Standard Operating Procedures: Nearly Everything You Need to Know + Templates

Learn everything about standard operating procedures, right from understanding what they are, why you need them, how to create them, challenges, popular formats, and templates.

Updated On: June 10, 2024

Instructions exist all around us. No matter what you buy, every product always comes with a set of instructions. Even clothes come with a label that explains how to wash and iron the cloth. In organizations, instructions are stated in employee handbooks, training manuals, user guides, etc. These documents are known as Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs). 

SOPs are instructions that ensure a user does a task correctly for the best results. In customer service, standard operating procedures guide agents with the right course of action to solve customer problems – in compliance with regulation standards of the organization. 

But here’s something you should know, if you’re the one writing these instructions/SOPs – they need to be easy to understand and engaging. Otherwise, your users will not read them! 

So, this guide will walk you through each step of the process, helping you tackle the three main challenges of SOP creation. Plus, you’ll get four ready-to-use templates to make your SOPs truly interactive. Let’s get started! 

What are Standard Operating Procedures?

Standard Operating Procedures or SOPs are step-by-step instructions that help users carry out tasks in a certain order, following the established guidelines. 

For example, a baker might struggle to bake a tasty marble cake without a recipe. For this baker, an SOP can be the recipe that tells him which ingredients he needs, how much he needs, and what he needs to do with them.  

Similarly, a bank employee can make mistakes in conducting customer verification without any guidance.  For this employee an SOP can be a manual that tells him how to correctly verify customer information – which identity documents he needs, how he needs to verify them, and what he needs to do after verifying them. 


Learn how a leading digital bank – Jupiter improved its CX with organized and reliable SOPs 

6 Benefits of Standard Operating Procedures

#1 Consistent Customer Service

Customers get frustrated when they receive an inconsistent quality of support. Your experienced agents might provide excellent support, whereas your new hires might frustrate customers and cause you to lose customers. 

By giving the same instructions to all customer service agents, standard operating procedures ensure that every customer receives great customer service regardless of which agent they interact with. 

#2 Improved Agent Productivity

When catering to complex customer queries, agents waste a lot of time looking for the answers themselves or asking their peers. This often leads to delays and inconsistencies, which further frustrates the customers. This also limits the amount of queries an agent can solve in a day. 

Standard operating procedures remove the guesswork for agents and enable them to quickly resolve customer queries. This allows agents to solve more customer queries in less time, which improves their overall productivity. 

15% reduction in AHT for a leading online Food Delivery app through Knowmax

#3 Reduced Agent Error

Agents often need to use strategies like trial and error in the absence of clear instructions. This can often lead to agents committing fatal errors 

Standard operating procedures reduce the chances of mistakes since they provide clear instructions to customer support agents.  

#4 Shorter Time to Proficiency

In the absence of organized and reliable SOPs, new hires can struggle to provide adequate customer support. They either depend on their experienced colleagues or spend a lot of time searching for answers. This leads to unhappy customers and unnecessary escalations.  

Standard operating procedures help new agents become more productive quickly by giving them well-documented procedures to follow. This saves them from having to rely solely on shadowing or the availability of more experienced colleagues. 

20% improvement in call resolution delivery of a leading Fintech startup

#5 Enhanced Customer Satisfaction

Customer experience is a key competitive advantage for organizations. Customers now expect fast and seamless customer support. And if they do not receive that, they are quick to switch to competitors that provide better customer service.  

Standard operating procedures ensure that all customer issues are handled thoroughly and with the necessary attention to detail, leading to fewer complaints and higher customer retention. 

#6 Better Compliance with Regulations

Failing to adhere to required regulations and standards can lead to legal challenges, fines, and a damaged reputation.  

Standard operating procedures state instructions which ensure compliance with the industry regulations and internal standards. 

7 Steps to Create Standard Operating Procedures

#1 Define Your Goal

Ask yourself why you are creating standard operating procedures and what results do you want from it.  

For example, your goal can be: 

  • To streamline the process of monthly financial reporting in an accounting department, reducing errors and saving time. 
  • To guarantee that all manufactured products meet consistent quality standards through detailed production and inspection steps. 
  •  To provide a uniform procedure for handling customer complaints, ensuring each complaint is addressed promptly and effectively. 
  •  To ensure that data protection and privacy procedures comply with general data protection regulations. 

#2 Collaborate with Stakeholders

Next, you need inputs from other stakeholders, like: 

  • C-Level Executives: They set organizational goals and can assist in strategizing SOPs to meet long term goals.  
  • Team Managers: They facilitate SOP implementation and can help in creating feasible plans. 
  • Ground-Level Employees (agents): They are the direct users of SOPs who interact with customers. They can give you useful feedback on the effectiveness of your SOP. 

#3 Identify the End-User

Clearly understand who will be using your standard operating procedures. This will help you choose the right format and lingo to make your SOP easy to understand. 

#4 Choose Your SOP Format

Decide what format would be best for your SOP. The format should make the procedure easy to understand and follow. 

