A company’s mission statement essentially defines the company’s reason for existence. It ideally incorporates the company’s most important values, as well as provide direction for short term activities necessary for the attainment of the entity’s long-term purpose. Companies will not often change their mission statements precisely because they define their long-term objective, and continuous, the primary focus. However, in practice, only a small percentage of company’s mission statements say anything meaningful, and as a result, they are often regarded by the general public with contempt. This study seeks to rectify this oversight, given the critical significance of a mission statement, and instead develop a framework that would allow the design of a mission statement from a customer perspective. Theoretically, this would enable the company to communicate to its target demographic to ensure them of their commitment and focus and hence foster customer loyalty through improving the overall customer experience. Extant literature provided nine essential components of a good mission statement that, if written in a customer perspective, would provide an exemplary mission statement that doubles as an effective marketing tool. Future research can take an empirical research approach to quantify the impact and direction of the mission statement on customer experience and satisfaction.
Anecdotal evidence has consistently suggested that organizations that clearly define their purpose and their mission, and activate values that would support them, are positioned for long-term success. This is especially attractive in the highly dynamic and always-evolving business domain. A purpose and mission-driven organization should be explicitly clear on the reason(s) for their existence, and succinctly develop an executable plan on how they plan to achieve their set objectives. Such an economic entity is also well equipped to navigate adverse changes, disruptions, or rising expectations from stakeholders, including consumers, employees, partners, or the society at large.
Navigating market pressures is an important ability for any economic entity to possess. It is especially critical in the face of a highly competitive landscape and rate of change that is often unprecedented and unlike anything that has been prior experienced. The company’s purpose, mission, and corporate values are all strategic elements that, if carefully and thoughtfully designed and executed, develop a roadmap that would enable the organization meet their goals (Cueva, 2020). These business elements also help guide business decisions, foster and maintain customer loyalty, and inspire employees.
A mission, in a company’s context, is extremely crucial. The mission, essentially, defines why the company exists (Cueva, 2020). Therefore, a mission-driven company will seek to deliver impact, particularly to its direct stakeholder groups, including their employees, consumers, and shareholders. As a result, a mission-driven company will use its mission as a blueprint to accomplish its purpose; or what they initially set out to do. Their entire reason for existence would be to the positive benefit of their stakeholders.
The mission statement, therefore, embodies the mission. A company’s mission statement concisely outlines what a company is, its reason for being, and why it exists. The mission statement provides a succinctly stated purpose for the business. It aligns with the overall corporate philosophy and culture that would transcend the company from the present into the future. Ideally, the mission statement should outline the company’s key demographic target, its flagship product or service, and a distinction of what makes the product unique (Alegre et al., 2018). Given that the mission statement embodies the company’s reason for existence, it can be a powerful strategic communicative tool.
Companies will not often change their mission statements in time. This is due to the fact that they define their long-term purpose, and continuous, the primary focus. However, Chris Bart, a strategy and governance professor, outlines that in practice, only an estimated 10 percent of company’s mission statements say anything meaningful, and as a result, they are often regarded by the general public with contempt (Alegre et al., 2018; Bart, 1997). With the theoretical importance of a mission statement, this appears as a critical oversight.
Providing great consumer experience is imperative within any business entity. Customer experience entails the customer base perceptions of the company within their continued interactions with the business. Good customer experience often hedges, and is tailored around three critical elements; where the service provider delivers value to sate the customer’s need, the cost is usable and easy to engage with, and that the interactions are emotionally engaging and generally enjoyable (Chen et al., 2017). Customer experience is continuously assessed during customer interactions, which are the two-way engagements between the customer and the company. A customer will continually make judgments as to whether the company sates their needs, is emotionally engaging to interact with, and provides value that is easy to use.
This study, therefore, seeks to develop a specific framework that can be implemented in meaningfully defining a company’s mission. This framework will be particularly applied in the interest of understanding and incorporating consumer experiences, which would be crucial to any company’s success. Ideally, this framework can be implemented to embody a company’s true value, and mission, while ensuring that consumer experience is considered to allow better customer perception of the company and brand overall.
Due to the rather fickle nature of customer experience resting on individual perception, availing an excellent consumer experience is challenging for any company. A consumer will continually judge a company at every single interaction; when they visit the company’s retail store or front office, see an advertisement, buy products or services, navigate to the company’s website, or read the company’s mission statement. In the contemporary market that is highly dominated by the internet and e-commerce, the difficulty of delivering excellent customer experience is highly exacerbated due to exposure and choice.
Conversely, a company that effectively delivers good customer experience is at a strategic advantage over competitors. Positive customer experience leads to the fostering and maintenance of customer loyalty, as well as improved marketing, revenue, and goodwill through customer satisfaction and referrals. However, several touchpoints factor into a customer’s perception of a particular brand or company, and these touchpoints are interspersed on a cross-functional basis in that they interact towards a common endpoint (Razovsky & Kuliyev, 2019). The two primary touchpoints for great customer experience, based on its definition, would be people and the product or service. More often than not, interpersonal interaction will play a crucial role and the bulk of customer experience. This is because many of a company’s front-end interfaces are either directly manned or supervised by people. Therefore, investing in good consumer relations is imperative for excellent customer experience. Furthermore, a high-quality product or service that avails value to the customer is essential for good customer experience.
