If you run a business or work in a client-facing role, this one question probably keeps you up at night: how to keep customers happy?
Traditionally, companies have followed a few golden rules to keep customers happy—listen to them proactively, value their viewpoint and deliver personalised service.
But in a vastly new and fast-changing market, the rules have changed. Consistency and efficiency is the name of the game today, with customer service teams being pushed to think on their feet in different circumstances.
So, how can you use customer support to your advantage, win your clients' trust and gain a competitive edge with flawless servicing? With customer service SOPs. In this quick guide, dive deeper into the many benefits of customer service SOPs and learn how to design one for your team.
What are customer service SOPs?
Customer service SOPs are instructions detailing a stepwise process for performing different tasks in managing client relationships, such as resolving conflicts, answering inquiries, registering complaints or delivering assistance. These SOPs act as a quick playbook for customer service representatives (CSRs) to handle and resolve client issues effectively.
For example, you can create an SOP outlining the steps to use your customer service tech stack, like this one (built using Scribe — more on that later):
6 Key benefits of making customer service SOPs
Creating SOPs is tiring work. You need to look at all your workflows, roles and tools to develop actionable SOPs your team would actually use. This can quickly turn into a lengthy and painstaking process.
But you can reap the rewards of documenting customer service SOPs for a long, long time. Here’s how:
- Build scalability: SOPs can turn your customer service team into a well-oiled machine, handling requests and problems like clockwork. They also reduce the time required to train new hires and optimise their work to maximum productivity. This means you can scale your CS setup to a higher level, overwhelming your staff or sacrificing the quality of service.
- Minimise mistakes: Customer service SOPs create a uniform language of communication for all your CSRs. Since every executive follows the same steps to complete an action, there’s little to no room for misunderstandings. It effectively reduces the likelihood of mistakes from your team and promises a frictionless customer experience.
- Enhance consistency: SOPs essentially bring your entire team on the same page. As a result, your CSRs can coordinate better on various tasks and deliver a more consistent experience to all customers. Well-designed SOPs can transform your team into a high-performing unit producing strong results consistently.
- Reduce knowledge loss: Documenting critical information about your customer service processes and tools in SOPs prevents knowledge loss when an employee leaves. SOPs act as memory refreshers for your CSRs and minimise disruptions when a staff member leaves.
- Speed up response time: By training your team to perform an action as easily and efficiently as possible, SOPs can also help improve your overall response time for customers. When your CSRs are more aware of the process, they’ll take less time figuring out the next steps and respond to customers quickly.
- Increase employee autonomy: SOPs are clear guidelines for your CS reps to fulfil their responsibilities. This clarity gives employees the confidence to make certain decisions independently without waiting for approval from supervisors. This decision-making autonomy would naturally reduce the pressure on managers and offer employees higher job satisfaction.
Put simply, customer service SOPs can unlock the door to endless possibilities for your client-facing teams to work more effectively.
Customer support SOP breakdown: what goes into an SOP?
You’re ready to create customer service SOPs and add some method to the madness for your team. But the million-dollar question is: how to write an SOP?
Knowing what goes into an SOP is the first step to creating a library of value-packed SOPs. Let’s list all the essential elements to include in your customer support SOP template:
The first page or section of your SOP will cover specific details like:
- What is the SOP for?
- Who created this SOP?
- A table of contents section.
- An identification or serial number.
- Date of publication or last update.
- The team head’s name and signature.
- Who’s responsible for performing this process?
The title page simplifies version management and clarifies the roles involved in that process.
The purpose of your SOP is precisely what it sounds like—it defines the goals the SOP aims to achieve. This purpose can cover various functions of your customer service team, including but not limited to:
- Escalation: to request assistance from a higher designation or another department.
- Query resolution: to resolve customer queries and tickets related to different issues.
- Sales support: to coordinate with the sales team to answer questions, provide quotes or process orders.
- Client onboarding: to onboard new customers and acquaint them with your product/service workflows.
