You know if you make a customer unhappy, they won’t tell five friends, they’ll tell 5,000 friends.Jeff Bezos
In the world we live in today, keeping your customers satisfied is more important than it has ever been. Having effective standard operating procedures (SOPs) can mean the difference between an unsatisfied customer spreading the word to 5,000 people and a satisfied customer that does business with you for life.
SOPs not only give customer service representatives a clear direction of what to do in a given situation, boosting customer satisfaction, but also allow you to scale your business without the need for micromanagement. You can take a vacation knowing that your customers will be taken care of according to the high standards you have set.
Whether you have no idea how to get started with SOPs or want to improve existing ones, we’ve got you covered. This article will cover 4 essential customer service SOPs. But before we get into that, is having SOPs really worth it?
In a hurry? Skip to the 4 essential SOPs.
Customer Service SOPs: Worth the Hype?
In today’s world, a customer has more options than they have ever had. Higher expectations and decreasing patience levels are side effects of this. It now takes more than ever to keep a customer happy, and the stakes are higher, too. Here’s how SOPs help exactly with that.
SOPs guide a customer service representative on precisely what to do in any given situation. Has a customer asked a specific question? There’s a set of FAQs the representative can go through to get the exact answer for them. Is a customer facing difficulties placing an order? There’s already a step-by-step process that can be followed to look up the order, pinpoint the problem, and get their order taken correctly.
Customer service representatives that have situational guidance for what needs to be done ultimately helps to build more trust and rapport with your customers, and shows them that your business is a reputable shop.
Better CSAT (Customer Satisfaction) and FCR (First Call Resolution)
We’ve all been through that call to a customer service department – the one that results in the dreaded words: “looks like I can’t help you, let me transfer you to the relevant department”. After that comes the astronomically long wait time, having to regurgitate your whole situation again to another agent who has no context on your situation, and then, if you’re not too careful, a transfer back to the same department you called originally.
Customers want their issues resolved ASAP. They don’t want to go through a loop of madness just to have a simple question answered. Representatives that can solve a customer’s problems on the first call shows that your company values their time, making them happier and more likely to do business with you in the future, not to mention higher chances of referrals from friends and family.
Dealing with Unexpected Situations
Not everyone has excellent conflict management skills. When things do go south, SOPs can come to the rescue. Whether it’s coming up with an answer to a query a representative can’t answer or a power outage affecting a large group of your customers, your employees will always know what to do.
Reducing Margin of Error
A large chunk of customer service is repetitive. Having SOPs in place, especially macros, can help reduce the margin of error in day-to-day activities. Does the representative have to fill out a form? Update an existing record?
Regardless of what it is, SOPs help reduce the margin of error by systemizing your processes and leaving very little room for things to go wrong.
Components of an SOP
Whether your SOPs are for customer service and customer support or any other department, you can adapt the following universal template. The following scenario will be used for a better explanation:
Your customer service team is working to improve its canned responses. Questions asked more than 3-5 times per day should be added to the list. Here’s how an SOP may be created for the following situation:
What is the SOP for? What issues do you aim to solve with it? It should be crystal clear what the SOP is about. Also, don’t stuff everything in one SOP; keep it to one SOP per purpose or business function.
i.e., The purpose of this SOP is to decrease response time by expanding the list of canned responses.
One SOP can potentially be used in a plethora of scenarios. Your employees may get confused about what SOP to use if the scope isn’t defined. The term “scope” here refers to scenarios where the SOP is applicable.
i.e., The scope of the SOP is new queries related to product X.
It’s crucial to define who will take action. Creating an SOP without defining who exactly should take action on it is of no use. Make sure to include any escalations to relevant departments such as IT or legal here.
i.e., Customer service representatives and customer service managers in branch X. In the event of an IT-related issue that cannot be solved by the diagnostic checklist, escalate the case to the IT Department.
As a general rule of thumb, try not to use jargon or acronyms. If their use is inevitable, define those technical words and any acronyms within the SOP.
i.e., FCR (First Call Resolution): Whether a customer’s query/complaint is resolved over the first call.