However, both of these elements, people and the product or service, are embodied in the company’s mission as the latter defines the very existence of a company. A mission statement, therefore, should ideally encompass customer experience as well. A good mission statement ought to cover the experience a company wants for its customers, and speak to how it wants its consumers to feel. The implementation of such a statement in practice is, however, widely lacking, which is why Bart (1997) outlines that mission statements are often held in contempt by consumers.
Theoretically, the most effective marketing for a company would be achieved with the alignment between its identity; its mission, what it says; mission statement, and its customers’ experiences. The mission statement can not only help attract customers, but also form part of the customer experience ecosystem that would align the company’s message in a way that appears authentic to its employees, and the customers. Any level of service that contradicts the expectations conveyed by the mission statement would lead to unhappy clientele, loss of customers, and degradation of customer perception and loyalty.
Given the significance of the mission statement, companies must understand how to effectively integrate it with the true values and corporate culture of the business entity. This would, consequently, encompass the company’s vision for its customer experience and make the customer central to its service provision, resulting in strategic advantage. This study, therefore, seeks to develop a theoretical framework that would help comprehend the alignment of customer experience with the mission statement to drive strategic corporate growth.
Purpose, Goals, and Objectives
The purpose of this study is to review the significance of aligning a company’s mission statement with its customer experience in spurring strategic growth. This research aims at outlining if a company aligning what it is; mission, with what it says; mission statement, and its customers’ experiences, leads to significant strategic growth. Resultantly, this study will develop a theoretical framework to allow a better comprehension of integrating customer experience into a company’s mission statement. This clarity on how to align a business entity’s mission statement with its customer experience would be essential in helping corporations reflect their vision for customer experience
The primary aim of this study will be to ascertain the significance of a company’s alignment of its mission statement with its customer experience for strategic growth. To achieve this goal, the following specific objectives will be adopted:
- To review the protocol of developing an excellent mission statement.
- To assess the impact of promoting positive customer experience to overall company success.
- To develop a theoretical framework for the integration of customer experience in a company(s)’ mission statement.
Organization of the Study
The following chapter will offer a comprehensive review of existing literature, relevant to this particular study. In this chapter, pertinent themes of various researches, articles, and other forms of scholarly works will be identified and reviewed to get a better comprehension of how the research problem has been contextualized in the existing body of literature. Finally, the implications of this current research to the problem statement of this study will be assessed, and the literary gap identified.
Chapter 3 of this research will outline the methodology that will be employed in this study. The chapter presents the discussion and justification of the study population and sample, as well as the methods used in the data collection and analysis, and ethical consideration. Chapter 4 then presents the results and findings of the study, contextualized within the research questions of the research. These results will be interpreted and discussed, with the implications of the problem statement covered as well. Finally, the last chapter will comprise the conclusions of the study, as well as presenting recommendations and limitations of this particular study. Suggestions for future research will also be provided.
There has been extensive research and scholarly work conducted into companies’ missions, and mission statements. However, the majority of the research is implemented within companies in industries that produce highly homogenous goods or services, with little to no room for differentiation, such as schools. In this context, it has been argued that a mission statement is highly reflective of a company’s value and overall corporate culture. However, there is inherent research interest in determining if this generally applies to companies regardless of the industry or product developed. Understanding if a company’s mission statement is truly representative of its values and ideals would be essential to outlining how to align customer experience.
Quality of Mission Statements
Various definitions of the quality of a mission statement have been provided by different authors, depending primarily on the type of company or industry under review. For instance, Bartkus et al. (2006) sought to assess the relationship of a company’s mission statement quality based on the statement’s inclusion of company stakeholders, components of the statement, and the attainment of objectives, to its financial performance. The study included a qualitative analysis, based on the proposed measures of quality of the 30 largest Japanese, U.S., and European firms listed in the Fortune Global 500. The justification for this particular sample was the assumption that large firms are more likely to have mission statements, and further, advertise them on their websites. The research findings suggested that many elements within companies’ mission statements do not correlate with financial performance. However, those mission statements that embodied what many perceive as the fundamental rules of good business had a significant positive influence on financial performance. These rules include being concerned with employee welfare, a responsibility to the community, and emphasis on the communication of the company’s value system.
On the other hand, Alegre et al. (2019) define a high-quality mission statement as one that reflects in a clear and succinct way, all that an organization embodies. These researchers sought to ascertain whether the quality of the mission statement was influenced by the timeframe within which it was created. These independent timeframes were when a mission statement is created at the inception of the company or early on in a company’s lifecycle, or formulated later on once the company is better established. The study was comprehensively justified due to the fact that many companies will have a single mission statement throughout its entire lifecycle, and managers often and should refer to it during decision-making. These researchers employed a qualitative approach using content analysis to test the differences between mission statements that had been developed through creation and formulation. They found that the formulation strategy provided more complete mission statements that the creation strategy. This was because entities that employed the formulation strategy had more and better references to relevant stakeholders, including investors that those that had developed their mission statement using the creation approach.
