Customer Service Process: Build an Evergreen Support Workflow

Every growing support team needs a standardized customer service process. Without proper guidelines in place, your agents would be left in the dark, not knowing how to approach an issue – leading to duplication in effort and a delayed response time for customers. While using a ticketing system can help automate certain actions, it is unlikely to solve your team’s productivity unless your agents follow a documented customer service process as well. 

Customer service maturity assessment

What is a customer service process?

Customer service process is a standardized and repeatable approach to customer service.  It ensures that the flow of support does not get derailed with unwarranted and, at times, needlessly complicated procedures like going ‘back and forth’ between teams for solving a simple customer query. It gives your agents the conviction to go with a definitive set of support workflows and decision-making patterns to make your customer service coherent and failsafe.

While the customer service process flow is only visible to your customer service teams, the lack of it can easily be noticed by your customers. Customer-centricity needs to be the core idea behind the framework of the customer service process.

For instance, prioritizing a company policy over customer needs can be a huge dealbreaker. Here’s an example where American Airlines failed to truly pay attention to the negative sentiment of a tweet, ending up blindly following a templated response. This points to the lack of a concrete customer service process that encourages customer-facing teams to delve deep into the minds of the customers.

customer service process - American Airlines

What are the steps to building a customer service process flow?

#1 Create a customer journey map

The first step to building a customer service process is to create a seamless customer journey that maps to the process flow and mirrors it to provide benchmark customer service. Understanding the customer journey will help you debunk every stage of their life-cycle from a prospect to a paying customer. Small businesses particularly have to get their customer journey sorted, as they’re built on the premise that the flow of their support is much more streamlined and personalized than what a huge brand could offer.

customer service process - understanding customer journey
Stages of a customer journey

– Build a customer persona

Building a customer persona will help you identify selling opportunities, product and service expectations, and potential pain points that can be ironed out. Determine their demographics and put yourself in their shoes so that you can understand their preferences to align your customer service and products to their needs.

– Find out what customers want to solve for

Every buyer has a goal or a use-case, which brought them to your business. By identifying this, you should chart out the pricing, offer the right features, and build a support plan that will help them through a hassle-free journey through every stage, from awareness to research to final purchase. Surveys can be a great way to get a gist of your customers’ aspirations. Asking the right questions matters a lot in this stage:

  • What made you give our company a try?
  • What issues are you trying to solve?
  • Are you satisfied with the information on our website? Does it help you get full context about our business?
  • If you reached out to our customer service, how much would you rate us out of 10?
  • Is there anything you think that our customer service approach or website is missing?
  • What would be the deciding factor for you to buy our product? Do you think we have it covered?

Figuring out your customers’ answers to such questions will help you render a foolproof approach to fulfilling their expectations.

– Establish a plan for every touchpoint

While an e-commerce business may have social media as the preferred customer touchpoint for engagement, phone could be the go-to touchpoint for a travel agency. So, you need to establish a customer service flow after analyzing your personas and the volume of engagement in every channel.

#2 Know your existing customers in and out

Your existing customer base is the lifeline of your business, as retaining them has been historically more profitable than acquiring customers. They already have an established relationship with you, which needs to be continuously nurtured. So, knowing them personally would reassure them that they’re not being overlooked at the cost of new customers. 

The purchase history and prior support interactions of your customers can help you personalize a journey for them. These pieces of information can be added to customer personas to ensure that the support provided is coherent and proactive. The relationship can also be upsized by recommending tailored product or feature upgrades, as determined by your interactions with them. 

#3 Align your support agents to a customer-first service process

When your customer service process is customer-first, it allows your agents to get a perspective of your business from the customers’ side. Potential pain points can be identified before-hand, and potential for product and support improvements can also be evaluated.

– Empathize with customers

Empathy is the one trait that every support agent needs to foster. It goes a long way in connecting with customers emotionally and goes beyond the value they see in your products and services.

– Understand customer problems from the grassroots

To gain the trust of your customers, queries have to be analyzed to determine the root cause of every issue, to avoid them in the future. Here is where product knowledge is critical. The support agent has to know about your business in and out to resolve customer queries with expertise and conviction.

– Aligning customer service goals with KPIs

KPIs help support agents motivate themselves to excel in customer service work towards a common measurable goal of satisfying customers. Some of the metrics include measuring productivity and quality of support are ticket inflow, number of tickets resolved, active time taken to resolve a ticket, resolution time, first response time, net promoter score (NPS), and customer satisfaction (CSAT) score, to name a few.

#4 Design an escalation process for customer service

Escalations are support events that involve disgruntled customers, who demand a higher level of involvement to solve their issue when the original resolution was very unsatisfactory. Escalations need a dedicated customer service process, given that it goes on to become a high-touch situation. Escalation is a stage where the customer has been waiting in line for the right fix or response. So it has to be handled wisely with a sense of urgency.

customer service process - escalation management table
A standardized workflow for an escalation process

#5 Understand the nature of the ticket

Tickets can be classified into categories such as simple, technical, product-related, pricing and refund-related tickets to efficiently handle them based on the support team’s area of expertise and agent skills. For instance, if the customer wants has an issue with the working of a product feature, the support team needs to route it to the technical account manager for collaboration; if it’s a simple query, pick relevant solution articles from the knowledge base and resolve it themselves.

Gain a competitive edge with a reliable customer service process

For setting up a foolproof customer service process, your support team must inculcate the following efforts to get customer patronage with an evergreen support workflow.

  • Streamline communication and enhance support quality across touchpoints with a helpdesk.
  • New hires should get a glimpse of the customer service culture ingrained in your organization. Training becomes easier when they are on board with the service culture as soon as they join.
  • Leverage self-service as a prime support channel to ensure optimal customer experience and also improve the productivity of your support team.
  • Make collaboration seamless to create consistency and accountability across teams. Helpdesk collaboration can help you avoid trekking between teams to get back to your customers. For instance, if there’s a partner integration issue, your agent must have the functionality to collaborate with the partner on the ticket itself.
  • Increased performance and productivity by alignment support towards common, measurable goals.