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How do you measure the success of your customer service team?
Is it by the number of tickets they close? The number of calls they take? The number of repeat customers?
What if we told you that there’s another way to measure the success of your customer service team, and it’s through documentation.
You read it right – documentation.
Boring old documentation.
But hear us out — we promise it’s not as dry as it sounds.
Customer documentation is one of the secret ingredients to a successful customer service operation.
And in this blog post, we’re going to tell you why.
What is Customer Service Documentation?
Customer service documentation is part of customer information, the non-sexy but that doesn’t usually make it into the marketing collateral.
It’s the nuts and bolts of your customer service operation – the how-tos, the whys, and the troubleshooting guides.
It’s the documentation that your team uses daily to do their jobs.
It’s also about making records and organizing them such that it’s easily accessible to all the parties involved.
The documentation may include customers — their buying history, birthday, special occasions, interests, preferences, likes, and dislikes.
And it may also include your team — their skills, training, and development needs.
But most importantly, customer service documentation is a living, breathing document that’s constantly evolving as your customer service operation grows and changes.
Why is Customer Service Documentation Important?
Customer service documentation is the foundation of any successful customer service operation.
It’s the manual that your team relies on to do their jobs.
Think about it this way – if your customer service team is the heart of your operation, documentation is the brain.
And like any good brain, it needs to be well-functioning and up-to-date.
Outdated or inaccurate customer service documentation can lead to a whole host of problems, including:
- Unhappy customers
- Frustrated team members
- Inefficient processes
- Missed sales opportunities
- Poor customer retention
In other words, documentation is critical to the success of your customer service operation.
And yet, it’s often overlooked or given short shrift.
Well, documentation can be time-consuming and tedious to produce.
It’s also easy to let it fall by the wayside in the face of more pressing demands.
But make no mistake — customer service documentation is the glue that holds your customer service operation together.
Benefits of Customer Service Documentation
#1. Better Customer Experience
Customer service documentation helps companies deliver the best customer experience in several ways.
For starters, it helps ensure your team is always up-to-date on the latest procedures and protocols.
That can, in turn, help reduce mistakes and errors, which can frustrate customers and damage your company’s reputation.
Second, it enhances the customer experience by providing your team with the information they need to resolve customer issues quickly and efficiently.
Finally, documentation can help create a more seamless customer experience by providing a single source of truth for all your team members.
No more playing telephone tag between different departments or managers — documentation ensures everyone is on the same page, making for a smoother, more efficient customer experience.
Imagine this: repeat callers won’t have to say the same thing to every customer service representative they speak to.
That’s because documentation provides a “memory” for your team, so they can quickly and easily look up the information they need to resolve the issues they’re served with.
That leads to happier customers and fewer frustrated team members.
In short, customer service documentation is a win-win for everyone involved.
#2. Improve Standards and Quality of Products and Services
Customer service documentation can also help to improve the standards and quality of products and services.
Customer service documentation allows businesses to track customers’ past interactions and feedback.
This information can improve the quality of your products and services.
For example, let’s say you own a restaurant and notice that a particular dish is getting a lot of complaints.
You can use this information to change the recipe or preparation method.
As a result, you’ll improve not only customer satisfaction but also the quality of your product.
In short, customer service documentation can help you take a proactive approach to quality control.
#3. Preservation of Truth and Facts
Customer service documentation also helps to preserve the truth and facts.
In other words, it provides an accurate record of what happened, when, and who was involved.
That’s important for several reasons.
First, it can help to prevent or resolve disputes.
For example, let’s say a customer claims that they were promised a discount that never materialized.
You can refer to the documentation of the interaction to see if this is true or not.
Second, documentation can be used to improve customer service standards and procedures.
For example, let’s say you notice that a particular customer complaint is being raised frequently.
You can use the documentation to make changes to your procedures or training to prevent this from happening in the future.
Finally, documentation can help you to track trends and patterns.
For example, let’s say you notice that customer complaints are increasing during a specific time of the year.
You can use this information to adjust your staffing levels or product offerings.
This way, you can prevent future issues and keep your customers happy.
#4. Faster Response Time to Customer Inquiries
The team can quickly attend to customers’ inquiries and requests when the call centre is adequately equipped with the latest customer service documentation.
That’s because they have all the information they need at their fingertips.
They don’t have to go through the hassle of looking for specific files or asking other departments for help.
That leads to a faster response time and a better overall customer experience.
In addition, documentation can help to improve the quality of customer service.
