lates to the others. If, for example, the business his apology for the unfortunate experience. The
model is to focus on profitability and only on other next day the author went to an early morning meet-
aspects of a mission like customer service, em- ing. On returning to the room late that afternoon,
ployee welfare, or environmental stakeholder in- he noticed that the bag was missing. The author
terests when they do not conflict with achieving asked his wife what had happened and she
the profitability goal, then auditing the degree to seemed surprised that he didnt know. She told him
which the organizational practices and actions an engineer had come to the room and taken the
align with each of the various aspects of the mis- suitcase away. She thought that the author had
sion need to accommodate that emphasis. If the made arrangements with the engineer to have the
costs of delivering excellent customer service jeop- case repaired. Later, while dressing for dinner,
ardize the profit goal, then management may elect there was a knock on the door. There was the
to be satisfied with a reputation for good customer engineer with the suitcaserepaired and good as
service instead of excellent. However, the reality of new. The surprised and very grateful author asked
these potential trade-offs need not detract from the him how he knew that the suitcase was broken. He
utility of conducting an alignment audit, as it is said that the bellman had mentioned it and asked
still critical to identify and assess what those him if he could fix it. He could and he did.
trade-offs are and what they mean in terms of Astounded, the author offered the engineer a
achieving all parts of the mission. gratuity, which he promptly declined and said it
was his pleasure and he was only too happy to
help. The next day he also tried to tip the bellman
Strategic and Tactical Actions and Practices but the bellman also refused and indicated that he
was simply happy to have been of service. The Ritz
Departmental and Unit Goals are Aligned with
Carlton Rose Hall earned its reputation that week.
Service Mission
These employees were in perfect alignment with
One of the most important cues that any organiza- The Ritz Carlton mission statement which states,
tion can send is how the mission statement aligns To be the premier worldwide provider of luxury
with the goals of individual managers and the travel and hospitality services. They knew what
departments they manage. Nothing causes a was expected of them and did it. In comparison,
breakdown in alignment quicker between a mis- the mission statement of the airline which also
sion of excellent customer service and the actual touts its commitment to guest service excellence is
delivery of excellent customer service than not unfulfilled by its employees.
having departmental and unit managers account- The point should be clear that if the mission
able in some measurable way for delivering it.16 statement does not get translated into individual
They know for what they and their departments are managers and departmental mission statements,
60 Academy of Management Executive August

then it is unlikely that the message of customer nization. In many hotels it is in the third subbase-
service will be heard. The Ritz Carlton is famous ment next to the dumpsters or the boiler room. In
for making sure that these are aligned while the restaurants it is frequently at a table in a closed off
unmentioned airline clearly is out of alignment. A (hopefully) section of the dining room.
mission statement by itself cannot guarantee good In contrast, Disney sends all applicants to its
customer service even if it is the obvious starting Casting Center, which incorporates the Disney cul-
point. ture and symbols. This building communicates the
Disney culture to new applicants and at the same
time reinforces the company mission to the inter-
Environmental Setting and Physical Design
viewers while dealing with a large number of
Communicates Service Mission
daily applicants. From the moment the new appli-
A second area of alignment included in our audit cant enters the doors that are replicas of the ones
template is in the design and development of the Alice floated through on her journey to Wonder-
physical environment or setting in which the ser- land, the physical design reminds everyone of the
vice experience takes place. Here companies not magic that Disney seeks to create for its guests and
only specifically consider how the environmental employees. The unique facade of the Casting Cen-
setting will impact the customer experience but ter replicates a Venetian Palace painted with a
also take into consideration how that setting will harlequin design. Applicants entering it see Dis-
impact their employees when planning their phys- neys most famous characters peering down from
ical layout and design.17 twelve pillars in the ornate rotunda. The message
Disney is considered the master of aligning the communicated to the applicant through this phys-
design of its physical structures to its mission ical design is: You are entering a different world;
which was: To create happiness for people of all this isnt your typical employment office. Be pre-
ages everywhere. Even a casual observer of its pared for new and unusual things; also be pre-
theme parks and hotels will notice that it spends pared to have some fun.
considerable effort on the details in the setting to By designing the Casting Center to align with its
define the quality of the guest experience. Disney mission, Disney communicates to all its culture
even transplants trees throughout its resort every and mission. Better yet, those who are not hired
few years so that guests will find the same height leave with a feeling that this company cares about
trees in their photos when they compare the trip its employees as much as it cares about its guests.
they took this year with the one they took several While few think about this issue, we include it in
years ago. The customers may get older but the our audit to remind organizations of the impor-
fantasy world of the Magic Kingdom and its trees tance of their physical design and layout. Obvi-
never age. Likewise, its engineers take special ously they can contribute or detract from aligning
care in designing the waiting line experience so both customers and employees with the mission of
that their Disney World guests have as little dis- excellent guest service.
comfort as possible while waiting in Orlandos
90-degree summer heat to enter the next attraction.
