Standard operating procedures or SOPs play a major role in promoting uniformity across an organization, and help everyone, including the ones with hardly any experience, to follow guidelines that help in reaching company goals. They provide employees with valuable knowledge on how to carry out diverse activities and procedures.
At a customer service center, SOPs tend to be used to define multiple aspects, right from handling workloads and staffing schedules to call load forecasting and specifying the ways calls should be reviewed, monitored, and scored. Customer service SOP plays a crucial role in ensuring proper Knowledge Management [KM] at company, by keeping available knowledge organized in a manner that it can be easily accessed by all the needed parties.
Customer service centers’ roosters may change, and their employees may go on leave, quit, or retire. Any knowledge they have about how to carry out specific tasks would go with them. By using systematic KM through SOPs, new hires can seamlessly pick right up from where previous employees left, without missing a single step in the overall functioning or performance of things.
Types of customer service SOPs
This SOP should provide a clear outline of major administrative policies of the company, in regards to shift coverage, flex time, paid time off, attendance, punctuality, and various other administrative issues. There can be hundreds of employees and dozens of managers or supervisors at a customer service center, thereby making it crucial to have a proper KM system in place.
Without systematic knowledge management through an SOP manual that underlines how various situations should be handled, a lot of confusion might arise in its daily workings. To work seamlessly, all its employees and managerial staff must know exactly what step to take when dealing with varying situations.
Important metrics are used at a customer service center to define performance standards and potential by determining average time callers spend on hold, number of calls answered and resulted in a resolution or sale, as well as how many calls were abandoned by the callers due to a long waiting time. This SOP manual should properly specify expectations that managers have from customer service agents in regards to call handling and call resolution. This would give them a better knowledge of how to competently perform their job.
Training and Coaching
SOP manual must have important training and coaching related information, so as to keep the knowledge provided in such sessions fresh in minds of agents. It can even act as a supporting training manual. Using SOPs as a KM service tool hence reduces first-level inquiries as they are already present in the manual. Agents can easily look up to them, as per their requirements.
Impact of SOPs on achieving KPIs
Well-defined customer service SOPs that facilitate proper knowledge base can significantly help in boosting performance of the agents. SOP manuals act as a knowledge base that provides support to the customer service representatives and aids them to swiftly answer questions and quickly resolve cases. It helps ensure that the customer service agents have right knowledge, at right time, and right place.
The major KPIs it has an impact on includes:
- Average Response Time: With all knowledge available in front of them, agents can swiftly respond to the customers and do not have to keep them on hold while searching for answers.
- First Call Resolution: KM systems help agents to provide customers with all the insights and details they might need to resolve an issue so that they do not have to call back for it.
- Customer Churn: Prompt and effective response with the help of SOPs helps ensure customer satisfaction and encourages them to keep doing business with host company.
- Number of Issues: Leveraging the knowledge provided by SOPs, customer service agents would be able to swiftly resolve a record number of issues within a limited time frame.
Penalties / negative impact of fatal errors due to non-compliance of SOPs
Biggest advantage of having a customer service SOPs is that it creates a well-defined plan and knowledge bank for the agents to follow, reducing their chances of committing mistakes. Thereby, non-compliance with SOP can eventually result in the agents making severe errors. They might take too much time to answer the customers or even provide them with a wrong answer, thereby resulting in losing their trust.
Non-compliance with SOPs can also lead to a lot of confusion, increasing the chances of miscommunication, and leading to the deterioration of performance by agents.
Tools that enable SOP adherence
SOPs need to be organized and stored conveniently so that all customer service representatives can easily access their knowledge, and use it to deliver favorable results and ensure absolute adherence. There is certain standard operating procedure software available that can be used to capture and store the workflow of a customer service center and become their go-to resource for all SOPs.
Some of the common SOP tools available today are:
- Tallyfy: Helps to carry out employee on-boarding, compliance checks, and streamlining workflow for better service delivery.
- EtQ: Is ideal for breaking down complex customer service processes, helps in the creation, storage, and distribution of controlled documents.
- Way We Do: Allows customer service centers to transform their policies and procedures into active workflows.
- SOP Express: Enables visualizing work instructions for easy understanding and implementation of SOPs.
Role of knowledge management in SOP adherence
Knowledge management has a major role to play in ensuring proper SOP adherence at a customer service center. KM implies a continuous process of creating, sharing, using, and managing knowledge to ensure that right information is available through right channels at right time. This directly aligns with the purpose of SOPs, which are meant to provide customer service agents with information they need to ensure compliance and enhance their productivity level. Moreover, with a proper knowledge bank in place, new customer support reps can be on-boarded and trained faster.