#5. Improved Customer Service Skills
When employees have quick and easy access to customer service documentation, they can brush up on their skills quickly and easily.
This is especially important for new employees who are still learning the ropes.
But it’s also beneficial for experienced employees who want to keep their skills sharp.
Either way, easy access to documentation leads to better-trained and more knowledgeable employees.
And that leads to improved customer service for your business.
#6. Promotes Team Work
Documentation promotes teamwork because it ensures everyone is on the same page and knows what needs to be done.
Customer service representatives can quickly resolve customer issues without transferring calls or putting customers on hold when they have access to documentation.
Everyone in the organization can access the same information, which leads to better communication and a more efficient customer service operation.
In other words, it will ensure everyone within your organization works together to ensure the customer is happy with the end result.
#7. Increased Productivity
Documentation improves productivity.
First, it allows customer service representatives to find the necessary information quickly.
And second, by promoting teamwork and collaboration.
When everyone works together and accesses the same information, tasks can be completed more quickly and efficiently.
That leads to increased productivity, which translates to a better bottom line for your business.
#8. Improved Customer Retention
You’re more likely to retain customers when you provide excellent customer service.
And documentation plays a significant role in providing excellent customer service.
You can quickly resolve customer issues by having all the information you need at your fingertips.
This leads to happier customers who are more likely to do business with you again in the future.
#9. Training Guide
All new team members need to do is go through the customer service documentation to get up to speed quickly.
It’s a huge time-saver for businesses because they don’t have to spend as much time training new employees.
They can go through the document to learn from their knowledgeable members and see how they served their customers in the past.
#10. Improved Cost Efficiency
Having all the information you need readily available can help you avoid wasting time and resources that come with looking for specific files or asking other departments for help.
That leads to a more efficient and cost-effective operation.
#11. Reduced Customer Churn
When you have documentation in place, you can quickly resolve customer issues.
This leads to happier customers who are less likely to churn.
Churn is the percentage of customers who leave your business over time.
#12. Minimized Error Rates
When everyone has access to the same information, there’s less room for error.
That’s because people are less likely to make mistakes when they have all the facts.
That leads to fewer customer issues and a better overall customer experience.
#13. Centralized Knowledge Base
A documentation system acts as a centralized knowledge base for your business.
It’s a place where you can store all the information you need in one place.
This makes it easy for employees to find the information they need. It also helps promote teamwork.
#14. More Sales
The ultimate goal of customer service is to increase sales.
Documentation makes customer satisfaction easier to achieve, hence more sales.
It also helps businesses upsell and cross-sell products and services to customers.
#15. Documentation Is a Necessity
Despite the many benefits of customer service documentation, some businesses still don’t have it in place.
That’s because they don’t think they need it or don’t know where to start.
A colossal mistake if you ask.
Documentation is a necessary part of any customer service operation.
Without it, you’re putting your business at a disadvantage.
#16. Information Shared is Information Saved
You never know when you or a team member will leave the company.
When this happens, all the knowledge and information they have goes with them.
But if this information is documented, it can be passed on to other team members.
#17. A Client’s Past Experience is Invaluable
If a client has had a bad experience with your product or service, they’re likely to be hesitant about using it again.
But if you have documentation of their past experiences, you can use this to your advantage.
You can show them that you’re aware of their concerns and that you’ve made changes to prevent the issue from happening again.
#18. Keep Your Promises
When you make a promise to a customer, you need to keep it.
Documentation can help you keep track of these promises and follow through.
It also shows customers that you’re serious about your commitment to them.
#19. Documentation Holds Everyone Accountable
If there are problems with your customer service, documentation can help determine who’s responsible.
It will provide a record of what was promised and what was delivered.
It also holds everyone accountable for their actions.
#20. It Helps to Know the Facts
In some cases, customers may not be entirely truthful about their experiences.
But if you have documentation, you can fact-check their claims and call them out if they’re not being honest.
It’s an excellent strategy to build trust and credibility with your customers.
#21. Helps You Know Who’s the Most Customer-centric Members of the Customer Support Team
In any organization, there will always be some employees who care more about the customer than others.
But without documentation, it’s hard to know who these people are.
The Disadvantage of Not Having Customer Service Documentation
Customer service departments have a lot on their plate. They are often the first point of contact for customers and are responsible for handling various customer issues.
That can be a lot to handle, especially for small customer service teams. Without proper documentation, it can be difficult to keep track of the different aspects of customer service.
I find that documentation is the last priority for many businesses. They would rather invest their time and resources into other business areas.
A huge mistake if you ask.
