Customer service is vital for any business that wants to retain existing customers and grow their profit margins. When customers are happy, they buy more products and 62% of them recommend your brand to others. Customer service is the difference between an average transaction and an outstanding experience that engages and satisfies customers.
However, providing great customer service isn’t easy. In fact, bad customer service is often the norm if internet forums like Reddit are anything to go by. The good news is a generally low standard of service means it won’t be that hard to exceed customer expectations.
Even just a small increase in overall customer service quality will result in boosted sales and profits, according to 64% of companies.
A customer service policy underpins your business’s customer service efforts. It will provide your customer service reps with a set of customer service guidelines they can follow when interacting with customers, and make your business’s approach to customer service more formal and accountable. It makes it less likely that customers will suffer from instances of poor customer service.
What is a customer service policy
A customer service policy is a written code of conduct that tells your agents what to do when faced with different service situations. It also outlines the business’s vision and overall approach to customer service, defining exactly what excellent customer service looks like.
The purpose of a customer service policy is usually to establish consistency when conducting customer service. Agents are provided with specific advice they can use in their interactions with customers. It forms a common set of standards that your agents can use to guide their behavior and be assured that they are offering the best service possible.
Every customer service team needs a customer service policy that tells them how to behave and approach customers.
A customer service policy is usually circulated internally but some businesses choose to make their policy public to set customer expectations.
The importance of a customer service policy
First and foremost, effective customer service policies allow your customer service team to raise the standard of service they are able to offer. The team can benefit from concrete guidelines that explicitly tell them how they should approach customers. The business has taken the time and effort to get clear on what excellent customer service means to their brand.
When a customer service team is working from the same playbook, customers benefit from a consistent experience no matter who they interact with or what channel they contact you on. This results in fair treatment for customers who are getting in touch for the same issues, such as a refund for a defective product.
Teams work more efficiently and effectively when your customer service policies are formalized. When faced with an unfamiliar service situation, your agents can consult your customer service policy to find an answer. As a result, they can quickly get back to your customers with your business’s response. Agents who are well-informed can provide a more professional experience for customers as they are confident they know what they are talking about, raising customer satisfaction.
When customer service policies are made public, this makes it clear what customers expect who receive a promise for how they are going to be treated. Your business is making a commitment to its customers as well as a promise for the care they can expect to receive.
Businesses with outstanding customer service can benefit from increased customer retention and satisfaction. Strong customer service policies that guide your service translate into happier customers who are more likely to buy from you again, because they prefer your brand over others.
Successful customer service policies are the difference between businesses who have average customer service and those who excel.
What to include in your customer service policy
Customer service policies have a few different elements.
- Procedures – information for service reps regarding how to conduct themselves in certain situations such as handling customer complaints or escalating a situation to a manager. These are usually step-by-step guides that leave no room for ambiguity.
- Vision and values – it’s good to include in your policy what your business stands for when it comes to customer service. This is a big-picture overview that gives your service reps something to aim for in their interactions with customers.
- Guidelines – general standards for your service reps to follow when conducting business with customers. It could include something like “We always deliver service with a smile” or something similar.
- Mission statement – a statement that outlines exactly what your company does so agents know how to portray the business. It includes how your company serves its customers and the difference it aims to make in the world.
- Promise to your customers – making explicit the promise that your business is going to make to your customers and a commitment to great service. Your promise should be meaningful and authentic, and something that your company can realistically achieve.
How to create a customer service policy
Audit your existing customer service
Before you can create a successful policy, you need to know where your business currently stands in terms of customer service in order to make improvements. Audit your existing standards to find areas that are lacking and that enable you to create customer service policies to make them better.
You might also come across instances of outstanding customer service that you would like to replicate, so you can incorporate them into your policy. Your policy should increase the chance that excellent customer service is likely to occur.
Gather customer feedback
A proper customer service policy should be built around the needs of your customers. It shouldn’t be created in a vacuum but it should instead be based on what customers actually want to see from your business.
For example, maybe your customers are currently complaining about long wait times. Your business can make a commitment to reply to all customer messages in under one hour. Customers can help your business define specific goals for your customer service policy.
Make it achievable
You should aim for a standard of service in your policy that it is possible for your team to meet. It’s no good saying that all service issues will be resolved in one interaction if that’s unrealistic and your agents are destined to fail.