The mission statement is arguably essential to the strategic positioning of the company, and unlike many other resources, is often utilized for the length of the company’s life. Therefore, the mission statement should ideally be high-quality, in that it clearly and succinctly incorporates concern for stakeholders, the responsibility to the community, and communication of value. A good mission statement will be used to contextualize management decisions within the company’s corporate culture, and should, therefore, be formulated after extensive reflection of the organizational goals set out.
Perception of Mission Statements
Mission statements are widely considered effective tools for communicating organizational goals. However, various stakeholders will often perceive mission statements differently. For instance, Desmidt (2016) sought to determine how employees viewed the mission statements for the companies in which they were contracted. The data was collected from a sample size of 1418 employees of a public organization in Belgium and indicated that perceived mission statement quality and employee mission engagement were positively correlated. However, the researcher also found the individual acceptance of the mission statement varied heavily within the analyzed institution. These differences in perception were partially explained by the cognition and attributes of the receiver of the message; including the hierarchical position within the company, the person-organization fit, and their perceived self-efficacy, and employee cognition to the message’s sender; behavioral integrity, and the message itself; the ambiguity of the mission statement.
Lin and Ryan (2016), on the other hand, sought to ascertain if a mission statement had a complementary effect on a company’s branding. They acknowledged that a mission statement was a vital communication tool to a company, as it seeks to convey a clear message to shareholders, employees, and the world at large, including the media and its customers. Resultantly, understanding the relationship between a company’s mission statement and its brand equity was necessary. To achieve this objective, 518 passengers were surveyed in Taiwan Taoyuan Airport using random sampling, and the existence of trust in a brand included as a moderating variable. Structural equation modeling was then implemented to analyze the data, and the results showed positive relationships between an airline’s mission statement and passenger perceptions of brand equity and brand trust. The latter also plays a significant mediating relationship between passenger perception and brand equity.
Babnik et al. (2014) aim to outline the understanding of mission statements and their functions in influencing employee behavior from an organizational culture point of view. The researchers employed a mixed-methods approach where the quantitative aspect comprised a content analysis of mission statements from 222 companies of Slovenian origin. This was triangulated with a mission statement keyword analysis with exploratory factor analysis and an advanced network analysis approach used to obtain a better comprehension of the interrelatedness of underlying mission components. The qualitative aspect comprised of interviews with three managers. The findings suggested that mission statements often seemed to lean towards five different organizational culture orientations. These include; orientation towards stability, concern for stakeholders, orientation towards development and growth, cooperation, and innovation. Furthermore, interviews confirmed that these were significant elements to the overall organizational culture. However, different approaches were employed to foster and maintain employee commitment to a company’s mission statement relative to the size of the company under review.
Overall, the existing body of research heavily suggests that regardless of the demographic perceiving a company’s mission statement, the components of the mission statement cannot be divorced from the perception of the company itself. Therefore, this underlines the significance behind companies developing a brief, and clear mission statement that wholly embodies their values, culture, and beliefs because this statement will be widely perceived to represent and be indistinguishable from the company itself.
Mission Statements and Organizational Performance
Nwachukwu and Žufan (2017) examined the influence of customer-centric mission statements on customer satisfaction in cellphone manufacturing companies within the United States. The research identified nine mission statement components, and empirically investigated their correlation and association with customer satisfaction. A quantitative approach using content analysis was implemented for the mission statements, along with data obtained from the America Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI). A Pearson correlation and regression techniques were implemented, as well. The study results showed that the mission statement components of technology, product and service, public image, self-concept and philosophy were strongly correlated with customer satisfaction. Conversely, mission statement components of survival, profitability, the customer, and growth were insignificantly negatively correlated with customer satisfaction. Consequently, the study recommended that companies that sought to stay competitive within their respective fields should formulate mission statements that took a customer perspective to include technology, self-concept, public image, and product and service components.
Mission statements are widely adopted as an essential strategic tool, but their efficacy in influencing organizational performance is not firmly established due to inconsistent results in the literature. Macedo et al. (2016) sought to definitively address this concern by proposing a model that would examine the mediating role of organizational commitment in clarifying and explaining the relationship of the mission statement to organizational performance. The researchers adopted a quantitative methodological approach, with a representative sample of 112 healthcare organizations based in Portugal. The research findings explicitly outlined the positive relationship between mission statements and organizational performance; stating that this relationship would be better understood if the influence of organizational commitment was taken into account.
Pandey et al. (2017) also sought to determine if an organization’s mission statement had a significant influence on the entity’s performance, but for a non-profit company. The study took an exploratory approach, and consequently, qualitative analysis using text analysis to measure two distinct semantic attributes; activity and commonality of mission statements. The researchers examined whether these semantic characteristics could be associated with the improved instrumental and expressive performance of a not-for-profit performing arts organization. The research findings suggested that the attribute of activity was associated with an improvement in both instrumental and expressive functions of non-profit organizations. However, a significant limitation of the study was the non-implementation of content analysis to analyze the qualitative data further, as admitted to by the researchers, who suggested that the method could be employed to analyze the attribute of commonality further.
