Customer Service Policies and Procedures Best Practices

I’ve been putting off approaching customer service policies and procedures, and I am sure you can understand why. These are one of the bigger sources of contention for most people when it comes to hating dealing with customer service, and it’s one of the bigger obstacles for first call resolutions, or hell, any resolutions for that matter.

This is because too often, these customer service policies and procedures are regimented by people who don’t actually know customer service that well, and as a result, their policies while defending a company from fraud and exploitation, work against the goals of customer service and support quite avidly, without meaning to.

This is a case of the left hand and right hand not knowing what they are doing. Today, I’m going to yank the band aid off quickly, and try to address this for both sides of the fence as best I can. For those writing policies and aren’t customer service people, here’s how to design your policies a little more conducive to their goals. For customer service people – have a hand in addressing policies and procedures, and understand these being issues those have to cover from the policy writer’s perspectives.

Everyone ready? Well, I’m not but here we go anyway!

#1 – Refund and Reimbursement Policies

This is going to be a big chunk of the policies aspect, so buckle up. Understand that policy writers have to set cut off limits for how long an issue can exist and a refund or reimbursement be eligible for it. Otherwise, people will exploit this so that a product or service issue being just a natural thing to get free rides as it were.

However, policy writers need to understand that maybe they need to give more time to customer service to permit this, given that sometimes a user will procrastinate on an issue for a while in hopes they don’t have to deal with customer service, before they break down in doing so. This is one of the biggest issues.

#2 – Conduct Policies and Procedures

Conduct is a source of contention. Policy writers will usually demand a certain demeanor be in place that negates the empathy, idle chat and relationship building that customer service needs to deal with angry or distraught customers, so that they can achieve a quick and effective resolution.

At the same time, customer service does have to understand that procedures and codes of conduct do have to be regimented, whatever they may be. As a result, I recommend that policy writers actually sit in with customer service that is permitted to behave as it ideally should, so that they can observe actual procedures for interaction that do work properly, so they may write policies and procedures that condone good CS practices. Currently, their demands in most companies do not.

#3 – Incentives for Feedback

We’ve talked about incentives for feedback and incentives for accepting resolutions being a good way to win customers over when they’re upset, and for encouraging feedback in surveys or over the internet in social environments etc. However, incentives are costly, and can be a slippery slope to being too giving and assenting on behalf of a company. As a result, policy and procedure writers often put strict regulations in effect that all but ban incentivizing customers this way.

How do you remedy this issue with customer service policies and procedures? That one’s the one I am not entirely sure about. What I would suggest is a powwow with both sides, where what works for incentives is discussed at large, and then policy writers alongside the financial department just compromise and lock in the most viable and least damaging ones to provide, and then to set in stone some very strict procedures of when and how to provide them so that it doesn’t get out of hand.

Stefanie Amini
is Specialist in Customer Success and chief writer and editor of I Want It Now, a blog for Customer Service Experts. Follow her @StefWalkMe