Service Excellence Stories are Told and
But they take it even further as they make sure
Successes Celebrated
that their employees feel the magic of their mis-
sion too. They recognize the need to align the cast Perhaps there is no better way for managers to
member experience in the physical setting with communicate their commitment to the service mis-
the guests experience. If the cast member (Dis- sion than through the stories they tell and are told
neys term for its employees) doesnt feel the magic about them.18 People seem to remember stories
of the place, the guests wont either. Thus, they and their teaching points much better than some
make sure that their physical structures and lay- four-point lecture on service excellence. An exam-
outs communicate their mission to each employee. ple of a story that communicated the organizations
Communicating this mission to new employees commitment to service excellence is one told about
and even applicants is even more critical. When Ron Magruder, former President of Olive Garden
one considers the first impression an organization Restaurants and currently Chief Executive of Hops.
can make on a potential employee, it becomes The story is about an action he took when making
easy to see an obvious opportunity to create align- one of his routine visits to an Olive Garden Res-
ment of physical design with the mission. For ex- taurant in Houston. He arrived at the peak of the
ample, the employment office in many organiza- lunchtime crowd and immediately learned that the
tions is located in a place that sends a message to store manager was in the weeds. Two of her
new applicants about their importance to the orga- cooks had not shown up and the restaurant was
2005 Crotts, Dickson, and Ford 61

full of hungry and impatient customers. Ron, find- (Bill) Marriott. He is legendary when it comes to
ing the manager in the kitchen trying to cook as visiting his properties and spending time with all
fast as she could to catch up with the orders, took levels of employees reaffirming the Marriott mis-
off his coat, grabbed an apron, and joined her on sion and values. Other organizations have their
the cook line. In the middle of this chaos, a phone tales of top managements commitment to service
call came in from the manager of another Houston excellence as well. Herb Kelleher, former CEO of
area Olive Garden asking her if she had seen Ron Southwest Airlines, was noted for pitching in to
yet. The manager tersely told the other manager to help serve customers. He felt it was important to
not bother her while the president of the company model the behavior that all employees should
was on the next grille cooking. The story spread show to customers. His beliefs and those leaders
rapidly throughout the company and left little like him are simple; if we are unwilling to take the
doubt as to where the company and its leaders time to do what we can for customers, how can we
stood on commitment to customer service. expect any employee to believe that we are serious
Stories like this can teach the mission and guide about doing the best we can to serve them?
behavior by all. For example, the mission of South- Likewise, David Neeleman founder and CEO of
west Airlines is dedication to the highest quality of Jet Blue is rapidly earning a similar reputation for
customer service delivered with a sense of walking the talk. Neeleman tries to take a flight on
warmth, friendliness, individual pride, and com- Jet Blue every week working in the capacity of his
pany spirit. Southwest Airlines culture is full of employees. He interacts with the passengers as
stories about how its people implemented this mis- well as his employees modeling the behavior that
sion by providing excellent customer service. The is expected and demonstrating the attention to ser-
impact these stories have is not only derived from vice that mirrors its mission. Jet Blue embraces five
the moral of a particular story but also from the values that represent the company and create its
fact that top managers tell them with passion. Tell- unique culture: Safety, Caring, Integrity, Fun, &
ing stories about what a mission statement focus Passion. All of these values should, Neeleman be-
on service excellence looks like in practice is a lieves, lead to a focus on service.
powerful way to gain alignment and should be Benchmark service organizations know that, in
part of any audit. Likewise, what gets celebrated order to align the practices and behaviors of their
and what does not also communicates the commit- employees with the service mission, their top man-
ment of management to its service mission. When agers have to lead the way. Everyone watches
thank-you or congratulatory letters from customers what they do and say and the commitment to ser-
are read aloud to all employees in a service team vice begins with them. If they dont take customer
by its manager, the team members know what that service excellence seriously, they cant expect any-
manager and the organization values and believes one else to take it seriously either. Employees
to be important. When top management sends a watch top managers for cues as to what is good
thank-you to some employee who does something and bad, valued and not valued, expected and not
special for a customer, he or she sends a powerful wanted. Assessing the practices of top manage-
reminder of what the company believes in and ment is a key aspect of any alignment audit.