Duygulu et al. (2016) empirically examined the relationship between small and medium enterprises (SMEs) mission statements, with their performance in sustainable strategy formulation. They justified their research in the context that, despite there being a vast amount of research into mission statements of companies, little has been done in the performance of SMEs, and especially not concerning the relationship between mission statements and performance in this context. To achieve the study’s goals, a sample size of 3034 SMEs based and operating within Turkey’s organized industrial zones were surveyed. Nine categories of mission statements employed as the independent variables and four performance indicators as dependent variables were adopted and reviewed through logistic regression. The performance indicators were financial performance, market performance, production performance, and overall performance. The study identified three mission statement components, including (1) profit, growth and survival, (2) philosophy and values, and (3) public image as the most recurrent independent variables explaining SMEs’ performance. Profit, growth and survival was the most common observed mission statement component, regardless of the subsector differentiation of the sample, which reflects the importance of business sustainability in SMEs. Of all the performance measures, market performance was comparatively lower than all the other metrics; production, financial and overall. Similar mission statements were also highlighted, despite the firms being sourced from different manufacturing sectors, which was evidence of isomorphism among SMEs.
The existing body of research does not converge into a definitive consensus about the significance of a mission statement to an organization’s performance. However, there is wide agreement that, despite the impact of the company’s mission statement on its performance not being ascertained, there is a positive relation between a good mission statement, and a company’s performance. This underlies the significance of the development and communication of a good mission statement.
Significance of Customer Experience
Boyarsky et al. (2016) posit that every successful company inherently recognizes that it is in the customer-experience business. The companies which subscribe to this principle are highly diverse and in various industries, including retail, such as Amazon, to entertainment, such as Walt Disney, to the U.S. Air Force, which uses a B2B interface to provide air support for ground troops. However, they suggest that understanding that an organization is in the customer experience business is not sufficient to spur organizational change or long-term performance. For this, internal momentum for the formulation and execution of positive initiatives ought to be developed for unique customer experience. The aspiration arising from the need to understand the customer and deliver should not only guide but also inspire and align a company in implementing interventions to what would be otherwise just a strategy.
Customer satisfaction is imperative to a company, as a satisfied customer will more often than not provide repeat business for the entity. Such a customer will also refer other people to patronize the company’s product or business (Deng et al., 2009). Further, according to Guo et al. (2009), customer satisfaction is imperative if a company is to retain its consumer base. Gustafsson et al. (2005) mirror this finding by stating that customer satisfaction represents the derived value of a product or service provided to a consumer. An unhappy customer would not wish to foster a long-term relationship with an unsatisfactory company (Lin & Wu, 2011). Auh and Johnson (2005) also reiterate that unsavory customer experience may lead to loss of revenue and patronage. A lot of research conducted into the impact of customer experience on customer loyalty suggests a positive relationship between the two (Auh & Johnson, 2005; Khan, 2012; Sabir et al., 2014; Vesel & Zabkar, 2009). Customer experience also significantly influences organizational performance. This assertion is supported by prior research that draws a strong positive relationship between customer satisfaction and organizational performance (David et al., 2014; Devasagayarm et al., 2013; Luo et al., 2012). Therefore, customer experience is a critical element of consideration in the development of customer loyalty and organizational performance.
While the impact of a mission statement cannot be significantly attributed to organizational performance, or the lack thereof, customer satisfaction has been asserted by extant literature to have a strong correlation to performance. This can be theoretically argued as well, as in many businesses, the consumer is the most important constituent. The customer will indulge in the business’ products and services, and if satisfied, choose the organization over other competing entities; fostering loyalty. Logically, the higher the successful transactions with customers, the better the organizations overall performance would be.
Implications to the Problem Statement
Despite there being extensive research on companies’ mission statements, their influence, and customer experience, there is a shortage of research outlining the alignment of customer experience in companies’ mission statements. David et al. (2014) broadly connect their study of mission statement to customer satisfaction literature but suggest that additional research should be done to examine the implementation of customer experience within mission statements. Further, Braun et al. (2012) and David et al. (2014) posit that mission statement content, and research and practice should be aligned from an internal managerial perspective and focused on marketing to enhance customer satisfaction. This study, therefore, aims to fill this literary gap, where the alignment of mission statement content with customer experience will be reviewed, and a proposed theoretical framework implemented.
The development and significance of mission statements and their implication in the companies in which they are developed have been extensively covered in the literature. In fact, mission statements have been reviewed in management literature spanning three decades (Pearce, 1982; Powers, 2012). Therefore, a qualitative approach, comprising a retrospective content analysis of literature, will be implemented and is viable for this particular research. A content analysis, in this case, will constitute the study of communication artifacts, research papers, websites, journals and books and other forms of research media to identify patterns and examine them in a systematic, replicable fashion.