For example: 

  • If you are creating an SOP for packaging and delivery teams, then a visual guide is the best option.  As delivery agents are always on-the-go and don’t have time to read a lot of text. 
  • If you are creating an SOP for solving customer queries at a bank, then a next-best-action workflow is the best fit. As it ensures that agents verify customer details and solve queries following strict privacy guidelines. 

#5 Gather Information

Collect all the necessary information needed to create the standard operating procedures. This involves researching best practices, existing policies, and the specific tasks that the SOP should cover. 

#6 Create the SOP

Write your standard operating procedure, incorporating all the information gathered. Ensure it is clear, concise, and includes all necessary steps.  Let the stakeholders read through your first draft and provide their feedback. Incorporate their feedback and once they approve, publish it! 

#7 Implement the SOP

Roll out the SOP to all relevant users. Provide training if necessary to ensure everyone understands how to follow the standard operating procedure. Then monitor the implementation and be open to feedback to continually improve the SOP. 

3 Barriers to Creating Standard Operating Procedures

#1 Making SOPs Simple

SOPs should have all the necessary details and yet they should be easy to understand. Striking a balance between precision and simplicity requires careful consideration and multiple rounds of editing based on feedback. 

#2 Keeping SOPs Up to Date

SOPs can quickly become outdated as business processes and technologies evolve. Regularly reviewing and updating SOPs ensure they remain relevant and effective. 

#3 Ensuring SOPs Are Accessible

Your end-users should be able to access the right version of your SOP easily. If they get lost in a maze of multiple versions or simply are not able to access it, chances are they’ll go back to previous methods. Avoid this by using a knowledge management system which keeps your SOPs organized, updated, and accessible.  

4 Templates for Creating Standard Operating Procedures

1. SOP Template for Articles



Standard Operating Procedure to Maintain Professionalism in Call Center



[Explain why this procedure is important and what it aims to achieve.] 

This procedure is designed to maintain a professional and efficient environment at the customer support center. Adhering to these guidelines ensures that all customer interactions are handled securely and effectively, minimizing distractions and maximizing productivity. 



[Define who should use this SOP and when] 

This SOP is applicable to all customer service agents working in the call center. It must be followed during all operating hours. 



[List which roles are responsible for executing parts of this procedure] 

  • Customer Support Agents: Must comply with all guidelines regarding personal conduct in the call center. 
  • Team Leaders: Responsible for ensuring compliance with the SOP and handling any exceptions 
  • HR Department: To update the SOP and conduct periodic reviews to ensure compliance. 



#1 Introduction 

[Briefly describe the background and the overall process] 

This document outlines the conduct expected of all customer support agents while in the call center. It includes guidelines on permissible items, arrival times, and the structure of a typical workday. 


#2 Body

[Describe the guidelines or processes in detail] 

Subsection 1: Personal Items in the Workspace 

  • Personal mobile phones must be stored in lockers before entering the call center. They must not be carried on the floor or used during working hours. 
  • No food is allowed at the workstations. Beverages are limited to water in a clear, closed container. 

Subsection 2: Workday Structure 

  • Agents are expected to arrive at least 15 minutes before their shift begins to allow time for logging into systems and preparing their workspace. 
  • Upon arrival, review any updates to customer support scripts or procedure changes posted overnight. 
  • Before ending their shift, agents must ensure they log out from all systems, leave their workstation clean, and check out with their team leader. 


#3 Conclusion

[Summarize the key points and reiterate the importance of following the procedure correctly] 

Following these guidelines is crucial for maintaining the security and efficiency of our operations. Please reach out to your team leaders if there is any confusion. 



[Include any external documents, guidelines, or resources that are relevant] 

  • Employee Handbook 
  • Data Protection Policy


Revision History

 [Document the creation date and track any changes made to the SOP] 

  • Created: May 24, 2024 
  • Revised: June 15, 2024 – Minor changes to the workday structure. 


2. SOP Template for FAQs


Updating Customer Records FAQ



[Briefly explain the purpose of these FAQs and who they are intended for] 

This FAQ document is designed to help our customer service and data management teams understand the standard procedures for updating customer records. It addresses common questions and provides straightforward solutions to ensure consistency and accuracy in our customer data handling. 



Question 1: How do I access a customer’s record for updating customer information?
Answer: Access to customer records can be obtained through our internal CRM system. Use your employee login credentials to sign in, navigate to the ‘Customer Search’ tab, and enter the customer’s ID or name to retrieve their record. 

Question 2: What steps should I follow to correct a customer’s address in their profile?
Answer: Once you’ve accessed the customer’s profile, click on the ‘Edit’ button next to the address field. Enter the correct address and ensure all details are accurate. Click ‘Save’ to update the record. Always verify the new address against an official address verification tool before saving. 


Additional Resources: 

[List any links or documents where more detailed information can be found] 

  •  Internal CRM System Guide 
  • Data Management Policy Document 


Contact Information: 

[Provide details for further support if questions are not adequately answered by the FAQ] 

 For further assistance, please reach out to your department supervisor or the customer service management team at or ext. 2345. 