wants all of its employees to do. In a strategic
sense, what stories management tells and what it
Performance Standards are Aligned with
celebrates are vital ways to align a commitment to
Service Mission
a service mission with action; these cues need to
be included in an audit. A final aspect of aligning strategic practices to
mission in our audit template is the performance
standards that are created to link everyones ef-
Top Management Walks the Service Mission Talk
forts to the goal of excellent service.20 SYSCO pro-
In a similar sense, top management has to walk vides an excellent illustration of this strategy, as
the talk. Too often, the do as I say and not as I do reported in Buckingham and Coffmans book First
mentality interferes with the alignment between Break all the Rules.21 The SYSCO facility in Poco-
the mission statement on the wall and actual em- moke, Maryland, is in the top 25 percent of all
ployee behaviors.19 If management says we need SYSCO facilities in terms of growth, sales per em-
to be vigilant on cleanliness and walks by trash on ployee, profit per employee, and market penetra-
the floor, the grand words lose their impact by the tion. They also have single digit turnover, and one
lack of willingness of top management to show of the companys lowest breakage and spillage
they really care. rates. In an interview with the general manager,
One of the exemplars in this area has been J.W. Fred Landford, it is clear that this is not a great
62 Academy of Management Executive August

mystery to him and his employees. Everything is self-serve process to the guest thereby creating a
measured, every measure is posted, and every better guest experience.
measure has some kind of reward attached to it. After a short while, the manager noticed that
Mr. Langford says that all the measures are care- there were many periods of time when there were
fully linked to the customers wants and expecta- no arrivals at the restaurant and decided to add
tions. This alignment of standards with customer some other tasks to fill in the slack time. The man-
service mission offers a solid explanation for why ager asked the greeter to ensure that clean trays
SYSCO is such a strong and profitable competitor. were always available. The greeter added this
new responsibility to the original job description
and began keeping clean trays stocked. However,
Staffing Policies and Processes
whenever the manager saw that the available
A customer-focused strategy has to translate into trays were low, he mentioned it to the greeter and
human resource practices that are aligned with asked him to take care of the problem. From that
that strategy. In the case of service excellence, an time onward the only contact the greeter had with
audit can identify breakdowns in the linkages be- the manager was to receive criticism when there
tween the mission of excellent customer service were not enough trays. Before long the greeter
and the staffs commitment and ability to deliver stopped greeting at all and concentrated 100 per-
that service. An audit of human resources policies cent of the effort on trays. Within three weeks the
can reveal possible misalignments such as: Do we greeter quit the job. The manager deemed the
ask people about their commitment to excellent greeting position a failure.
customer service in our interviews? Do we tell If there is a misalignment between the job de-
them about our commitment to it in our advertise- scription and what the managers tell the employ-
ments for new employees? Is this mentioned in our ees are their real tasks then there is an obvious
job descriptions? Do we offer any new employee disconnect between what a company says and
orientation and training on what excellent cus- what it actually holds its people accountable for in
tomer service is to our organization and how im- their job performance. As we noted above, confu-
portant we value it? More importantly, do we eval- sion over job role and function is not likely to lead
uate, reward, discipline, and promote people on to achieving a companys mission. Including the
the degree to which they provide excellent cus- linkage of job descriptions to mission in an align-
tomer service? It is amazing to see how often an ment audit is an important part of ensuring that
organization writes a mission statement proclaim- what people are asked to do in their job perfor-
ing its commitment to excellent customer service mance is the same thing as what the organization
but doesnt bother to note this as an important needs them to do to accomplish that mission.
requirement in the job ads, ask about it in an
interview, include it in any job descriptions, or
formally reward it in the annual performance re- Job Ads Include Service Mission
view process. Whatever the mission is, it should be Job ads are another component of our alignment
reflected in all these HR practices and procedures audit template as they communicate powerfully to
if the organization wants to secure alignment.22 new entrants what the job entails. To illustrate our
point we searched the obvious places for some job
Job Descriptions Include Service Mission listings from companies we are familiar with to
discover if any included their customer service
A major HR issue is the alignment of job descrip- mission in their job advertisements. There are not
tions with job duties. This issue is included on our very many examples of this alignment. Starbucks,
audit template. Not only is it critical in determining however, offers one example of an organization
the nature and type of employee being sought in that understands the need to communicate its com-
the recruiting process but also aligning job de- mitment to guest satisfaction in its job ads and
scriptions with the job assignments given to em- offers an illustration of what this alignment looks
ployees is crucial in ensuring that what manage- like in these excerpts from an on-line ad:
ment wants to happen actually does happen for
both new and continuing employees. We are re- Job Summary and Mission
minded of a local budget steakhouse manager who This job contributes to Starbucks by leading
took a cue from Wal-Mart and hired a greeter to a team of store partners (employees) to create
enhance his customer service experience. The job and maintain Starbucks Experience for our
description was premised on the idea that a customers and partners. The store manager is
greeter could welcome the guest and explain the required to regularly and customarily exer-
2005 Crotts, Dickson, and Ford 63

cise discretion in managing the overall oper- wards customer service and, equally important,
ation of the store by spending a majority of his signals to the applicant that this company cares
or her time supervising and directing the enough about this part of its mission that it will
workforce, making staffing decisions, ensur- ask its applicants questions about it. If the inter-
ing customer satisfaction and product quality, view process doesnt include some discussion of
managing the stores financial performance, the company mission or an attempt to ensure that
and managing safety and security within the the candidate is comfortable with that mission,
store then the organization will miss a relatively easy
Leadership Setting goals for the work opportunity to acquaint the new employee with
group, developing organizational capability, that mission and emphasize its importance.