Content analysis is appropriate for this research study in that it encompasses a wide variety of non-limiting tools that can be employed to review the vast amount of literature and other research media available regarding mission statements. Furthermore, textual mission statements can be broadly reviewed, placed in their respective contextual settings, and triangulated with other available data in a less tedious and unproblematic approach. There are five available sub-categories of text that can be reviewed through a qualitative content analysis approach including; written text, such as books, research articles, and papers, oral text such as speech recordings and theatrical scripts, iconic text, including paintings, drawings, and iconology, audio-visual text such as video recordings, interview recordings, and programs, and finally hypertexts which are found on the internet (Creswell & Creswell, 2017). This approach covers a robust range of textual data and would, therefore, be appropriate to cover relevant data on mission statements comprehensively.
The nature of mission statements and quantification of customer experience can only be done textually, which makes the qualitative research approach relevant for this study. Qualitative content analysis allows the researcher to focus primarily on the intentionality of the available text and the implications. Patterns in the text can be reviewed more critically through qualitative analysis, and based on the latent meaning uncovered, the entire course of the research may be altered. As inductive research, this approach is also relevant as this study has adopted open research questions.
The content analysis implemented in this study will yield research and practical guidelines for firms to implement in the creation, modification and utilization of mission statements to improve overall customer satisfaction. Due to this aim, real-world mission statements are critiqued from a whole customer perspective, and new, exemplary mission statements crafted and proposed for consideration.
Data collection method
The data collection criteria for this research will wholly comprise secondary data sourced from online sources. Secondary data is broadly defined as any data that has already been collected through primary, first-person means, and availed for researchers to implement in their own works. In this case, the secondary data will comprise any relevant textual data that falls within any of the categories of the text discussed earlier on. For the purposes of this research, existing mission statements will be identified, critiqued, and a framework developed for the proper alignment of mission statements with customer satisfaction.
Further, given that the primary focus of this study will be the review of existing literature and supplemented by real-world analysis of mission statements and their effect on the strategic positioning of a company, the textual data collected will be further limited to strictly textual data. This will ease significantly reduce the complexity of the content analysis, reduce redundancies, and while not compromising on the overall quality of the analysis and discussion of results.
This research will exclusively use secondary data collected from online sources. Therefore, there will be no ethical considerations regarding the protection of participants. Also, since the research works of other scholars will be used in the analysis and interpretation of results, any findings that are not the researcher’s own will be appropriately cited and referenced according to APA 7 guidelines.
This research marries customer experience and satisfaction literature with mission statement literatures to ideally create a new domain of practice and research that will hopefully allow mission statements transcend to be critical elements of a contemporary company’s marketing strategy.
A Review of Mission Statements in Management Literature
The current school of thought on mission statements rests almost exclusively on guidelines that were set in the mid to late 70s by Peter Drucker (Drucker, 1974). Drucker is considered a pioneer of management research and is deemed to be pivotal in the development of modern management techniques. He asserts that posing the question “what is our business?” is synchronous to asking, “what is our mission?” and, therefore, a mission statement is integral to the very being of a business entity (Drucker, 1974, p.61). A mission statement is, thereby, defined as a declaration for the very existence of an organization, and serves to, among other things, distinguish one organization from other similar entities (Campbell & Yeung, 1991; Pearce, 1982; Pearce & David, 1987). Vast amounts of management literature also cover the benefits of having a clear mission statement (Analoui & Karami, 2002; Atrill et al., 2005; Braun et al., 2012).
King and Cleland (1979) recommended that organizations ought to carefully develop a mission statement to reap the following benefits consequently:
- Ensure that employees and managers understand the firm’s reasons for existence.
- Provide a blueprint for the prioritization of critical internal and external factors implemented to formulate feasible strategies
- Provide a basis for resource allocation, and
- Provide a common purpose to encourage work allocation and segmentation (p.88).
Overall, management literature provides that academicians and practitioners widely regard mission statements as the initial and critical step in strategic management. As such, a clear mission statement is critical for the effective formulation of management strategies and the establishment of achievable objectives (Rukstad &, 2008; Powers, 2012). However, there exists dissent as to whether the mission statement has a significant impact on a firm’s performance. A 20-year meta-analysis of empirical research on mission statements outlined that there existed a “small positive relation between mission statements and measures of financial, organizational performance” (Desmidt et al., 2011, p.468). The exact magnitude of the relationship, however, is influenced primarily by operationalization decisions.
On the other hand, the literature on marketing outlines that customer satisfaction has a strong positive correlation with organizational performance (Devasagayam et al., 2013; Luo et al., 2012.). Researchers have also noted that the perceptions of managers have gradually changed, as they increasingly tend to view customer satisfaction as a valuable intangible asset that is now a critical corporate target (Luo et al., 2012). Valentin (1996) also recommended that entire business entities should be consumer-oriented, not just marketing departments. Campbell and Yeung (1991) also suggest that mission statements should be used to foster a sense of purpose and an emotional bond between the corporation and its employees. From extant literature, an inference can be reasonably made that customer-oriented mission statements, developed from a customer’s perspective, have the capacity to impact positive organizational performance through eliciting customer satisfaction significantly.