- Complaint handling: to handle customer complaints by identifying the problem’s root cause and offering a meaningful solution.
Clarifying every SOP's purpose makes it easy for your employees to store and find relevant information quickly.
Scope of the SOP
Following the title page and purpose, you need to chalk out the SOP’s scope and methodology. The scope of an SOP ideally answers essential questions like:
- Who is the SOP for?
- What’s the SOP’s area(s) of application?
- What are the limitations to applying this SOP, if any?
Defining these details will help you narrow down every SOP's scope. As a best practice, you should write down the scope of an SOP before everything else to ensure you don't get derailed in writing the SOP draft.
Instructions & procedures
The main part of an SOP consists of the instructions for completing a task or performing an action. This should cut straight to the chase and include actionable information instead of explanatory content.
Break down your process into small steps and convert each step into action. Add tips, hacks or checklists to ensure each step guides readers to complete the task efficiently. Create flowcharts with different scenarios if employees will see varied results after a specific step.
As an optional step, you can add a glossary page at the end of your SOP to clarify any terminology or jargon readers might need help with.
How to design your customer service SOPs
Here are five steps to making your own customer service SOPs effortlessly:
Establish your goals for designing an SOP
First things first, identify why you’re creating an SOP. List the goals you want to achieve through each SOP. Your goal can be to:
- Increase team efficiency.
- Reduce the scope of errors.
- Improve the time to query resolution.
- Standardise specific processes for consistent output.
Remember that this is starkly different from an SOP's purpose. While the purpose tells employees what they'll achieve by following the SOP, the goals help measure every SOP's impact.
Identify the end-users for each document
The most effective SOPs speak to a specific audience. Identify the end-users for every SOP to ensure your SOPs can produce solid results. This will help you tailor the document's language, steps and other details to the specific employees. You can also make it more engaging by including relevant anecdotes or references.
For example, an SOP for CSRs handling tickets can cover some standout examples of customer tickets that caused a considerable challenge. Instead of making it a generic SOP on handling tickets, you can make the document more useful by adding these specific examples.
Map out the scope & collect information
Defining the scope of your SOP is one of the most crucial steps in the process. You want to know exactly what will go into the SOP, in what format and who will be involved in creating it.
Once you’ve outlined a clear scope, start collecting relevant information like:
- Existing documentation on the process.
- Guidelines for completing the process.
- Subject matter experts to consult.
- Roles involved in the task.
This research will prepare a solid foundation for your SOP. You can use this information to speed up the process of drafting and reviewing your SOPs without compromising on quality.
Use the right documentation tool to put it together
Here’s a hard pill to swallow: all your hard work on creating customer service SOPs would go to waste if nobody reads them. Ouch.
Is there a surefire way to ensure a maximum number of people read and use your SOPs? With Scribe, there is.
Scribe allows you to create, iterate and share SOPs in a few seconds. By making it incredibly easy to share an SOP with a simple URL, the tool lets your CSRs quickly access a document any time in the day (or night).
Plus, you can win back all the time you spend struggling to write the step-by-step instructions for every SOP. All you need to do is toggle the Scribe browser extension, perform a task and complete the recording. Scribe will auto-generate an interactive and fully-customizable SOP for you. It comes with annotated screenshots, click marks, textual steps, videos and more.
Here’s an example:
Define workflows to test, approve & iterate SOPs
Creating SOPs isn't a one-and-done process. You need to constantly review your documents, collect feedback and make necessary improvements to increase their utility. So, create a strategy for reviewing and revising your SOPs regularly. Lay down the timelines and guidelines for an exhaustive review process to modify your SOPs.
Start building your customer service SOPs with Scribe
Customer service SOPs empower your CSRs to work as a cohesive unit with greater efficiency and effectiveness. These SOPs also ensure your customers receive a flawless brand experience without any inconsistencies in service, irrespective of who they talk to.
While documenting SOPs can seem like too much work, tools like Scribe make it a matter of seconds. Try Scribe to create detailed SOPs in a few seconds and make your customer service setup failproof.