A customer service policy provides a great amount of value. Not only for the customer himself, but for your organization as well. Without a policy, your business is at risk of losing loyal customers and losing potential customers to your competitors.
According to Kissmetrics (Kissmetrics.com), 71% of consumers end a business relationship due to poorly designed or non-existent customer service policies. While 44% of customers switch to a competitor after a bad customer service experience. On the other hand, a business with a healthy customer service policy leads to lifetime customers. According to InsightSquared, 50% use a company more frequently after a positive customer experience.
This guide will show you how to build a basic customer service policy. When you understand the basics of your business’ customer service policy, download our basic customer service policy template to build your own customized document. Plus, you’ll receive a free PDF copy of this customer service policy guide to use as a reference!
What is a Customer Service Policy?
Put simply, a customer service policy is a document that lays out the steps that a business must follow when they interact with customers who are not satisfied with their product or service.
Specifically, a customer service policy should contain details around:
➔ Customer Service Culture
➔ Customer Service Ethics
➔ Customer Service Procedures
Customer Service Culture and Your Business
Everyone within your organization must keep in mind the importance of customer satisfaction. From top to bottom, every employee must be on the same page regardless of her position or title.
Zappos.com has quickly become the go-to example of exceptional customer service. The employees here have repeatedly gone above and beyond to not just satisfy customers, but thrill them. How does Zappos.com produce such consistent levels of customer service? It’s ingrained in the culture. All employees at Zappos.com hold the company’s core values near and dear. Particularly the #1 core value: Deliver WOW Through Service. Even as early as the interview process, Zappos.com ensures that everyone they bring on board is dedicated to stellar customer service.
Awareness of your business’ policy should start from the very beginning. From the moment an employee is hired, they must be made aware of the values and goals the company follows when dealing with customers.
To promote awareness of customer service policies, companies use various tactics to educate and encourage employees. Some companies use signs and posters that promote the ideal culture as a way to constantly remind employees of their goals.
Many look for excellent examples of customer service and reward those who actively promote the culture. Promoting good behavior has always been a great way to ensure excellent service. Typically, instances of stellar customer service will be highlighted and reported by the customer. That’s really the ultimate sign that your business’ customer service is on-policy.
Some companies focus on the negatives and ask their employees to focus on improving in different areas. Similarly to customers singing praises in reviews, customers can also call out specific employees on lackluster service efforts. If this does occur, it’s important to bring to the attention of the employee and discussed on areas of opportunity. While this is an effective tactic, don’t lose sight of what was done right!
Customer Service Ethics
A Code of Ethics is a philosophy that addresses questions about morality. Ethics can play a big role in customer service. When outlining a code of ethics, remember the following:
A happy customer is a returning customer.
Laura Stack, MBA, CSP, CPAE, aka The Productivity Pro® has a code of 7 core beliefs that her and her team at The Productivity Pro® have followed for over two decades. Stack places the utmost priority on understanding that your business only exists because of the customer and will continue to exist because of the customer.
Your business’ Customer Service Code of Ethics can be geared towards employee interactions with customers, employee mindset in general or the business-customer relationship.
Customer Interaction Ethics
- We will always listen to our customers.
- We will handle all customer service challenges in a timely manner.
Employee Mindset Ethics
- Our choices impact our customers.
- We will maintain a positive attitude toward our customers.
Business-Customer Relationship Ethics
- We will treat our customers like family.
- We will focus on solving our customer’s problems.
Customer Service Procedures
With your culture and ethics outlined, it’s time to standardize your customer service operating procedures. Your customer service procedures outline steps that must be taken when a given customer service related event occurs. These typically are standardized and documented due to the recurring nature of these events.
Procedures In Practice
There are several areas within your business that will benefit from set procedures. Including, but certainly not limited to the following:
- Website/Online Chat
- Telephone Calls
- Face-to-Face Exchanges
- Email Exchanges
- Security and Privacy
- Customer Feedback
An example of a procedure might be defined for the event that an order is placed from your company’s website. When an order is placed, a procedure could dictate how the order is handled internally.
EVENT: An order is placed from your company’s website.
PROCEDURE: Dictates what emails are sent & when, how the product is packed and shipped, fulfillment priorities, etc.
*TIP: Include a return label with the order and customer service contact details in order to provide easy solutions to common issues.
Furthering our example, one procedure can outline the order confirmation process. In this case, after placing an order, the customer receives a well-crafted email confirming the purchase and providing customer service contact details in case the order is wrong or misplaced.
One other example of a procedure may detail how a customer service call is handled. In the event that a customer places an incorrect order, they have the option to call your customer service specialist. From there the customer confirms his or her account details with the specialist as an effort to maintain their account security and privacy. Additionally, a policy may indicate that all calls are recorded for quality assurance and training purposes.
EVENT: A customer places an incorrect order, then calls your support phone number.
YOUR PROCEDURE: Greet politely, gather customer account into for security, Inform customer that calls may be recoded. Ask about problem & direct to solution
Characteristics of Quality Procedures
Ideally, customer service procedures are documented processes that repeat for specific scenarios.
Quality procedures are:
➔ Clearly Defined
Creating Your Customer Service Policy
Now that you understand the purpose and essentials of a quality customer service policy, you can begin to implement the strategies discussed here within your own business. Remember, every business is unique. Your customer service policy should reflect exactly that!
While every business’ customer service policy will be unique, each will include these key facets:
- Customer Service Culture
- Customer Service Ethics
- Customer Service Procedures