3. SOP Template for Step-by-Step Picture Guides



Packaging Process Picture Guide



[State what users will be able to achieve by following this guide] 

This guide will enable team members to package food items efficiently and safely, ensuring they are ready for delivery or pickup by customers. 


Required Materials/Tools:

[List all necessary materials or tools needed to complete the task] 

  • Food containers 
  • Sealing tape 
  • Label stickers 
  • Gloves 
  • Hairnet 



[Describe the actions sequentially with corresponding pictures] 

Step 1: Prepare Packaging Area 

  • Clean and sanitize the packaging table. 
  • Ensure all materials are within reach. 

Image: [Insert image of a clean and organized packaging station] 


Step 2: Place the Food in the Container 

Wearing gloves, carefully place the prepared food into the appropriate container. 

Image: [Insert image of food being placed into a container] 


Step 3: Seal the Container  

Secure the lid on the container. Ensure it fits snugly to prevent any leaks. 

Image: [Insert image of a container being sealed] 


Step 4: Label the Package  

Attach a label to the container, making sure it includes the order number, customer name, and any special instructions. 

Image: [Insert image of a package being labeled] 


Tips and Warnings: 

[Provide additional tips for success and warnings for common mistakes] 

Tips: Always double-check the order details before sealing the package. 

Warnings: Avoid cross-contamination by changing gloves between packaging different food types. 



[Sum up what has been accomplished and any final points to remember] 

By following these steps, you have ensured that our food items are packaged properly, maintaining their quality and readiness for safe transportation. Please check the latest updates to packaging guidelines regularly. 


4. SOP Template for Next Best Action Workflows


Customer Verification – KYC Next Best Action Workflow



[Define the objective of this workflow and the decision points it addresses] 

This workflow is designed to streamline the KYC process by guiding bank representatives through a series of decision points to verify a customer’s identity and account details efficiently. The objective is to ensure compliance with regulatory requirements and minimize errors in customer verification.  



[Clarify where and when this workflow applies] 

This procedure applies to all frontline bank representatives handling new and existing customer verifications within physical branches and online platforms. It is applicable during regular banking hours. 


Workflow Steps: 

[Write the steps and the 2-3 decision points applicable for each] 

Step 1: Verify Customer Identity 

{Condition 1} 

If customer presents a government-issued ID: 

Take Action: Validate the ID against official records using the bank’s verification system. 


{Condition 2} 

If customer does not have a government-issued ID: 

Take Action: Ask for alternative identification documents (e.g., passport, birth certificate). 


Step 2: Confirm Account Details 

{Condition 1} 

If account details match the ID: 

Proceed to Action: Confirm the verification and update the customer’s profile. 


{Condition 2} 

If account details do not match the ID: 

Return to Step 1: Re-verify the customer’s identity. 


Step 3: Verify Source of Funds (for accounts involving large transactions) 

{Condition 1}  

If source of funds is documented and legitimate: 

Proceed to Action: Approve the transaction. 


{Condition 2} 

If source of funds is unclear or suspicious: 

Take Action: Flag the account and escalate to the compliance team. 


Decision Support Information: 

[Provide information or data that supports each decision point] 

  • Government-issued ID verification guidelines. 
  • Bank’s internal criteria for acceptable documents. 
  • Historical data on common discrepancies in customer accounts. 


Escalation Procedures:

[Detail what to do if the workflow cannot resolve the problem] 

If a customer’s documents are suspected of being fraudulent, immediately escalate to the fraud prevention department. 

If verification issues persist after two attempts, escalate to the branch manager for further instructions. 


Revision History:

[Note any updates or changes to the workflow] 

  • May 2024: Updated to include online verification steps. 
  • October 2024: Minor changes to the escalation procedures to streamline the process. 

Instantly Create SOPs with Knowmax’s AI Knowledge Management platform

Creating SOPs can be exhausting, so why not simplify SOPs with AI? 

Knowmax is an AI-powered knowledge management system designed to streamline your SOP workflows. Here are 6 ways Knowmax can simplify SOPs for you:

1. Instantly create SOPs

Leverage our AI author tools to automatically generate near-publish-ready drafts for different SOP formats like FAQs, next best action workflows, and articles – that you can easily edit.  

2. Easily organize and access information

Establish a single source of truth for all your organizational knowledge and SOPs – no more chasing people for important information! 

3. Quickly find SOPs

Use our AI search tool to instantly find any document or information from your knowledge base. 

4. Repurpose existing SOPs

Easily transform your lengthy SOP documents into engaging, interactive formats such as picture guides, decision trees, and FAQ.  

5. Edit, review and take feedback

Utilize our comprehensive platform to create, review, and refine your SOPs. Gather feedback and implement changes, all within a single integrated environment. 

6. Know how your SOPs are used

Get insights on top user searches, top performing content, failed searches, and much more. 


So, ditch the frustration and supercharge your SOP creation with Knowmax! 

Leveraging existing organizational knowledge to power AI for CX success

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