and modeling how we work together:
Trains and holds partners accountable
Orientation Programs Stress Mission
for delivering legendary customer service
Plans, identifies, communicates, and Organizations offer a wide variety of orientation
delegates appropriate responsibilities and programs to tell new employees what is expected.
practices to store partners. Too often, these orientation programs only consist
Manages with integrity, honesty, and of job skill training and some overview of organi-
knowledge that promote the culture, values, zational policies and procedures. Then the new
and mission of Starbucks. employee is assigned to someone who is told to
show them how we do it here. The likelihood that
Clearly, Starbucks values and seeks those who this person will actually orient the new employee
will accept the mission of championing guest sat- to the commitment the organization has to its mis-
isfaction. By including this mission in its ads Star- sion is obviously problematic.
bucks is telling the potential candidate that this In contrast, we offer the famous Walt Disney
commitment is important and that everyone is ac- World Co. Traditions orientation process as a
countable for guest satisfaction. Including this fac- model of how to show the new employee not only
tor in an alignment audit is a relatively simple the job expectations but the mission expectations
thing to do, as it focuses on what is in print. If the as well. Although somewhat modified today, the
organization doesnt see the need to articulate a original Traditions program was established as a
commitment to customer service in its job ads, then two-day long program that everyone, regardless of
it will certainly call into question its overarching job duties or organizational level, went through. It
commitment to this part of its mission. taught the companys history, achievements, qual-
ity standards, philosophy, and mission. It also de-
tailed the employees responsibility in creating the
Interviews Include Questions About
Disney show, an introduction to company poli-
Service Mission
cies and procedures, and an introduction and ori-
Another HR area that an alignment audit should entation to each cast members work area plus a
include for assessment is whether or not the mis- familiarization tour of the entire 43 square miles of
sion is included in some way in the job interview the property. By being the first exposure to Disney
process. It is common to ask questions or share for all new employees it provided a common bond
information that only reflect job knowledge and with the company and its values. They learned
past work experiences. While this makes sense that achieving Disneys happiness mission was a
since organizations do need to hire competent and result of a following a four-part action hierarchy
skilled people, the benchmark organizations seek that tells new employees what Disney values. In
to also include questions about the applicants at- other words, the employee should use the follow-
titudes towards providing excellent customer ser- ing priorities to guide his or her decisions about
vice. One example is the interviewer who asks what action to take when dealing with a guest
prospective employees how they would handle a service situation: safety, courtesy, show, and effi-
problem customer. The answer that this inter- ciency. Everyone who went through this program
viewer listens for is that the candidate has never had no doubt what the mission is, what was im-
met a problem customer, since that person be- portant, and how they fit into it. Above all and
lieves that the mission of the organization is to regardless of their job assignments, all cast mem-
provide excellent service to every customer. bers learned from their very first day on the job
The point is simple: the fact that the question is that their mission was to create happiness for each
asked gives the interviewer an opportunity to find guest.
out something about the applicants attitude to- As far as an orientation to the organization, the
64 Academy of Management Executive August

first impression makes a lasting one. The organi- plan. One-third is on budget performance, one-
zation can choose whether to communicate to its third is based on external customer service scores,
new employees its values and mission or send and one-third on service to his internal customers
instead the message that the job is only a task, the (both his staff employees and other departments
company only cares about following its rules and he serves). In the first case there is no alignment
regulations, and the supervisor is just interested in between the service excellence mission and the
getting a person filling a vacant position as soon performance assessment and reward policies for
as possible. While everyone knows that these the manager; for the second manager, there is.
