Consistency serves as the cornerstone of successful customer service. Don’t take my word for it, though. Just ask Forbes, McKinsey or Accenture. Or Starbucks or McDonald’s, both of which built massive, loyal fan bases upon a consistent customer experience. And this idea becomes most important when dissatisfied or confused customers contact your support department.
It’s impossible to build consistency without process, however. A process is essential, after all, in guiding every customer service rep to resolve every case successfully and in a unified way.
But how can you structure that process to ensure that everyone follows it? It’s easy to map a process on paper and verbally agree to it, but much more challenging to ingrain it in your everyday work.
That’s where aligning your customer service process around best practices helps. Specifically, it’s useful to start with tips that business leaders should consider in every process. Take the 5 sales process best practices we recently covered, for example. Many of the suggestions here apply to the support world as well, such as:
- Defining the steps in your customer service process so you can see where cases are being held up.
- Building technology around your process to cement and reinforce it for your agents.
- Supporting your process with onboarding and coaching to ensure that reps don’t deviate from it.
Beyond these tips, which frankly apply to any process, we recommend keeping these 3 additional best practices in mind:
3 Customer Service Process Best Practices
1. Automate every support channel, so all of them flow to the same place.
Email, phone, web chat, social, customer portal, SMS, snail mail: The number of support channels has multiplied over the past 20 years, and customers expect a seamless support experience across devices. Research shows that companies with omnichannel service offerings retain 89% of their customers, on average, compared to 33% for companies without them.
But rolling out new service channels is easier said than done. Without proper integration into your customer service process, different service channels can result in a disjointed customer experience. So it pays to automate every channel you offer to log every customer interaction in one unified service suite, like Salesforce’s Service Cloud. Then you can ensure that any customer can reach the same support rep and continue ongoing conversations no matter where they contact you from, all without manual effort.
2. Develop a clear escalation process.
One unique component of the customer service process is “escalation,” the transferring of difficult issues or unhappy customers to a higher support tier. Due to their challenging and/or tense nature, escalations are a delicate matter, and proper handling is critical for your support team.
So when defining a support process, your team must pay special consideration to escalation situations. It specifically helps to clarify when an escalation should occur, who cases should be escalated to in each circumstance and whether escalated cases should ever return to a lower support tier once more challenging topics are resolved.
3. Define what it means to “close” an issue.
Another aspect of the customer service process that differentiates it from others: It’s occasionally challenging to determine when a case is “resolved.” Every successful sale ends with a clear sign of agreement — ink on paper, verbal commitment, or a swiped credit card — but you can’t always get a customer to confirm that you’ve resolved their issue.
So your team must put additional thought into case closure requirements. What steps should a rep take to validate that their answers have satisfied the customer? What should happen if the customer goes dark after the rep answers their questions? Before then? Baking these answers into your process will help ensure that your reps are neither shutting out customers with additional questions nor spending unnecessary time chasing down unresponsive callers.
Interested in more process best practices? Check out our on-demand webinar on how to fuel high growth with efficiency to learn the tips that three leaders at fast-growing companies can offer about process efficiencies.