“What’s your long-term vision for your company?”

“How can your customer service department make your vision a reality?”

I ask industry business owners and leaders these two questions in tandem frequently. The answers I get back are never confident, and I know why: These questions, together, have never occurred to many of them. In fact, most of you are leaving an important aspect of your business completely out of your long-term thinking. It’s a mistake.

When we think of growth and vision for our companies, it’s easy for us to get caught up in the obvious things we need. How many people should we hire? How many trucks will we need? What’s our revenue goal?

These are all important aspects of achieving your long-term vision, but I want to give you a less-than-obvious tip: Consider the people who deal with your customers over the phone when making and enacting long-term plans.

Buying into the buzz

Let’s say you want your company to become the best service provider in your area within the next five years. To you, this means that you’ll have grown past your competition while maintaining higher customer reviews than any other company.

Normally, when an owner or company leader decides to take a business to new heights, there’s a feeling of excitement. This feeling is contagious. Managers meet frequently; they map out a plan for growth. Marketing plans are developed, along with plans to improve performance in the field. Everyone in the organization can feel the buzz. Changes start to happen fast.

But where’s your internal phone team in all of this? Problems start to crop up when your internal team — the people who deal with your customers over the phone — is left out of the planning meetings. They may not know exactly what’s going on. The buzz around the office can be felt, and maybe partially communicated to them by leadership, but the people you have manning the phones can’t buy into the buzz because they don’t understand how to contribute.

There’s a better way to do things. To reduce problems down the road, make the internal team an integral part of all plans. Your company’s goal of being the best should permeate everything they do. Allow your internal team to help you evaluate your phone scripts to better reflect the words and attitudes that meet your shared goal. Every interaction with a customer should be measured against your company’s definition of greatness. Something as simple as a confirmation call that lets customers know a tech is on the way should go above and beyond “average.” When your entire team is aimed at the same target — greatness — you become a powerful force.

Even if your company’s long-term goals feel like they’re far in the future, challenge your internal phone team to act as if they’re already the best. The faster they decide they want to be great, the faster they’ll be able to help your business achieve long-term success.

Sometimes, it’s possible to forget just how important your customer service team is to your business. You spend so much money to develop your brand and your reputation — advertising, wrapping vehicles, going to home shows — all to get consumers to call your business. But some of you have those incredibly important and expensive calls answered by the lowest-paid, least-trained and least-appreciated people in your entire organization. Don’t let this happen to you! Ensure your CS team is involved, and trained and knows how vital they are to your company.

Vital to success

There are other benefits to involving your internal team in planning. Human beings are funny creatures– when we aren’t given the details of a situation, we tend to make up our own stories. The problem is, those stories are rarely in favor of the business. If your internal phone team sees everyone except them getting excited and working on new, different things, they might feel that the company was moving on without them. From there, and without more details, it wouldn’t be a far leap for them to guess that the company had been sold. (Possibly to a business that already has a solid phone team.) Your team might decide amongst themselves that they were all going to be replaced, and begin to quietly panic.

Does this seem like a stretch to you? Put yourself in their shoes. What if you had no idea what was going on? Remember, you’re informed about everything that goes on in your organization, so the same rules don’t apply.

Give your phone team clear direction in their jobs. If the business is striving to become the best in your area, then everything your team does can be held to that standard. If you’re reevaluating and rewriting a script with this team, like we talked about above, everyone would be involved. Then the question would be asked of everyone, “Is this what the best service company in this market would sound like?”

Make your entire team a part of your future vision. You’ll be surprised by the positive changes that result from involvement and clear direction.