Creating a customer service system

Whatever your business, you will have a greater chance of acquiring more customers and providing them with better service if you have a system. A system is a series of steps and processes that are used to deliver products and services to customers; it can be manual or automated or a combination of both but a good system will have the following benefits:

  • The customer will get reliable and consistent service every time
  • Staff will be able to learn easier and follow the program
  • There will be greater operational efficiency, allowing for more customers and greater profit
  • Less dependency on one or two key people to know everything
  • The business can scale more easily and this will be reflected in its value

Creating service processes

Consider having documented procedures for every function and process in the business; such as for example: 

Greeting and welcoming customers in person or over the phone – what to say and how to say it.

Handling queries in person or by telephone – e.g. what to say when something is out of stock or not stocked at all, what to say when you don’t know the answer. How to always leave the customer with the next step they can take, even if you are unable to help them further.

Template emails for responding to enquiries – using appropriate tone and ensuring consistency.

Turnaround times for responding to queries and delivering products and services – Determine what these need to be and how to communicate them.

Systems for taking payments and giving receipts and acknowledgements

Process for follow up when customers have not responded to a communication

A process for dealing with complaints

A refund policy

A process for up-selling and cross-selling other products to the customer – when and how does this happen, what do staff need to say etc.

Managing customer expectations – Have a process for dealing with late orders, waiting times etc. Customers will be more likely to be forgiving if they are told what to expect and by when.

For face to face customer dealings, consider dress and presentation standards – these may be tailored depending on the industry, but take care to ensure some quality and consistency in how your brand is being represented.

A targeted training program for all staff – whether you are a small or large business, make sure there is time devoted to learning about and improving customer service efforts on a regular basis; build this into your business operating rhythm.

Set up some targets around the processes you implement and measure business performance against these. Measuring times, customer interactions, new sales, complaints and many other things is relatively straightforward when they are well documented.

Allow staff to have input into creating the system, giving them a stake in its ongoing success.

Ultimately every business has a culture and a, “way we do things around here” so it is in your best interests to have a proactive, structured way of interacting with your customers and making sure that great customer service is a deliberate process rather than an accidental one which can quickly fall down under pressure.