things are also important, the benchmark organi-
zations also know that they only get one chance to
Annual Training in Service Mission
make a first impression. They make sure that
teaching employees how what they do is aligned In too many organizations, once an employee is
to the mission is a vital part of that first impres- trained for a specific job, there is no additional
sion. formal training and especially none in service ex-
This too is a relatively easy factor to assess in an cellence. In benchmark organizations, on the other
alignment audit. We include it on our template hand, the commitment to service mission is not
because it is important to orient new employees to only covered in the orientation programs, as dis-
the mission and especially to a mission that in- cussed earlier, but also annual renewals of this
cludes service excellence. If the orientation is not training remind employees anew of the organiza-
linked to the mission in a clear and direct linkage, tions commitment to its mission. In the case of
then the organization will miss an opportunity to excellent customer service, the Ritz-Carlton is a
start off the new employee alignment with that classic example of an organization that recognizes
mission. While everyone will likely agree with our the importance of continuing training to reach its
logic for including it in our audit template, it is still mission. They not only provide a lengthy orienta-
surprising how few organizations bother to make tion program, but also at day 21 of employment
this a component of their orientation programs. It they have a formal review session where senior
may seem expensive to add this component, and managers meet with the new employees individu-
few organizations can duplicate the Disney pro- ally to find out how things are going, to identify
gram, but not to include any mission orientation is what else that employee needs to learn, and to tell
an invitation for the wrong people to define for the him or her how important that employee is to the
new employee what the organization stands for service mission and reinforce the relevance of the
and values as important. It is better for most orga- training.
nizations to pay now as they will pay later for not Beyond this intense orientation there is an an-
having made the effort to provide the right mission nual certification process in which the employee
orientation. must show again that he or she is still qualified to
do the job and is still fully aware of the mission of
the Ritz-Carlton organization. This review occurs
Performance Appraisals Include and Reward
in addition to those at regular departmental meet-
Service Mission
ings of the twenty principles of service that are
Probably one of the more important items to in- included on the Credo Card every employee car-
clude in any alignment audit is the assessment of ries. These practices represent the alignment of
whether or not the performance appraisal and or- continual training with mission. Not only does
ganizational reward system are tied to the mission training take place on the key drivers of guest
statement in a clear, systematic way. In a recent satisfaction for this organization, but also they are
experience with an unnamed hotel in a large constantly reinforced. Many organizations con-
northern city, one of the authors asked the hotel sider this level of training an excessive expense
manager on what basis he was appraised. Budget, and not feasible for an organization that is not in
Revpar (revenue per available room), and turnover the luxury hotel market. On the other hand, any
was the answer. When asked if there was any- organization, regardless of the market it serves,
where in his appraisal form or performance review must recognize the value of ensuring that its em-
a mention of the companys mission on its commit- ployees know what they should do in creating the
ment to customer service excellence, he answered service experience that the customer expects. Con-
none. In comparison is an example from a very stant training is being increasingly recognized as
successful hotel. Here the Food and Beverage De- a necessity and not a luxury in competitive mar-
partment manager has three equal parts to his kets. As organizations come to understand the
annual performance review process and bonus value of repeat and loyal customers, they also un-
2005 Crotts, Dickson, and Ford 65

derstand that it is training in service excellence try that if you dont satisfy your customers your
that makes its customers come back and tell their competitors will be only too happy to try. When
friends. From a managerial standpoint, this is a customer counts fall off, it may be too late to start
simple point to audit: it either exists or it doesnt. If thinking about alignment. Ensuring the alignment
it doesnt, then it should be added to get this crit- of systems with the customer service mission will
ical, ongoing reminder of the mission in alignment not be cost free. However, studies of the factors that
for all employees. lead to customer loyalty, the drivers of repeat busi-
If management wants everyone to focus on the ness, and the determinants of customer satisfac-
customer service mission then ensuring that these tion report that doing the right things right has a
human resources policies or processes are in com- value that can offset the costs.23
plete alignment with that mission is a good way to
get all employees to focus on that mission. Going
Feedback on Service Quality Systematically
back to our premises stated above, employees
Provided to All
know what is important and what is not on the
basis of what the organization discusses, rewards, Feedback is a cornerstone of quality improvement
and punishes. If no one has ever lost a job on the and a logical inclusion in our audit template.24
basis of customer service but has lost a job on How can an employee do a better job at anything
technical performance of job duties, the message unless he or she knows how well that job is being
is clear as to what is valued and important, and currently performed? How can a carefully estab-
what employees are paid to do. All the mission lished standard of performance measure have any
statements in the world cant diminish the power of impact on behavior unless those whose behavior
these kinds of direct and indirect cues for behavior. needs to change know what the measures and the
When the wrong behaviors are cued the mission is results of those measures are? In the case of ser-
lost. The benchmark service organizations teach vice excellence, its not enough to know what the
us that the need to keep these critical human re- quality and value of the service experience is if