This is the crux of the SOP, and explains the exact steps that must be taken.
i.e., Customer service representative enters new queries in a given spreadsheet. The Manager then reviews those queries, and enters queries asked more than X times/day in the list of canned responses.
Include any materials or documents that will be used in the SOP.
i.e., Attach the spreadsheet where the representatives will enter the queries.
Note that these examples are extremely short, and this is NOT how a well-written SOP should look. The examples are provided to help understand the components of a well written and effective SOP.
4 Must-Have Customer Service SOPs
Now that you have a basic idea of how to create an SOP, here are four must-have SOPs for customer service:
1. Canned Reponses
Some questions are frequently asked by customers. Canned responses are answers in “response” to these questions and can be used to improve KPIs (to be linked to a future article). Essentially, canned responses are a list of answers to FAQs. These need not be limited to answers though. You can use canned responses for openers and initiating conversation, too.
Here are some issues/questions you can have canned responses for:
- Product-related questions
- Payment-related questions
- Delivery-related queries
- Refund-related issues
Canned responses are meant to be tailored and not just generic answers. By customizing them it won’t feel to the customer as if the responses are mass-spammed. Here are some examples:
“Hi! Thank you for calling [Company]. How may I help you today?”
“Alright! Could you please share your order number so I can proceed further?”
“Unfortunately, I’m not equipped to answer your queries. I’m transferring your call to the [Department Name] Department, please hold.”
Customer service representatives have to perform a lot of day-to-day repetitive tasks. Macros allow representatives to perform these tasks at the click of a button. Not only does this speed up the workflow, but it also reduces the margin of error.
With macros, you can:
- Open a new or existing form
- Open a grid record
- Search the knowledge base for the populated phase
- Do a relevance search
- Update an existing record
Here’s a rough overview of how to add macros in Dynamics 365:
- Open Dynamics 365
- Go to “Omnichannel Administration” > “Agent Productivity”
- Choose “Macros”
- Click “Create a new macro”
Next, add and edit steps to create your desired macro. These macros will be accessible to all agents. Set once, use forever.
Complications and deaths used to be at staggering highs in the surgical OT (Operation Theater). Checklists alone were able to tackle this problem – they reduced complications and cut deaths by more than 40%. Combine checklists with workflow charts, and your employees will have crystal-clear directions to follow.
Whether it’s helping a customer login to a portal or solving a conflict between a customer and another agent, checklists can be a lifesaver. The more frequently checklists are updated, the better. To ensure maximum efficiency, checklists should be updated whenever someone feels something new should be added – instead of going through a proper procedure for updating (as with an SOP).
4. Escalation Matrix
Things don’t always go as planned, and that’s fine. Even though high FCR (First Call Resolution) should be your goal, you should still have a proper pathway to follow in case an issue isn’t resolved. An escalation matrix workflow helps with when things, well, escalate.
An escalation matrix guides employees on who to contact if a problem isn’t solved in a certain period of time. E.g: A level-I engineer must transfer the call to a level-II engineer if the issue isn’t resolved within X minutes. The level-II engineer must get in touch with a level-III engineer if the problem still persists, and so on.
An escalation matrix workflow consists of:
- Response times
Here’s what an escalation matrix may look like:
How to Set the Right SOPs for Your Business
We understand that not every business is the same. An SOP ideal for a business in another industry may not be ideal for yours. There are tons of different factors that go into creating the “right” SOPs for your business.
We provide done-for-you customer service outsourcing. From training representatives and helping you create SOPs to monitoring agents to make sure they are hitting their KPIs and metrics, we take care of everything “customer service” so that you don’t have to. If you’d like to know more about how you can get started with our done-for-you SOPs and processes, get in touch with us.
SOPs help increase CSAT and FCR and decrease FRT (First Response Time), leaving no ambiguity for the representative. An SOP should consist of a purpose, scope, responsibility, definitions, procedures and references. Canned responses, macros, checklists and escalation matrices are four must-have SOPs for any customer service process.
Representatives must be given adequate training to utilize these SOPs properly. From providing training to creating SOPs that scale your business without the need for micromanagement, we take care of every inch of your customer service process for you. Get in touch with us now to see how we can help you scale, completely hassle-free.