Concisely developed mission statements can significantly assure constituents that the business is customer-centric and driven (Devasagayam et al., 2013). These mission statements, if written from a customer’s perspective, can spur salespeople, managers, and employees to provide great customer service, which invariably enhances the acquisition of customer loyalty and translate into the customers promoting and using the firm’s products and services (Bart, 1997; Luo et al., 2012). If they were developed from a customer’s perspective, then perhaps mission statements may very well accomplish their missions, promote organizational performance, enhance customer satisfaction, and be perceived as little more than smoke and mirrors (Bartkus et al., 2006; Devasagayam et al., 2013; Peyrefitte & David, 2006).
Components and characteristics of Mission Statements
Mission statements should be concise, communicative, inspiring, enduring, and conducive to both employees and customers, forming an emotional bond with a firm. Research suggests that a mission statement is especially useful if it is approximately 100 words in length, and avoids the inclusion of objectives, ratios, percentages, amounts, numbers, and monetary figures (David & David, 2003; Davies and Glaister., 1997; Kemp & Dweyer, 2003).
Strategic management practitioners and academicians also assert that an ideal mission statement features nine primary components:
- Products and services
- Concern for profitability, survival, and growth
- Concern for employees
- Concern for public image
- Technology, and
- Markets (Bart & Baetz, 1996; Pearce & David, 1987)
However, no existing literature covered outlines whether these nine components of an exemplary mission statement are written from a customer-centric perspective. Also, no prior findings were found that otherwise address the positive aspects of such kind of comments (Powers, 2012). This void in the literature is in large part the justification of this research, and from the present literature, a reasonable surmise can be made that the nine components written from a customer perspective will enable mission statements to be used as a marketing communication basis with customers (2Rego et al., 2013; 1Powers, 2012). Therefore, the content of a mission statement does matter and may represent a strategic advantage or adversity for a business entity.
Extrapolation of the Components of a Good Mission Statement
To extrapolate how literature-derived components of a mission statement can be written from a customer perspective, customer-centric content analysis for a hypothetical sporting goods company can be developed as outlined in Table 1. A significant distinction is, however, drawn to the component ‘Customers’. In this case, the customers are athletes, and this is a key component for inclusion in the mission statement (2Powers, 2012; 1Pearce & David, 1987). However, merely making reference to the customer with the word ‘consumer’ or ‘customer’ does not qualify inclusion of the component into a mission statement; and the entire mission statement as written from a customer perspective. The statement overall needs to target a specific demographic of customers better.
Table 1: Mission Statement from a Customer Perspective
|1. Customers||Defines who the firm’s customers are. The consumers in this instance are athletes seeking quality goods to use in sports.|
|2. Markets||Where the firm operates, geographically. Our primary retail store serves the lower Manhattan area.|
|3. Products and Services||Outlines the firm’s main products. We provide sporting clothes, equipment, and accessories for whatever sport required.|
|4. Concern for profitability, survival and growth||The firm is committed to growth and financial soundness. Our prices are low to provide customers with excellent value, our employees with high morale, and a reasonable return for investors.|
|5. Philosophy||The basic beliefs, aspirations, values and ethical priorities. We guarantee the utmost levels of courtesy as every employee follows our motto to observe the golden rule.|
|6. Self-concept||The firm’s distinctive competence and competitive advantage. We have partnered with the best industry brands to provide exclusive, high-quality equipment for your sporting needs|
|7. Concern for public image||Responsiveness to societal and environmental concerns. A section of the proceeds goes to community welfare programs and facilitating weekly training bootcamps.|
|8. Technology||The firm is technologically current. For your convenience, shop online and have the items delivered to you within 24-48 hours.|
|9. Concern for employees||Employees are treated as valuable assets of the firm. Our employees are on a mission to help our customers have the best shopping experience.|
The product/service component should ideally reveal the utility that the firm’s products and services avail to customers in a thoughtful, calculated manner. For instance, in a contemporary setting, the cosmetics firm Avon and L’Oreal’s mission statement states that the company sells “beauty” rather than simply perfumes and fragrances. Furthermore, self-concept should reveal a firm’s primary competitive advantage sourced from its products and services (Powers, 2012). The self-concept should also be written from a customer perspective.
Critique of existing Mission Statements
To further outline the framework of aligning a company’s mission statement with customer experience from a research and practical approach, four mission statements were randomly identified and analyzed from a list of Fortune 500 companies. These mission statements were from Dell, Pepsi, Fleetwood Enterprises, and Royal Caribbean. The mission statements were read and analyzed critically against the definitions of the components of a kind statement with the results tabulated in Table 2. The elements outlined in Table 1 were strictly used and triangulated with guidelines provided by Kemp and Dryer (2003), Pearce and David (1987), and Powers (2012) for the content analysis.