source policies and processes aligned is vital to that information isnt shared with those who de-
organizational success. liver it in ways that can help them to improve. The
benchmark service organizations measure their
commitment to service in multiple ways and then
Systems Procedures and Design
share those measures with everyone affected by
Finally, organizational systems must also be them. British Airways, for example, tracks some
aligned with the mission. In the case of customer 350 indicators of quality, ranging from on-time per-
service mission, this means that the organizational formance to aircraft cleanliness, to how much time
support people, the back of the house design, and it takes to check in for a flight. It then issues a
all the other systems that deliver the service expe- monthly report on its key performance indicators to
rience to the guest must be aligned with that mis- all its managers who can use these internally gen-
sion. If productivity standards for the bank tellers erated indicators of quality with externally gath-
are set in a way that increase waits and minimize ered customer surveys. Putting both internal and
customer satisfaction, the waiting system is out of external generated data together allows everyone
alignment. If automatic telephone trees are set up to know a wide range of measures of performance
to minimize costs instead of maximizing the cus- and to keep track of how they and their units are
tomer experience, this misalignment may lead to doing in comparison to other units. Sometimes,
customer defections. If the service recovery system industry-wide data can be made available to all
is set up to make sure no one cheats the company employees so they can see how their company is
instead of rewarding employees for finding and doing in comparison to others in the same busi-
fixing customer problems, the alignment is also ness. Airlines make these comparisons with on-
wrong. The point is that there are multiple parts of time arrival rates, lost baggage incidents, and sim-
the organizations service delivery system that can ilar measures of customer satisfaction with the
impact the customer experience and too often they airline service, giving all employees ownership in
are designed only for the convenience of the orga- performance and specific feedback on the degree
nization instead of the customer. The alignment is to which the service mission is being achieved.
off and everyone who works at the point of contact More specific information makes it possible to gain
with the unhappy customer knows it. This may be more specific alignment with the organizational
easy to audit since the number of complaints can mission. Even better, it allows each employee to
be readily correlated to the number of repeat cus- see in very specific terms how the company is
tomers. There is an old saying in the service indus- doing in areas where he or she can impact the
66 Academy of Management Executive August

results. If on-time performance is a problem in Service Delivery System Design Reflects

Chicago, then the Chicago team can meet to ad- Service Mission
dress how it can eliminate this problem as its
Another area to include in an alignment audit is
contribution to the service mission. the design of the service system or the way in
which the service is delivered to the customer.27
Consider a classic story told by the former COO of
Service Quality Systematically Measured the Ritz Carlton, Horst Schulze. He was faced with
a problem of increasing complaints on room ser-
A second area where the organization needs to vice breakfast deliveries being both cold and slow.
ensure alignment with mission is in developing The hotel general manager decided to investigate
ways to effectively fix problems that the system by organizing a team of room service employees to
measures identify.25 This issue is especially criti- find out what the root causes of the problem were
cal for organizations with service excellence mis- and how it might be fixed. The team studied the
sions, as they must work hard to turn a customer problem at great length and found out that the
who is dissatisfied with the company and its ser- cause was unavailability of elevators when break-
vice into a satisfied one. One system procedure for fast room service demand was high. The team then
doing this is the service guarantee.26 The premise decided to study why the elevators were unavail-
behind a guarantee is that the customer can use it able or slow to respond and even had a room
to trigger a series of remedial practices to a service service team member stand in an elevator for a
failure. Not only will a guarantee allow the orga- morning to write down where the elevators were
nization to successfully fix a failure but it also when the room service people wanted them, what
alerts the entire organization to that failure. The they were being used for, and even used a stop
organizations that are most successful at using the watch to clock how long the elevators took to re-
service guarantee use them to initiate investiga- spond.
tions into the organizational production and sup- What they found out was astonishing and unex-
port systems so that they can identify and fix pected. The whole problem was traced to a bad
causes of future problems. management decision to cut expenses by reducing
A well-known example is the Hampton Inns. the number of bed sheets each floor was allowed to
They recognized that no matter how much they stock (the par) for the housekeeping staff. This de-
talked about the need for all employees to focus on cision had left some floors with too few sheets and
delivering excellent customer service, it would not the housekeepers were tying up the elevators to go
occur if there were systematic impediments to pro- find sheets from other floors to finish their work.
viding such service. They realized that too often Consequently, the room service people were com-
leaders do things or require things that get in the peting for the elevators with the housekeepers and
slowed them both down. Because a manager was
way of employees providing that level of service
trying to save some money on sheets, the entire
and wanted to avoid that error by offering an un-
system was disrupted in unexpected ways with
conditional guarantee. If a customer is not com-
real additional costs. This cost saving move on
pletely satisfied with its services, you are not ex-
sheets drove up the total costs of the hotel as it
pected to pay. For many organizations the
would not charge its customers for meals that were
customer would have to seek out a manager to
not acceptable or timely.
