Companies know that providing good customer support is more than a nice-to-have. Customer service can make or break the success of a company. In fact, US companies alone lose more $62 billion annually due to poor customer service. The first step to having good customer service is having a customer service policy.
The best strategy for offering great customer support is having employees that are empowered to help out your customers, having the freedom to make the decision they see fit. Yet if you want consistent service across the whole company, you’ll need guidelines in place. That’s why having a customer service policy is key.
It doesn’t need to be overly complicated or hundreds of pages long. Even a simple one will help you and your team make your customer happier.
Why You Need a Customer Service Policy
A customer support policy is the first step, if not the most basic one, to providing consistently great customer support. Taking the time to sit down and compile everything that relates to supporting your customer is a great exercise of humility because it shows you how things actually are.
Documenting your customer support workflows will provide consistency across the board while also empowering your employees to make the decision they consider best within the given framework. Use it wisely!
A good customer service policy will reflect the work you’re already doing to help your customers when they need it.
If you’re offering honest customer service (and you should), you’ll have an honest customer service policy.
Things to Consider When Writing Your Service Policy
Before you start compiling information to develop your customer service policy, you’ll need to ask yourself (and your company) a few questions. Use this list of details as a reference to create an outline using this simple template.
- Who is your customer?
- What are your most significant customer service issues?
- What happens when an agent is unable to solve an issue, what’s the escalation process like?
- How do you typically resolve customer’s issues? How much freedom do agents have to solve a customer’s problem?
- What’s the flow that customers need to follow in order to reach your support team?
- What are your return/cancellation/exchange policies?
- What are the basic tools and resources that agents should know and use?
Once you’ve developed the first draft of your customer service policy, make sure you take the time to share it with the team and get their feedback. This is a key step not just to improve it and make it better, but also toward involving people that might otherwise feel left out if you haven’t consulted them.
Your support agents probably have a ton of useful information on how to interact with customers based on the fact that they interact with them daily! Make sure you don’t leave them out of this process. Once they’ve provided their comments, you can make changes to your policy before its final publication.
There are other things to take into account when you’re designing your policy:
A living document: Your customer support policy will be an active document — you should be able to modify it and adapt it whenever things change.
Easy to read: Make your customer service policy straightforward and reader-friendly. You don’t know the level of experience of the person reading it, so make sure it’s easy to understand no matter the level of seniority.
Reliable: The point of developing a customer service policy is to stick to it! This will ensure consistency, while having the freedom to know what your support team can and can’t do.
Your Template To Develop A Customer Service Policy
We recommend focusing on what’s important to your company. Transparency and honesty go a long way.
When using this template make sure you customize it as needed. For example, you might not offer phone support in which case you obviously don’t need to focus on that. Or maybe that’s the only type of support you offer, so you’ll want to make sure you provide a lot of detail on phone etiquette and the structure that go in a typical support call so your agents can use it as a reference, especially the new hires.
In other words, don’t be afraid to make as many changes as you consider necessary so that this template serves your company’s purpose. That includes removing or adding new sections! The more personalized your policy is, the more useful it’ll be for you and your team.
Below you’ll find the basic sections of a customer service policy and an explanation of what should go into it.
- Company Overview and Background
- Customer Service Team’s Goal
- Communicating with Customers
- Support Team Structure
- Building Your Team
- Support Workflow
- Dealing with Customers
- General Policies
Measuring Customer Satisfaction
- Goals and Metrics
Company Overview and Background
Start your customer service policy covering the basics: telling readers what drives your company, what the core of your business is and where you plan to go in the future. Use this section to explain your company’s history and provide context as to why you do what you do.
- History: Provide some background information about your company’s story
- Vision Statement: Describe your company’s vision
- Mission Statement: Describe your company’s mission
Customer Service Team’s Goal
Use this section to explain clearly what your goal is as the customer service team. This should be the specific goal that best captures the core value your team delivers to customers. When you list what your vision is you indirectly will help readers know where their priorities should be.
Communicating with Customers
How your team communicates with your customers is probably what makes or breaks the relationship with them, so make sure you provide good examples of how your team should communicate with your customers. For example, you can mention the tone of voice you’ll be using. If your target audience are teenagers you probably don’t want to sound overly formal when talking to your customers. Consider including emojis and gifs as part of your customer conversational tone.
What’s the structure of your team and how does your team manage itself in order to be efficient? In this section, you’ll list all of the “how-to’s” that your team regularly works on, from the tools they use to the process that goes into hiring a new member.
Support Team Structure
Your team might be composed of hundreds of people or maybe it’s just a small team of five but there’s probably some sort of hierarchical structure. Use this section to explain how the department is organized, listing key information like regions or squads that might exist in the department. Adding the names of team leaders or an organization chart can help new hires to know who to reach for help.
Building Your Team
- Team Organization: What are your working hours? Will you offer support on weekends? How are vacation periods organized so you offer continuous support? List your team’s scheduling here.
- New Hires: Explain what you look for in new hires, what the key skills are and the process involved in hiring new people.
- Training: Cover the onboarding process and refer to any manuals you might use.
This key section lists all of the resources that are available for your team to do their job and fulfill the team’s mission. Essentially, you want to make sure that everyone is aware of the tools that they have at their disposal to be able to do a great job.
- Software: No matter what your business is, your customer support reps will probably use specific software to handle tickets. Use this section to list these out and link to any documentation that exists, so they know where to go if they have questions.
- Applications and Tools: You’ll want to include any tool that employees use to handle tickets as well as other tools used to do their job. This can range from communication applications like Slack, to tools to quickly insert snippets of text, like TextExpander.
Here’s where you’ll list the workflows of your support reps, paying special attention to how the team addresses tickets sent to them and how issues are solved. You can use this section to discuss what’s expected from each agent and what success looks like in terms of customer satisfaction.
- FAQs: Every company has a list of questions that lead to them contacting support. Save your employees’ time by listing them here, together with their answers.
- Phone support: Good telephone etiquette helps agents deal with people in a polite and efficient manner over the telephone. It’s not always easy, so make sure you use this opportunity to provide helpful tips on how to interact with your customers on the phone. From greeting to looking for a solution, you can provide all the steps involved.
Dealing with Customers
Nowadays, you can expect customers to interact with you in a number of ways, beyond phone support: email, Facebook, Instagram, even commenting on one of your posts. Questions can come from multiple sources. Make sure you provide your support reps with solid practices on how they should interact with customers.
- What to do if you can’t find the solution: Your customer support reps need to feel confident on what to do when they are unable to help a customer, in other words, how the escalation process works.
Offering transparency as to what happens and in which circumstances a customer can return something they bought, or cancel their subscription is paramount to ensuring great support. Explaining this in detail means that you’ll get a consistent response across the whole team, which will make your support reps feel more confident and in control.
Consider creating text snippets for common policy questions so that agents have content to draw from.
Measuring Customer Satisfaction
You can’t develop a great customer service policy unless you understand what your customer wants from the product or service you offer. A way to find this out is customer satisfaction levels. You can read what the customer service metrics you can track to show your team’s success.
Goals and Metrics
What are your goals for support? How do you measure your customer’s satisfaction?
You can read some tips on how to measure customer satisfaction here. Some key metrics to focus on are:
- Average Resolution Time
- Customer Effort Score
- Churn Rate
- Renewal Rate
- Customer Satisfaction
Help Your Team With a Customer Support Policy That Works
A customer support policy is the first step to providing consistently great customer support. It will provide consistency across the board while also empowering your employees to make the decision they consider best within the given framework.
Your customer service policy doesn’t need to be overly complicated or hundreds of pages long. Even a simple one will help you and your employees do better work.