Table 2: Critique of Mission Statements
|Pepsi a||We aspire to make PepsiCo the world’s premier consumer products company, focused on convenient foods and beverages. We seek to produce healthy financial rewards for investors as we provide opportunities for growth and enrichment to our employees, our business partners, and the communities in which we operate. And in everything we do, we strive to act with honesty, openness, fairness, and integrity a||Pepsi’s mission statement is 62 words in length but lacks the following components: |
|Dell b||Dell’s mission is to be the most successful computer company in the world at delivering the best customer experience in markets we serve. In doing so, Dell will meet customer expectations of highest quality; leading technology; competitive pricing; individual and company accountability; best-in-class service and support; flexible customization capability; superior corporate citizenship; financial stability. b||Dell’s mission statement is 56 words in length. However, it lacks the following components: |
|Royal Caribbean||We are loyal to Royal Caribbean and Celebrity and strive for continuous improvement in everything we do. We always provide service with a friendly greeting and a smile. We anticipate the needs of our customers and make all efforts to exceed our customers’ expectations. We take ownership of any problem that is brought to our attention. We engage in conduct that enhances our corporate reputation and employee morale. We are committed to act in the highest ethical manner and respect the rights and dignity of others. c||The Royal Caribbean mission statement is 86 words in length. However, it lacks the following components: |
|Fleetwood Enterprises||Fleetwood Enterprises will lead the recreational vehicle and manufactured housing industries in providing quality products, with a passion for customer-driven innovation. We will emphasize training, embrace diversity and provide growth opportunities for our associates and our dealers. We will lead our industries in the application of appropriate technologies. We will operate at the highest levels of ethics and compliance with a focus on exemplary corporate governance. We will deliver value to our shareholders, positive operating results and industry-leading earnings. d||Fleetwood Enterprises’ mission statement is 80 words in length. However, the following components are missing: |
Note. a Strategic Management Insight (2013, para.1); b Strategic Management Insight (2013); c Royal Caribbean – our vision (2020, para. 1); d Reference for Business (n.d., para. 3).
Arguably, among the four companies, Dell’s mission statement is the best. This is because it addresses seven of the outlined nine components of an exemplary mission statement, and comprises a total of 86 words. However, it lacks a customer perspective overall. On the other hand, Dell, Royal Caribbean, and Fleetwood Enterprises’ mission statements simply include the word customer, which is insufficient for qualification to having a customer perspective. The statement should, rather than simply include the term, outline the key demographic targeted by the firm’s marketing efforts.
Revised Mission Statements using the Framework
In developing an exemplary mission statement, a similar sampling approach was implemented where four random companies were selected from a list of service and manufacturing firms. Each of the respective firm’s mission statements was identified, and revised using the customer-perspective approach, guidelines provided in previous research, and the defined components in Table 1. The results were then tabulated in Table 3, with research notes in italics.
Table 3: Revised Mission Statements to Address the Customer-perspective Components
|Lowes a||We are committed to exceeding the expectations of our homebuilder, homeowner, and other customers (Customers). We offer superior home improvement products (Products/Services) and expert advice (Self-Concept) at nearly 2,000 Lowe’s stores in the USA, Canada, and Mexico (Markets). We have a best-in-class electronic in-store tracking system (Technology) to help customers. We continue to create jobs (Concern for public image) in all communities where we operate. Up to 80 percent of our employees’ work is on a full-time basis (Concern for employees) and have high ethical standards (Philosophy). We put the customer first as we strive to grow profitably for our shareholders (Concern for profitability, survival and growth) (88 Words)|
|Best Buy||We are committed to providing individuals and businesses (Customers) the latest high-tech products (Products/Services) at the lowest prices of any retail store (Self-concept). Serving North America, China and other markets (Markets), all Best Buy employees (Concern for Employees) are exceptionally knowledgeable about the products we offer. We believe good ethics is good business (Philosophy) and use business analytics (Technology) to better understand customer trends. We strive to make a profit for our shareholders (Concern for profitability, survival and growth) and be a good community citizen everywhere we operate (Concern for public image) (72 Words)|
|United Parcel Service (UPS) b||We strive to be the most timely and dependable parcel and freight forwarding delivery service (Products/Services) in the world (Markets). By implementing the latest tracking technology (Technology), we are able to profitably grow (Concern for profitability, survival and growth) by offering individuals and businesses (Customers) dependable and accurate delivery times (Self-Concept). We promote from within to improve morale among all employees (Concern for Employees). Our philosophy (Philosophy) is to responsibly balance the needs of our customers, employees, shareholders, and communities (Concern for public image) in an exemplary manner (68 Words)|
|Crocs c||Crocs is committed to providing profound comfort, fun and innovation in all the shoe models (Products/Services) we produce. Through our Croslite technology (Technology) (Self-Concept), we are able to provide men, women, and children (Customers) dependable and lasting comfort all day. We strive to expand our brand throughout the world (Markets) and are able to save on costs (Concern for profitability, survival and growth), while protecting the environment (Concern for public image) with our package-less shoes. We adhere to the belief that good ethics is good business (Philosophy) in all that we do as we strive to take care of our employees and shareholders (85 Words).|
Note. a Lowe’s Companies (n.d., para. 1); b United Parcel Service Inc. (n.d., para. 2); c David (2014, p. 135).
All four statements in Table 3 are designed to include the nine elements of the customer-perspective approach. However, they are additionally concise, communicative, and are each under 100 words in length. The guidelines provided in previous research were closely followed, and supplemented with the customer perspective approach. The goal in developing these statements was to outline how the components of the customer-perspective could be implemented in a real-world example to enhance customer interaction, and ultimately satisfaction. This, however, ought to be supported by a company’s commitment to the mission message.