invoke this guarantee but Hampton Inns empowers This is a good example of a system where the
its employees to honor such requests. Further, em- relationships among its parts was not thoroughly
ployees can even take the initiative to invoke the understood. The fact that the system did finally get
request on behalf of their guests. In fact, employ- studied and the discrepancy with the service mis-
ees initiate almost 40 percent of the invocations. sion discovered and corrected is a tribute to the
Hampton Inns unconditional guarantee has cre- manager who decided to find out the reason that
ated a systems cue for both guests and employees the service delivery system was not aligned with
that carry the message: When we talk about guest the organizations service mission. While the result
satisfaction we mean business. Benchmark orga- was unexpected and surprising, it should not have
nizations in guest satisfaction know how to align been. Benchmark service organizations know that
their systems to their mission, and this service everything they do sends a message and studies
guarantee is an excellent example of how this itself and its service delivery systems constantly to
organization keeps everyone focused on its mis- make sure they are all aligned to send the same
sion. message.
2005 Crotts, Dickson, and Ford 67

In an organizations complicated work world holder concerns, employee welfare, or profitability,

with the ever-increasing sophistication of the tech- it is helpful to ensure that all the things that the
nology used, it is easy to add something new to the organization does are aligned with that mission
system without realizing the impact that it might and then assessed to make sure that what needs to
have on the ability of the organization or its em- fit together to achieve that mission are actually in
ployees to meet the customers service experience place.
expectations. Buying a new automatic telephone
answering system with tree responses may more
quickly handle the typical contingencies of most Endnotes
customer problems but the same system can also 1
Powell, T. 1992. Organizational alignment as competitive
frustrate the very unique problems that some cus- advantage. Strategic Management Journal, 13(2):119 135; Bart,
tomers have. The commitment of benchmark orga- C. 1998. Mission statement rationales and organizational align-
ment in the not-for-profit health care sector. Health Care Man-
nizations to keeping all their systems aligned with
agement Review, 23(4): 54 70.
a commitment to service excellence means that 2
Tichy, N. 1983. Managing strategic change. New York, NY:
they spend the time and exert the energy to both Wiley.
study their current systems and to make sure that 3
Miles, R.E. & Snow, C.C. 1984. Fit, failure and the hall of
the system stays in alignment after any new sys- fame, California Management Review 24(3): 10 28. Miles, R.E. &
Snow, C.C. Fit, failure and the hall of fame, NY: Free Press.
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Miles, R. & Snow, C. 1986. Organizations: New concepts for
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Conclusions Powell, T. 1992. Organizational alignment as competitive
advantage. Strategic Management Journal, 13 (2): 119 135; An-
The concept of aligning everything that the orga- drews, K. 1971. The concept of corporate strategy. Homewood:
Irwin; Lawrence, P. & Lorch, J. 1967. Organization and environ-
nization does with its mission seems simple and
ment. Boston, MA: Harvard Business School Press.
obvious but is surprisingly difficult to execute. A 6
Porter, M.E. 1996. What is strategy? Harvard Business Re-
causal review of any organization shows how view 74(6): 6178.
many policies, procedures, and systems get in the 7
Nadler, D.A. & Tushman, M.L. 1997. Competing by design.
way of the mission instead of keeping everyone New York: Oxford University Press, p. 34.
focused on the goal. The idea of an alignment Bart, C. 1998. Mission statement rationales and organiza-
tional alignment in the not-for-profit health care sector. Health
audit like the one illustrated in the template here Care Management Review, 23(4), 54 70; Bart, C.K., Bontis, N., &
can be an excellent way to determine the extent to Taggar, S. 2001. A model of the impact of mission statements on
which the organization is consistently cueing its firm performance. Management Decision, Vol. 39(1): 19 28.
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more things line up pointing towards the organi-
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756 772.
thing that they do, every policy they write, form 10
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the same message to their employees and custom- boss? Contending with competing expectations from customers
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tomer service we offer is a starting point. There is 12
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ing, 56(2), 5771; Fottler, M.D., Ford, R.C., Roberts, V. & Ford, E.W.
