Customer service charters have been around for years, so it’s probably safe to say most of them were drafted well before the COVID-19 pandemic and when service agents were operating out of contact centres.
That’s changed, of course, and you’ve likely invested in technology to support your service agents as they work from home to optimise processes. But does your customer service charter reflect the current business climate?
During this time customers don’t want to assume what they’re entitled to when they reach out to a company with a service issue, but they do expect the best the organisation can offer. Call it the implied customer service charter behind every brand promise.
The customer service charter represents the standard everyone is trying to meet and becomes a big part of the business's culture.
A real customer service charter spells out these areas clearly and comprehensively. For example, a customer service charter gets more specific than, “We’ll do our best to help you”. That’s the bare minimum in the customer’s mind. In fact, depending on the company and industry, there may be certain threshold customers expect their suppliers to meet or even exceed in order to hang onto their business.
We look at three of the most common components of a customer service charter that should be revised to reflect today’s customer challenges.
If a customer isn’t satisfied, how quickly should they expect to hear back from you if a customer service team member isn’t immediately available? If there’s a dispute, what are the policies for working out conflicts over costs, repairs and so on? If a service issue arises months or years after purchase, does anything change?
Some of these questions might have been straightforward before COVID-19. But, now, if there’s a difference in how quickly you’ll deal with a service request by phone vs text, for example, that needs to be mentioned. Same for outreach via social media or email. If a question can’t be answered after hours via a chatbot, when will a human being connect and how? The more customers know what a typical service experience entails, the more understanding they’re likely to be.
Much like the ‘About Us’ section on a website, a lot of customer service charters recap the company’s vision, values and overall mission. Everything that happens in a service experience should tie back to these pillars. For instance, if you’re an organisation that prides itself on being flexible, being able to deal with service issues regardless of how they’re reported reinforces your credibility.
Now is the time to show your customers you understand their preferred ways of engagement. For example, referencing the fact that you know the majority of service interactions come through via social media will show customers you’re there for them when they need it the most.
Who will customers be dealing with when they’re contacting a service channel? In some cases, businesses have developed deep expertise in their staff, or have ensured members of their team have achieved accreditation or certifications to handle unique kinds of challenges.
A good customer service charter highlights relevant training and how employees are accountable for the results of a service interaction. If it’s typical to escalate tougher challenges as the need arises, this may boost the customer’s overall confidence in buying from you.
During times of crisis, some customers want answers as quickly as possible and prefer to manage service issues on their own first. If you offer self-service capabilities through a portal or chatbot, your charter should articulate why it’s an important strategy and how the tools are available across various channels.
Self-service in action at the Service keynote at World Tour Sydney.
Once you’ve finalised your updated charter and made it public, revisit it as changes within your service operations occur over this time. Have new channels emerged that need to be considered? Have you incorporated new innovation into your service experience? Has the average time to respond or repair gotten any shorter? Make your customer service charter a living, breathing document, and watch your customers respond with positivity, even amidst these current challenges.
Stream the World Tour Sydney Service keynote to learn more about delivering great human-centric service in the digital age.