You must strike a balance between making your policy aspirational and achievable. Great service doesn’t have to be highly resource intensive, but can include small gestures such as customer service representatives always using the customer’s name.
Anticipate possible scenarios
Most customer service policies contain guidelines for what customer service representatives should do when faced with particular scenarios. For example, there might be a procedure to follow if a service rep encounters an abusive customer, or a customer who wants to make a complaint against the business.
This is your chance to guarantee consistency for all customer service interactions, because you outline in advance how you expect your service reps to behave. It’s not about micromanaging, but rather creating guidelines for your reps to follow.
Keep it simple
Remember, when you are writing your customer service policy that you are not in the process of creating a novel. Keep it short and to the point, documenting only what is directly relevant to your customer service representatives. Consider making your document searchable if it’s quite long, by hosting it online or publishing as a PDF.
Your service reps are much more likely to follow your customer service policy if its written in language they can understand and your guidelines relate to scenarios they actually encounter.
Review your policy
Your customer service policy should be a collaborative effort between different members of your team, including those outside customer support. Agents will be more likely to follow your policy if they have had input into its creation and have shared their own ideas.
Implementing a review process makes it more likely you will catch errors in your policy and be able to form a document that everyone can be proud of. Colleagues will be able to tell you if your policy is in line with the company’s goals and brand.
Circulate your policy
Make sure your policy is readily available for all your customer-facing employees. Digital customer service policies are fantastic because they can be made available through your company’s intranet or uploaded to an internal knowledge base. You can’t expect your service reps to follow your policy if they don’t know where it is.
You can conduct meetings and seminars to introduce your team to your new customer service policy. It might take time for your customer service reps to adopt a new policy and learn what is expected of them.
Revise and update
Your employees will undoubtedly have feedback when it comes to your customer service policy. A policy is a constantly evolving document that takes into account input from agents and actively strives to meet the needs of customers. Customers don’t stay the same, and neither should your policy.
Your team might grow or you might adopt more sophisticated customer service tools. A successful customer service policy will take these changes into account and update to reflect shifting priorities.
Hold employees accountable
A customer service policy isn’t something that you just create and forget about. You need to ascertain whether your agents are actually following your policy and building the kind of customer experiences that your business is striving for. You need to regularly evaluate employees’ performance with customers and discuss their performance in reviews.
You can offer agents incentives to adopt the customer service policy such as extra time off or the ability to choose their own shifts. Your customer service policy should be embedded in your company culture so your reps follow it without thinking.
3 customer service policy examples
Customer service policy for Metro
City of Parramatta customer service policy
Customer service policy for JIBA Group
Free customer service policy template
Our mission is to become the industry standard for [insert product or service here]. When customers think of [product], they also think of [company name].
In order to make our mission a reality, we need to strive to amaze customers with the high quality of care that we offer them, every single time. That means every customer service team member upholds a commitment to offering an exceptional standard of customer service.
These guidelines have been created to guarantee that we regularly meet the level of customer service that our customers have come to expect:
We will always:
- Be caring, upstanding, and respectful
- React well to any customer inquiries and requests
- Deal with customer issues quickly and effectively
- Regularly make efforts to raise our standard of service
We will never:
- Prolong wait times for customers who have contacted us
- Let customers down when we have made a commitment to act
- Badmouth the company or colleagues when customers are present
We appreciate you for following these guidelines and helping us in our mission to offer an outstanding level of service to our customers.
If you would like to offer your feedback about this policy, you can take it up with your line manager.
For businesses that want to offer excellent customer service, a customer service policy is essential. It provides guidance for your service reps in their dealings with customers, especially in specific scenarios like dealing with customer complaints, and raises the overall quality of care that your business is able to deliver. Many businesses have a policy because they want to standardize customer service and create a consistent experience.
Businesses who have a customer service policy have customers and employees that know what to expect, reducing the prospect of nasty surprises.
Customer service policies hold your business accountable and let you know whether you are meeting the benchmarks that you have set for yourself. If a customer service representative fails to uphold your policies you can offer them feedback and help them improve. When all customer service agents are following your policy, customers are happier and more satisfied overall.
Implementing a customer service policy doesn’t mean erasing all humanity from interactions and instructing your agents to perform like robots. Their individual personality can still shine through whilst they are presenting a coherent image of the business.