2000. Creating a healing environment: The importance of ser-
vice setting in the new consumer-oriented healthcare system. John C. Crotts, Ph.D. is a Professor and Chair of the Hospitality
Journal of Healthcare Management, 45(2), 91107. and Tourism Management Program at the College of Charles-
Boje, D.M. 1995. Stories of the story telling organization: A ton. His research encompasses the areas of economic psychol-
postmodern analysis of Disney as Tamara-Land. Academy of ogy, tourism marketing strategy, and management of coopera-
Management Journal, 38(4), 9971035; Levin, I. 2000. Vision re- tive alliances. In 2004, the School of Hotel and Tourism
visted: Telling the story of the future. Journal of Applied Behav- Management of Hong Kong Polytechnic University ranked him
in the top one percent of scholars worldwide for his published
ioral Sciences, 36(1), 91107. Dickson, D., Ford, R., & Laval, B.
research productivity. In addition to serving as the founding
2005. The top ten excuses for bad service and how to avoid
editor of International Journal of Hospitality and Tourism Ad-
needing them. Organizational Dynamics, 34(2), 168 184.
19 ministration, he also serves on the editoral board of the Journal
Gardner, W.L., Avolio, B.J., Luthans, F., May, D.R., & Walum-
of Travel and Tourism Marketing, the Journal of Hospitality and
bwa, F. 2005. Can you see the real me? A self-based model of
Tourism and the Scandinavian Journal of Hospitality and Tour-
authentic leader and follower development. Leadership Quar-
ism Management. Contact:
terly, 16(3), 34373; Flauto, F. J. 1999. Walking the talk: The
relationship between leadership and communication compe-
tence. Journal of Leadership Studies, 6(1), 89 97. Duncan R. Dickson is an Assistant Professor at Rosen College of
Locke, E., Shaw, K., Saari, L., & Latham, G. 1981. Goal- Hospitality Management. With over thirty years in the hospital-
setting and task performance. Psychological Bulletin, 90(2): 125 ity industry he gathered expertise in Guest Service Manage-
152; Bobko, Philip, Collela, Adrienne 1994. Employee reactions ment, Human Resource Management, and Theme Park Manage-
ment. After almost twenty years with the Walt Disney World,
to performance standards: A review of research propositions.
Co., he joined the University of Central Florida in 1997, first as
Personnel Psychology, 47(1): 128.
21 an adjunct and since January 2001 as an Assistant Professor.
Buckingham, M. & Coffman, C. 1999. First, break all the
rules. New York, NY: Simon and Schuster.
Gratton & Truss op. cit.; Ulrich, D. 1998. A new mandate for
human resources. Harvard Business Review, 76(1): 124 134; Bo- Robert C. Ford is currently a Professor of Management at the
wen, D.E., Siehl, C. & Schneider, B. 1989. A framework for ana- University of Central Floridas College of Business Administra-
lyzing customer service orientations in manufacturing. Acad- tion. He joined UCF in 1993 as Chair of the Department of
emy of Management Review, 14(1), 7595. Hospitality Management and later became Associate Dean for
Reichheld, F.F., & Sasser, Jr., W.E. 1990. Zero defections: Graduate and External Programs serving until 2003. He has
Quality comes to service. Harvard Business Review, 68(5), 105 authored or co-authored over 100 articles, books, and presenta-
111; Berry, L.L. 1995. On great service: A framework for action, tions on management and organizations focusing on human
resources management and services management topics espe-
New York, NY: The Free Press; L.L. Berry 1999. Discovering the
cially on achieving service excellence in health care and hos-
soul of service: The nine drivers of sustainable business success.
pitality. His texts include Principles of Management: A Decision
New York, NY: The Free Press.
24 Making Approach, Organization Theory, Managing the Guest
Cannon, M.D., & Witherspoon, R. 2005. Actionable feed-
Experience in Hospitality and Achieving Service Excellence:
back: unlocking the power of learning and performance im-
Strategies for Healthcare. Dr. Ford has served the Academy of
provement. Academy of Management Executive, 19(2), 120 135;
Management as the Director of Placement and the Division
Silverman, S.B., Pogson, C.E., & Cober, A.B. 2005. When employ- Chair for both the Management History and the Management
ees dont get it: A model for enhancing individual employee Education and Management Development Divisions and as ed-
change in response to performance feedback. Academy of Man- itor of the Academy of Management Executive. Contact:
agement Executive, 19(2), 135148. Smither, J.W., London, M., &
Reilly, R.R. 2005. Does performance improve following multi-
source feedback? A theorectical model, meta-analysis, and re-
view of empirical findings. Personnel Psychology, 58(1), 33 67.
Hart, C.W., Heskett, J.L., & Sasser, W.E. 1990. The Profitable
Art of Service Recovery. Harvard Business Review, 68(4), 148 Editors note: This article was submitted and ac-
156; Technical Assistance Research Program. 1986. Consumer cepted after the third author completed his term as
complaint handling in America: An update study. Washington, editor of the Academy of Management Executive.
DC: Department of Consumer Affairs; Barlow, J. & Moler, C. 1996. ................................................................................