Interpreting business policies typically involves explaining company procedures, often written in bureaucratic language, to customers who are already irritated and upset. By acknowledging their frustration and using plain and ordinary language to describe what’s required from the customer to proceed, customer service representatives can diffuse a tense situation, maximize the opportunity to conduct a successful transaction and provide pointers to other information, such as brochures, website links and other phone numbers for help and support.
Back up the business policy by describing how it helps streamline business transactions that actually help customers in the long run. Provide details about why changes to previous policies make the current policy more advantageous in terms of long-term gains. Cite any laws, studies conducted, customer feedback obtained or conventional business practices that reinforce the implementation of the business practice.
Involve customers in the interpretation of any business policy. Ask for candid feedback about how the rules impact their business. For example, record input with online surveys using free software applications such as Qualtrics, Zoomerang or SurveyMonkey. Publish your findings so that customers can see that you have taken their feedback seriously and intend to act on their suggestions. For example, reducing customer service hours may negatively impact a customer’s business but reduce the overall costs, so the benefits of such policies must be made clear or dissatisfaction occurs.
Explain alternatives. If the current interpretation of the business policy for your organization makes it impossible for a customer to do business with you, examine options, particularly if the customer account presents lucrative opportunities or shows significant loyalty. Avoid damaging your company’s reputation by taking a firm stance without considering other possibilities. For example, propose other options for handling customer inquiries, such as social media technology, including wikis, blogs and forums. Educate customers on training opportunities and resources available on the company website to defer and offset dissatisfaction with business policies.
Leave strict interpretation for implementation if the customer resists. Propose an implementation date that allows the customer time to adjust to your new policy and enforcement of a current policy. For example, ensure that adequate documentation and online support systems exist before eliminating telephone support for products and services. Ensuring customer satisfaction involves validating that new support mechanisms meet the needs of existing customers and future customers alike. Provide seminars, training, workshops and other forms of support on interpreting your company’s business policies before terminating a service that impacts a customer’s business.
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: Customer Service Representatives
- “Strategic Management and Business Policy”; Thomas L. Wheelen and David L. Hunger; 2007
Tara Duggan is a Project Management Professional (PMP) specializing in knowledge management and instructional design. For over 25 years she has developed quality training materials for a variety of products and services supporting such companies as Digital Equipment Corporation, Compaq and HP. Her freelance work is published on various websites.