Implications for problem statement
The significance of a mission statement is to allow a firm cohesively to define itself, and continually adapt to the conditions prevalent in the market it operates in (Rego et al., 2013). Mission statements can also be aligned with customer experiences to allow the adaptations to align with changing consumer preferences and other competitive conditions. Customers will once sufficiently sated, actively promote, and use the products and services that are consistent with their emotional bond (Campbell & Yeung, 1991). As a result, a mission statement, if written from a customer perspective, could help foster and reinforce this bond, relative to the prevalent practice of writing statements that have no consideration of the customer perspective.
From existing literature, designing and implementing an effective mission statement would significantly aid a firm in developing a competitive advantage. A business would succeed by attracting and retaining customers, and this is achieved by the provision of utility relative to competitors. Mission statements are not simply smoke and mirrors, but theoretically, and as proven in this research analysis, practically, provide a basis for marketing strategy driven by consumer loyalty and satisfaction (Devasagyam et al., 2013; Rukstad & Collins, 2008; Valetin, 1996). A mission statement represents the raison d’être of a business, or the reason behind its very existence; which embodies why it seeks to do business, and why the customers should interact with it. The mission statement is often the passion behind a company and the basis for employee morale. If written from the customer perspective and outlined, the mission statement can also be the foundation of customer loyalty. The mission statement can be developed and included in written and oral communication with stakeholders, with the company committing to following through to attract and retain customers effectively; thereby gaining a competitive advantage.
Designing and communicating a succinct, clear business mission statement is essential in the strategic management and marketing strategy of a firm. A business entity’s short-term actions may be counter-intuitive to long-term interests absent an effective mission statement. Therefore, as a critical initial step in strategic planning, a mission statement can be designed and implemented to provide essential direction to all business activities, including marketing and communicating with the company’s most prominent constituents; the customers. With the development of an exemplary mission statement, incorporating the nine components, and the customer perspective, the mission statement can, ultimately become the foundation of a good competitive strategy.
The research sought to develop and share a framework that could be used to develop customer-centric mission statements with the critical variable of customer satisfaction. The researcher can reasonably surmise from the extant literature that mission statements have the capability of providing a potentially lucrative approach to fostering and maintaining customer loyalty through customer satisfaction (Devasagyam et al., 2013; Luo et al., 2012; Valentin, 1996). More specifically, this study positively asserts that a mission statement that incorporates the nine components of an exemplary statement, and written from a customer perspective would be associated with customer satisfaction, and ultimately loyalty. This statement can be communicated via advertisements and promotions to assure customers of the business’ commitment to them positively, and also mobilize sales agents to provide excellent customer service.
Originality and Contribution to the Body of Knowledge
From the literature review conducted, and subsequent research, there was a literary gap comprising the integration of customer experience in mission statement literature. Furthermore, previous literature on the field positively suggested that additional research was warranted in the alignment of customer perspectives and experiences with companies’ mission statements (Braun et al., 2012; David et al., 2014). This is the void that this study seeks to fill, be developing a theoretical framework from previous marketing and strategic management literature and, ideally, initiating a novel approach for mission statement theory and application.
Limitations of the research
The research does have several limitations, especially stemming from assumptions made during the analysis and development of a customer perspective framework. First was that no extant literature covered whether the nine components of an exemplary mission statement were developed from a customer-centric perspective. Furthermore, no prior findings were found that otherwise address the positive aspects of such kind of mission statements. An assumption was, therefore, made that the nine components written from a customer perspective would enable mission statements to be used as a marketing communication basis with customers. This assumption, despite being made reasonably and conservatively, is largely unfounded in prevalent literature or practice. Furthermore, the research approach used was qualitative in nature. As such, the result findings were susceptible to bias as they were primarily based on the subjective assessment and interpretation of the researcher. Due to the nature of the study being qualitative, relatively smaller sample sizes were used which may limit the replicability and generalizability of the research findings.
Scope for future research
For future research, the researcher suggests that a reputable index, namely the American Satisfaction Index (ACSI), be utilized. The index has provided relatively reliably customer satisfaction benchmarks since its inception dating back to 1994. These benchmarks are available on an annual release cycle and comprise approximately 230 companies spanning 43 industries, and hundreds of local and federal government service providers. This data can also be used comparatively to identify and compare firms with high customer satisfaction and those with lower customer satisfaction. A quantitative comparative analysis can be conducted for firms and/or government service providers as the data is available and can easily be coded.
A variety of propositions can also be examined in empirical research. For instance, with the mission statements and ACSI scores for the corresponding firms, a researcher could explore the prevalent differences between firms in different industries, such as service industries versus manufacturing industries, and the size of the respective firms, such as large multinational firms versus Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs). Further propositions, including the significance of mission statements to consumers, can also be reviewed and contextualized across different industries. Furthermore, assessing the impact of mission statements in fostering customer loyalty across industries could provide invaluable information for academicians and practitioners alike. Empirical studies can examine the nature, direction and role of mission statements in influencing customer satisfaction scores with various moderating and controlling variables implemented as well.
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