Your customers can make or break your company, so it’s important to invest in your customer service strategy. A happy customer has the power to refer multiple other prospects to your company, building trust by talking about their positive experience. On the other hand, a frustrated customer can deter others from purchasing from your business. Create a customer service manual document so your employees know how to interact with your customers and create a loyal consumer base.
Outline Your Company Vision, Mission and Core Values
Begin your customer service manual doc by stating your company’s vision, mission and core values. It’s important to start off your manual with this overarching information because it helps to anchor your customer service strategy and gives your employees context about why certain policies exist.
Your company’s vision is the “big idea” of why you’re here in the first place, while your mission is the more tactical approach to how you will achieve your vision. The core values of your organization represent the basic tenants of how you want every member of your company to behave. Core values may include:
Ensure that your vision, mission and core values are customer-focused, as your customers are the people who your business is targeted toward.
Describe Your Customers’ Needs
In the next section of your customer service manual doc, describe your target audience in detail. It’s vital for your employees to understand who you’re catering to and what their needs are. Include demographic information of your target markets such as their age, gender, profession and income, in addition to behavioral characteristics such as interest in environmental sustainability or outdoor sports.
Outline the main problems your customers are experiencing and how your business can help them. This gives your employees background on your customers’ frustrations. For example, if your customers have issues with finding clothes in their size, you can deduce that they find shopping to be a stressful experience. This gives your customer service representatives the insight to help your customers feel more at ease when browsing in your store.
Your customers may have a range of needs, which include:
- Product functionality
- Affordable price
- Easy user experience
- Functional design
- Business reliability
- Range of options
Outline for your employees the top three to five needs your customers have when interacting with your business. Explain to them what is most important to your customers, as this will enable your employees to better cater to them. For example, if your customers value a low price over all other needs, then your employees will know to promote or recommend lower-priced products in order to encourage sales.
Define What Customer Service Means to Your Company
Specify what the scope of customer service is at your organization. These days, customer service can cover a range of tasks and be spread out over various kinds of technology, so it’s critical to outline what you mean when you talk about customer service.
Customer service at your organization can include:
- Phone calls
- In-person visits
- Social media
- Online chat
There are many ways for your customers to speak with your employees. Outline what kind of service you expect for each avenue. For example, do you expect your employees to respond to email queries within 48 hours or 24 hours? How quickly should an employee approach a prospect in the store? What kinds of questions can an employee expect to field over on your social media accounts? This information is necessary for employees to know so that they can meet your company’s guidelines and your customers’ expectations.
Detail Specific Customer Service Policies
Your customer service instructions need to describe the processes for specific policies. This will help your employees to troubleshoot any issues themselves and take initiative when working through problems with customers. It also ensures a sense of consistency for your customers, who know what they can expect when interacting with your business.
Policies to consider including in your customer service manual include:
- Company credit
- Gift cards
- Late payments
- Faulty product or service
Include step-by-step instructions on how to execute the process for each policy. Go into detail so that your employees have all of the critical information in one resource they can consult whenever they have a question. Include graphics or photographs to help employees understand the process, wherever possible.
Point to Additional Resources
Regardless of how much initiative your employees have or how self-sufficient they are, there may be a time when they need some assistance. A customer service manual example should include a contact information list for who the employees can contact for help on specific policies. For example, for questions on refunds and exchanges, they can speak with one of the customer service managers. For questions on warranties, they need to contact the manufacturing manager.
Also include links to additional resources your employees can consult. If you have more details on specific policies, for example, link to that in your customer service manual doc. If your company has recently taken conflict resolution training, link to the training documents in your customer service manual. Having these resources at their fingertips empowers employees to access the information they need to excel at their jobs.
Share and Implement Your Customer Service Manual Doc
Share your customer service document with all employees, regardless of whether they are on the customer service team. This helps to create a company-wide culture that focuses on customer service and tells each employee how valuable good customer service is to your organization.
When a new employee joins your customer service team, give them time on their first day to sit and review the customer service manual doc in detail. Have a senior employee review each section of the document with them to ensure they are comfortable with the information and understand how to carry out your customer service policies.
Implement the use of your customer service manual doc by reminding your employees of the valuable information it contains. If an employee asks you about an issue that is covered in the manual, gently remind them that they can review that information in their resource. After all, the manual is designed to ensure your employees perform at their best, so it’s critical to enforce the use of the manual whenever possible.
Ask Your Customers and Employees For Regular Feedback
Measure the success of your customer service manual doc by regularly asking your customers for feedback. You can conduct online surveys or ask key accounts about how they find the customer service. Be sure to take into consideration what your customers say and use it to improve your customer service policies. For example, if you consistently hear from your customers that the wait time on the phone is too long, then you can revisit your process for phone conversations with employees. You may need to hire additional phone operators or try out a new telephone system.
Your frontline employees have invaluable insight into how customers perceive your business. They are the ones who interact with them every day. Ask them in your monthly meetings about how the customer service manual is working out. Do they notice any knowledge gaps? Are there any policies that work in theory but not in practice? Whenever possible, try to revise your manual based on this feedback to improve your customer service. In addition to making your customers happy, this shows your employees how important a role they play in your organization.
- It may be easier to dictate the manual into a tape recorder and then have someone create a transcript for you, especially if you know the policies well but don't feel confident you can write the manual in a clear, straightforward manner.
Anam Ahmed is a Toronto-based writer and editor with over a decade of experience helping small businesses and entrepreneurs reach new heights. She has experience ghostwriting and editing business books, especially those in the "For Dummies" series, in addition to writing and editing web content for the brand. Anam works as a marketing strategist and copywriter, collaborating with everyone from Fortune 500 companies to start-ups, lifestyle bloggers to professional athletes. As a small business owner herself, she is well-versed in what it takes to run and market a small business. Anam earned an M.A. from the University of Toronto and a B.A.H. from Queen's University. Learn more at www.anamahmed.ca.