Customers may not always know what they’re entitled to when they reach out to a company with a service issue, but they rarely settle for anything less than the best the organisation can offer. Call it the implied customer service charter behind every brand promise.
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 a certain threshold customers expect their suppliers to meet or even exceed in order to hang onto their business.
The best customer service charters go well beyond the initial training a team might receive before they’re sent off to assist with real-world problems. The charter represents the standard everyone is trying to meet, and becomes a big part of the business’s culture.
While customer service charters have been around for years, it’s probably safe to say that most of them were initially drafted when the primary ways for asking a question or making a complaint were restricted to a phone call to a contact centre or walking into a company’s store or office in person.
That’s changed, of course. Service is now omnichannel, and customers have access to a range of options with which to reach out — email, live chat, social media, etc — and they may use a blend of these different service channels.
Consequently, service teams have had to think more holistically about how they handle customer requests. You’ve likely invested in technology to successfully manage all the data necessary to optimise processes. But does your customer service charter reflect an omnichannel era?
We look at four of the most common components of a customer service charter and where omnichannel elements fit in:
1. A clearly defined overview
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.
Referencing the fact that you know the majority of service interactions come through via social, for example, will make customers feel like they’re dealing with an organisation that understands their preferred ways of engagement.
2. Managing customer issues
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 a purchase, does anything change?
Some of these questions might have been straightforward years ago. 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 reasonable they’re likely to be.
3. Outlining the team
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.
There are a growing number of customers who prefer managing 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.
4. Receiving feedback
Even with the best-written customer service charters, things won’t always run smoothly. If that’s the case, customers should not have to use a separate channel — or one they’d rather not use — to raise the matter to a higher-level contact.
Look at how text, social media, email and other mechanisms can be used to quickly get in touch with the appropriate party, or even just to convey constructive criticism or suggestions for improvement.
5. Review your charter
Once you’ve finalised your charter and made it public, revisit it periodically as part of your review process. 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 customer satisfaction metrics reach heights you never thought possible.
Customer expectations have hit new levels. Learn more trends from our latest State of Service report.