Amber works with graduate students enrolled in a virtual program and has a Master's of Social Work degree.
Standard Operating Procedures
A standard operating procedure is a documented guide for handling a company process or customer interaction. Companies attempt to document every form of customer interaction and the step-by-step instructions for how each interaction should be managed in an effort to create consistency, efficiency, and effectiveness.
Procedures Create Consistency
Consistency in customer interactions will reduce company expenses as each employee knows the best way to handle each situation. Consistency in interactions will also improve customer experiences as they receive efficient, effective, and consistent service during every interaction with a company. Consistency will also improve employee satisfaction as employees are easily able to handle any customer situation, confident in their ability to find the right information and step by step procedures for any customer interaction.
Let's look at an example. Sarah needed to get a rental car for a few days while her vehicle was in the shop. Sarah was working with her insurance company to cover the cost of the car rental. She was informed by her insurance agent that a small deposit would be her responsibility when she picked up the rental car.
She spoke with three customer representatives from the rental company to try to determine the amount of the deposit. Two employees told her the deposit cost was one hundred dollars. The third representative informed her the cost was only fifty dollars. Sarah was confused by the misinformation and frustrated that she could not get accurate information. She started to question whether she should use another company since her interactions with the company were just beginning and were not at all satisfying.
Standard Operating Procedure Manuals
Customer service employees will benefit from a standard operating procedure manual that outlines a how-to instruction guide including performance expectations and written procedures. Having written procedures organized and easily accessible will ensure consistency with the level of customer care delivered by each employee.
Customer service operating procedure manuals should address job functions and answer employee questions about customer situations they may encounter. Common questions operations procedure manuals cover include:
- Is it acceptable to put a customer on hold?
- How should customers be greeted?
- Is it okay to transfer a phone call?
- What is good customer service?
- What is the best way to handle customer complaints?
- What to do if a caller speaks a language that is different from the customer service representative?
- How to engage customers?
- How to display empathy?
Building Customer Service Skills
So, why is employee coaching and training necessary? Companies that invest in mentoring and efficiently training employees will produce excellent customer service. Customers will be rewarded with consistency in their interactions with customer care staff. Customer service employees will be knowledgeable, motivated, prepared, highly productive, and confident in their ability to care for their customers.
Customer service employees who receive training and guidance will also be better equipped to handle stressful customer situations. Basically, employees will develop stronger customer service relation skills when thorough training is available and re-enforced.
Customer Service Software
Customer service employees can save time and increase cost-effectiveness by using customer service software programs. Customer service software programs store customer contact information and notes from previous interactions and often include an easy-to-read decision tree for employees to navigate when handling customer complaints. Many companies have knowledge libraries that allow employees to search using a customer question or issue. Basically, employees are able to access step by step guidance for each interaction.
Let's revisit our earlier example. Sarah later spoke to a manager about her experience with inconsistent information. She asked the manager what was going to be done to make sure other customers did not encounter the same problem. The manager assured Sarah that the company was in the process of training employees on navigating an online operating procedure manual. Employees will be able to access information through customer software to avoid future misunderstandings about pricing.
A standard operating procedure is a documented guide for handling a company process or customer interaction. Companies attempt to document every form of customer interaction and the step by step instructions for how each interaction should be managed in an effort to create consistency, efficiency, and effectiveness. Most companies now have a standard operating procedure manual and customer service software programs to help guide every customer interaction. This creates a consistent experience for customers and helps employees to learn and feel confident in their ability to care for their customers.
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The Importance of a Standard Operating Procedure in Customer Service Quiz
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What will a customer service operating manual ensure?
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