All companies provide more or less the same products and services. Good customer service is the only competitive differentiator you can have. So, how can you give your customers consistently great service? By creating customer service policies.
The terms may carry an air of strictness, but in reality, they are the foundation for successful, extraordinary customer support. Customer service policies are meant to give your support team a clear rulebook for great customer service. Take a look at what is customer service policy, why it is important, what you should include in a customer service policy, and how to create one.
What is a Customer Service Policy?
Customer service policies are written codes of conduct that give employees guidelines to follow in various service scenarios. For example, you may have a policy for answering customer questions or dealing with refunds in a specific manner. Written policies are put in place to inform your employees of customer service processes and the appropriate steps to take in certain situations.
Why are Customer Service Policies Important?
Customer service policies help your teams follow a routine practice, such as finding the quickest way to resolve issues or the most efficient way to answer frequently asked questions (FAQs). They help you improve your customer service continually and keep the operations as efficient and organized as possible.
Besides, you can’t leave customer service to the assumption of individual employees. Maybe you have a service representative who thinks a particular issue is eligible for a refund while another thinks it doesn’t. This may result in an inconsistent or unequal customer experience. With customer service policies in place, customer service representatives clearly know what to do in different scenarios. Policies are vital to operations because they:
#1 Keep service reps on the same page: Customer service policies keep everyone on the same page. When a situation arises, they immediately know what to do without getting carried away by their personal judgments.
#2 Enable consistent support: With policies, your customers will experience consistent support regardless of what channel they use or who they talk to. Customers now know what they can expect from you.
#3 Set important benchmarks in stone: Customer service policies also include the standards of service to be met, with important benchmarks and metrics. When a certain resolution time is commonly agreed upon, your whole team knows what they should aim for and what is achievable.
#4 Help you provide better support: Customer service policies are carefully curated based on a company’s capacity to do things. They eliminate any disagreement on what it means to provide good customer service.
What is Included in a Customer Service Policy?
Customer service policies may include a number of details based on your industry and needs. Typical examples are:
#1 Product and service description: You may provide an outline of the products and services your company offers. You can include supporting videos, articles, and explanations that can be constantly updated.
#2 Customer service workflows: What warrants a refund and what doesn’t? What is the procedure to onboard a new customer? Your customer service policies define and lay out these workflows step by step. They are basically user manuals for customer service reps.
#3 Customer service benchmarks: As discussed, a customer service policy includes industry-standard benchmarks to aim for.
#4 Customer service promises: These are your company’s mission statements. Your customers can trust you better when you are transparent about what you deliver.
How Do You Create a Customer Service Policy?
You can create and adopt customer service policies with these simple steps.
1. Create a Mission Statement
A mission statement is a reminder and guiding force for your customer service team. It is a goal that states how your business wants to interact with customers and is a great way to keep your team united, driven, and on the same page. These mission statements or promises are usually included on company websites, internal knowledge bases, physical posters in offices, etc for the reference of customers.
2. Give Employees Guidelines for Problem Solving
The hardest issues to deal with are negative customer interactions. Create a set of guidelines that can be referred for quick, easy problem solving, such as:
- Understanding the problem – Letting the customer speak, taking relevant notes, and repeating what you understand to be the issue.
- Understanding the cause of the problem – What should have happened that did not? Remember, it is best to choose problem resolution over blame games.
- Offering solutions – Suggest a way to fix the problem, and see if the customer agrees or has a resolution of their own. All stakeholders should work together to come up with an answer.
- Solving the problem – Take action and fix the issue. Make sure the customer is happy with the solution.
3. Create a Reimbursement Policy
This is a necessary policy to have in place, as it will save your business money and avoid exploitation. It is essential to have cut-off dates for how long an issue can remain open and eligible for reimbursement.
4. Incorporate Customer Feedback
If policies and procedures are being set by someone who doesn’t have knowledge of or experience with customer service, they can work against the customer support system. A balance must be found between the policy writer’s necessary enforcements (refund cut-off dates, protection against fraud and exploitation, professional conduct, quality service, etc.) and the customer service team’s need for flexibility to serve their customers best.
Tailor your policies to customers’ needs. Set up a system to record customer complaints, customer surveys, issues, and comments in real-time so you can better understand what they expect from your business, or what problems keep arising that you can improve upon and avoid in the future. You can gather information from customers through social media surveys, from employees through focus groups, and from vendors or service providers through shipping information or call-center follow-ups.
5. Create a Code of Conduct
This may sound obvious, but customer service representatives must provide professional service and appropriate presentation at all times. The support team is, in a sense, the face of your business; they are who your customers interact with if they have questions, concerns, or other opinions. All personal business should be left out of customer interactions, and each interaction should be representative of a successful, knowledgeable, professional business.
6. Set Achievable Benchmarks
While setting benchmarks, take into account the goals you have the resources for rather than the ones that are common. While it is crucial to have fast resolution times, it is also essential not to undermine the versatility of issues. One may be easier to resolve while another may be complex. You should have different rules for different scenarios, all achievable.
7. Balance Benchmarks vs. Values
While setting the service standards, you should also find a balance between resolving issues and building relationships. A plain, obvious transactional interaction does not pay in the long run. Don’t compromise the company values for achieving the benchmarks. If customer satisfaction is your key value, don’t cut a customer just to record a fast resolution time and maintain efficiency. It is important to include these gray areas in your customer service policies.
8. Allow Some Wiggle Room
The main goal is to make the customer happy. Do everything you can to do so, while politely letting customers know of any policies related to their concerns. Many customers expect a quick dismissal (“We’re sorry, but company policy won’t allow us to…”) – prove to them that you are focused on customer expectations and satisfaction, rather than the policies.
9. Enable Policy Adoption
Whenever a new policy or update is in place (or when a new member joins your team), it is a good idea to hold a meeting to outline the plan. This will ensure everyone is aware and is on the same page. Conduct periodical meetings and customer service training to refresh and reinforce the policies. Roleplaying different customer scenarios is one of the best ways to keep your employees ready for anything.
10. Improve the Policies Continuously
Find out what customers think your customer service strengths and weaknesses are, and come up with a plan for continuous improvement. Static customer policies that don’t evolve with you can stunt your customer service efforts. Maybe you have a bigger team than before. Maybe you have better tools and technologies now. You should update and upgrade your customer service policies according to what you are capable of now.
Customer Service Policies Ensure Consistent Support
Customer service affects the overall satisfaction of your customers and the long-term success of your business. Enforcing and continually looking for new ways to improve policies and procedures will allow your customer service team to consistently deliver excellent customer service and improve customer retention.
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