How Documented Procedures Can Make Your Customer Support More Effective


This is a guest post by Owen Enaohwo of Sweet Process.

Are you looking to develop trust with your support team? Without this trust, they will not be able to perform at their highest level. By creating documented procedures for them, you can build this trust and achieve consistent results.

Even if your team members have previous experience in customer support, letting them improvise their day-to-day work can be dangerous.

Consider the case of former Engadget editor-in-chief Ryan Block who called customer retentions to cancel his contract with Comcast. After repeatedly asking the retentions specialist whether or not he could cancel his service over the phone, the agent keeps refusing to give a proper answer.

If the agent had documented procedures to follow, this simply would not have happened. Whether the retentions specialist was confused about what to do, or if they were deliberately trying to be difficult, if they had a process to follow, they would have been able to walk Block through the cancellation process step-by-step without sabotaging their reputation in the process.

Are your team members clear on the company vision? If not, documented procedures can bring a lot of clarity to their work, what’s expected of them, and can also give them guidelines by which they act.

What are documented procedures?

Documented procedures (simply put) are documents that everyone in your company has access to. They lay out all the steps for particular tasks that need to be undertaken and repeated consistently.

Too many restrictions and rules can actually paralyze support from providing excellent service. Your documented procedures can provide team members with the training and trust they need to do their job well.

A general best practice is to create job-specific checklists and procedure lists. That way, your team members can easily access the information that’s most pertinent to them without having to wade through job descriptions and task lists that aren’t relevant to them.

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Having documented procedures will cut down on unnecessary repeat questions for business owners. It will make the work of your team members more predictable, repeatable and consistent.

With customer support, it’s important to handle customer enquiries on a case-by-case basis. You can either write procedures that allow for personalized experiences or provide general guidelines for your support team to observe instead of strict procedures that must be followed to the letter.

How do documented procedures help your customer support team be more productive?

Give your team members ownership over their roles

If your customer support representatives don’t know how to act in certain situations, they could end up doing things that make your customers frustrated or angry.

Paula Baake, founder of Dancing Mind, found it necessary to create a strong company vision to instill a sense of ownership in her team members.

“When I delegate something to them, they understand where we’re going – they understand the vision. So now they’re free to attack that as if it was theirs as well. So they feel like they have more ownership in the business. And that’s really awesome because it increase productivity, and it creates better results.”

On the other hand, a heavy-handed, overly contrived approach can also be detrimental to the customer support process. There is a meaningful middle ground, and it is called trust. You need to empower your team to be able to deal with customers on a personal, human level.

Documented procedures can provide your team members with a framework from which they can tailor their approach, be more personable and on-point with the customer. Your team will know if, and when to up-sell other products or services better suited to the customer. Lena Requist, COO of

Lena Requist, COO of Ontraport found this framework vital for growth.

“I don’t think we would’ve been able to handle the volume of work, or be able to grow as quickly in terms of being able to service as many customers, or take them on as quickly if we didn’t have systems and processes in place.”

If you’re balking at the thought of having to create procedures and policies, remember that the growth of your business can be stifled by a lack of systems and processes.

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It’s also important to not over-document what should be a judgment call. The liberal use of policies and guidelines – rather than step-by-step procedures – can actually be beneficial for support roles.

Stephanie Spaan, CEO of Excel Achievement Center says she has handbooks with policies and procedures for both her part-time and full-time employees so they know exactly when they get paid, who to talk to if they have a question, and more.

How do I store my documented procedures?

Every company has different systems for creating and sharing documents. Many use Dropbox or Google Drive. Others create internal wikis on WordPress sites, and some even have hard copies of manuals or handbooks.

Here are the main things to keep in mind when you’re looking at what platform to use to store and share your documented procedures:

  • Procedures need to be organized. Create a basic structure for your procedures and stay consistent across the board. Store them in appropriate departmental folders, or create distinct chapter headings. Make it easy for team members to be able to access the information they need on the fly.
  • Procedures need to be accessible. If Dropbox is already installed on everyone’s machine, then it might be a logical choice. If you’re already using Google Drive as a company, then keep things simple by creating your procedures in Drive. Another great option is SweetProcess, a tool that allows you to easily create check lists and share them with your team.
  • Procedures need to be editable. Procedures may need to be updated, simplified, or eliminated from time to time. Procedures are often created by the business owner, operations officer or department manager, but you should give experienced team members the ability to modify and improve on them too.

Are you ready to start improving your customer support?

Again, the key here is to empower your team to be able to deal with customers on a personal, human level.

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Tim Hoopman, managing director at Cornerstone Group says, “I’ve got happier employees that lead to a calmer environment, which leads to happier customers. Implementing processes and systems help saves time, effort, and that’s a great result for everybody.”

How can you support your customer support staff in their efforts to provide excellent service? Give them access to the right resources. Documented procedures and policies can enable them to be consistent in their work without being robotic and unsympathetic.

Are you ready to start documenting procedures for your customer support staff? Don’t forget to develop trust with them. Give them the tools they need to succeed.

owen-mcgab-enaohwoAbout the author

Owen McGab Enaohwo is CEO and co-founder of Sweet Process. Sweet Process is an app that enables you to quickly and easily document how you get repetitive tasks done so that your employees know exactly what to do.

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