Six steps to making the optimal customer service plan

A good customer service plan is essential if you want to work towards ever-better customer satisfaction and retention. It provides clear, actionable direction for agents and managers alike.  

Unfortunately, there’s no cookie-cutter, one-size-fits-all plan that makes sense for every customer service department. The goals and needs for customer service will vary based on your target market, your offering, your team availability, and your resources. This can make it difficult to know where to start when implementing your customer service plan.

Some elements are universal across any customer strategy, though. With that in mind, here are six key steps to creating the optimal customer service plan — no matter your business or industry.

First, what is a customer service plan?

A customer service plan is a strategy that establishes the goals, strategies, guides, and policies around a business’s customer service offering.

In short, it outlines exactly how agents should deliver service, and what doing so is hoped to achieve for the company.

But why have one? A customer service plan provides clear instructions and a clear vision for the future of the department. It helps agents work together to improve customer service in the ways that will most benefit the business. In turn, this brings increased customer satisfaction and loyalty — which can then lead to brand advocacy.

A customer service plan, then, is simply good business sense. But how do you go about implementing one?

Step one: understand your current offering

Implementing a customer service plan is all about improving the service and experience on offer. To do this, you need to know the current state of the service you’re offering.

This means reflecting on the policies, scripts, team, and channels you have in place. It includes looking at customer feedback about your service, as well as performance metrics from your agents.

By generating an idea of what the situation is at the start, it becomes easier to decide what you want to work on improving or changing.

Step two: understand customer requirements

The next step is to make sure you know what the consumers in your target market expect of customer service, and what they need to communicate with your team effectively.

For instance, consider channel options. Some businesses may find that customers benefit greatly from being able to reach out with video to demonstrate problems and see solutions. Other businesses might find they need to improve their phone or live chat support, as many of their customers want to reach out over real-time communication. And others still might find they need more emphasis placed on social media-based support.

There are also things like tone-of-voice expectations, personalisation expectations, and so on to consider.

Identifying these wants comes from customer feedback and survey answers, as well as understanding generational differences and popular trends.

Step three: set goals

With the above insights gathered, the next step for creating an optimal customer service plan is to identify the goals you want to meet.

This could be, for instance, about improving the service offered on a given platform. It might be a goal to exceed a given threshold percentage of happy/satisfied customers. It could be that you want to implement new channels successfully, and/or improve the AHT (average handling time) of queries.

These goals should reflect the requirements of your customers.

Step four: set policies

With your intentions outlined and ready to go in goal-form, step four of creating an optimal customer service plan is to set up and initiate policies. These policies will guide the base behaviour of your customer service team. So, you’re setting them to support your team in meeting your outlined goals.

Be sure to tweak or remove any existing policies that aren’t useful or that are causing service problems as well.

This is also a good time to consider which KPIs to track. Which metrics will best reflect progress towards your goals?

Step five: update/ improve tools

A customer support agent is only as good as their tools. If you have outdated tools, lacklustre integration, or a lack of channel options, it will negatively impact any attempt at providing good service and good experiences.

So, another step in your customer service plan should be to update and improve the tools and infrastructure supporting your team. And, beyond that, to schedule intervals in which these tools will be analysed and updated as needed.

Step six: train your team

The final core step to implementing the optimal customer service plan is making sure you always have adequately skilled team members to carry it out.

This starts with training your team. It continues with regular training opportunities throughout their career and the lifespan of your business.

The optimal customer service plan

An optimal customer service plan outlines the goals you have for your customer service, and implements a strategy to help agents achieve those goals.

As you surpass the customer experience goals set for your business, there will be a need to revisit your customer service plan, update it, tweak it, and rework it. In doing so, you support the creation of ever-higher customer satisfaction, ever-sturdier loyalty, and a higher employee satisfaction rate to boot.

Useful links

Customer service expectations across the different generations

A complete guide to chat AHT, and how to optimise it without adding resource

For all their training, your agents are only as good as their tech