Do you have a written Customer Service Policy for your business? There is a strong possibility that if you have less than five employees you may not have taken the time to create and implement a written set of guidelines on how your business will handle and deliver customer service.
Many business professionals would not attempt to start their business without a Business Plan, whether it’s a 30-page Plan that they took to the bank and never looked at again, or a 3-5 page Plan that’s succinct, which they keep in their desk drawer and refer to on a regular basis. At the same time they often drop the ball on having an organized system to handle customer service, one that allows all in the business or organization to fully understand and become familiar with; one that is a reflection of the culture of the business.
|“Customer service shouldn’t just be a department; it should be the entire company.”—Tony Hsieh, Zappos Founder|
What is a Customer Service Policy?
Your Customer Service Policy is a document that describes the guiding principles and philosophy of your company’s delivery of customer service. It’s a document that will take some time to put together because it would have been given careful thought, careful planning and organization based on findings from management as well as on feedback from and engagement with employees, if any.
The Policy makes it obvious and easier for all employees to deliver excellent customer service. At the same time, it does not eliminate a certain measure of autonomy and discretion that has to be used in dealing with certain situations. However, your Policy will provide clear guidelines on the overall level and expectations of handling customer services concerns and issues.
Basic Components of a Customer Service Policy
There are five components, we believe, should be integrated into your Policy. You may choose to add more, but each of these is critical to ensuring that your provide excellent customer service and make each interaction with your business a great experience for your customers.
- Your Unique Point of View or generally referred to as your UVP – Unique Value Proposition: Clearly identify the products and services you provide. State the unique elements of your business that allow you to stand out from everyone else who’s providing the same products or service.
- Your Core Values: These will reflect the culture of your business, your mission and vision. These must be conveyed to employees at all levels so that they have a clear understanding of how you want customers to be treated.
- Customer Results: By putting yourself in the customer’s shoes you can take experiences that you’ve had from dealing with other companies, get feedback from employees, and ask your customers for feedback in order to determine what makes for a memorable customer experience. There are lots of documentation about companies that are delivering superior customer service. Take the time to study those companies and decide what you can apply in your business to make every contact with your company a great customer experience.
- What to do and what not to do: This has to be part of your Policy because employees may clearly understand all of the above points, but there should be a place they can refer to very quickly to determine if a specific action is approved by your company or not. Also to be included is a quick list of things to do and not to do. Keep in mind that while the bulk of your Customer Service Policy with be providing guidelines; you also need to include specific rules that must be adhered to.
- Procedures: You have all of the above and that could be enough. But you may want to ramp it up by creating Flow Charts that outline how specific issues should be handled. For example you may focus on one possible conflict that could arise with a customer. You outline in Step 1 the things that the employee should do to reach an amicable resolution. If all of those have been done but there’s still a problem what should be done next would be outlined in Step 2, etc.This gives you peace of mind so that you do not need to micro-manage employees, but it also gives employees a structure so that they know exactly what to do and whom to get assistance from.
A Customer Service Policy can be challenging to formulate but it’s an important document to have whether you’re a Solopreneur or a business with several employees. You need one whether you do Business to Business or Business to Customer. Ultimately it reduces stress because you have a structure on delivering excellent customer service with the goal of customer retention.