Without the proper documentation, customer service teams will struggle to keep up with the demands of their job. That can lead to several problems, such as:
- You can’t service your customers properly: Documentation is the foundation of good customer service. Without it, your team will struggle to provide the level of service your customers expect.
- You’ll miss out on crucial customer insights: Documentation can help you track and understand customer issues. You can use this information to improve your customer support and, most importantly, your products and services.
- No service record for your customers: Documentation helps you keep track of your customer interactions. This is important for quality control and legal purposes.
- It’s more difficult to train new customer service reps: New customer service reps must be able to hit the ground running. Proper documentation will help them do this.
- The possibility of losing customer passwords: You’re working on a customer’s account in the middle of the night. You need their password to log in, but you can’t find it anywhere. You can’t call them because it’s 3 AM.
What do you do?
If you had proper documentation, you would have a record of all the customer passwords. But without it, you’re stuck.
- Licensing tracking isn’t possible: You need to track which customers have licenses. But without documentation, this task becomes nearly impossible.
- You can’t correctly escalate issues: Issues will inevitably arise that require escalation. But without documentation, it can be difficult to determine who to escalate the problem to, let alone how to escalate it.
- You can’t correctly follow defined processes: Every customer service team has defined processes in place. For example, how to handle returns or cancellations. You can’t correctly follow these processes without proper documentation.
- You can’t follow change control: Documentation is essential for change control. When a process or procedure is changed, you need to document it. Otherwise, it can be challenging to track who made the change and when it was made.
The bottom line is that customer service documentation is crucial to any customer service department. It’s the foundation of good customer service.
Your team needs it to serve your customers properly. And you need it to track and understand customer issues.
In the spirit of documenting things, it’s important to know when enough is enough.
You don’t want to create so much documentation that it becomes a burden for your team.
The goal is to find the right balance between too much and too little.
Here are a few things to keep in mind:
- Only document what’s necessary
- Make sure the documentation is easy to understand
- Keep it up to date
- Review the documentation regularly
- Get feedback from your team
- Simplify the process where possible
- Automate when possible
When it comes to customer service, documentation is a necessity.
It has many benefits that can help you improve the quality of your customer service and increase sales.
But it’s crucial to find the right balance so you don’t overload your team with too much documentation.
Six Tips for Implementing Customer Service Documentation
Maintaining an effective customer service documentation system may seem daunting, but it doesn’t have to be.
The idea is to make your documentation as user-friendly and intuitive as possible.
Here are a few tips to help you get started:
#1. Keep it Simple
The principle of less is more applies to customer service documentation.
Don’t try to document everything. Just stick with what’s necessary.
#2. Use plain language
Your documentation should be easy to understand. Avoid using jargon or technical terms.
#3. Be concise
Get to the point and be as brief as possible. No one wants to read a novel.
#4. Organize your information
The easier it is to find information, the more it’s likely to be used.
Use headings, lists, and other formatting techniques to make your documentation easy to navigate.
#5. Use visuals
Images, diagrams, and videos can be very helpful in explaining complex concepts.
#6. Make it accessible
Your documentation should be available when and where your team needs it.
That may mean creating both online and offline versions of the document.
Customer Support Documentation Tools You Might Need
There are many different customer support documentation tools available. The tools you choose will depend on your needs and preferences. Here are a few popular options:
#1. Ticketing Software
A ticketing system allows you to track and manage customer support requests. It can also be used to generate reports.
There are many different types of ticketing software available. Some popular options include Zendesk, Freshdesk, and Help Scout.
#2. Live Chat Software
Live chat software allows you to communicate with customers in real-time. This can be a great way to resolve customer issues quickly.
Some popular live chat software options include Slack, HipChat, and Intercom.
#3. Knowledge Base Software
A knowledge base is a collection of articles, FAQs, and other information that can be used to resolve customer issues.
It can be accessed online or offline. Popular knowledge base software options include Help juice, Zendesk Knowledge Base, and Freshdesk Knowledge Base.
#4. Screen Recording Software
Screen recording software allows you to record your screen and share the recording with others. That can be a great way to show someone how to do something.
Some popular screen recording software options include Loom, CloudApp, and Snagit.
#5. Collaboration Software
Collaboration software allows team members to communicate and work together on projects. This can be a great way to improve customer support efficiency.
Some popular collaboration software options include Basecamp, Asana, and Trello.
#6. CRM Software
CRM (customer relationship management) software helps you manage your customer relationships. You can use it to track customer interactions and manage the data you collect.
Some popular CRM software options include Salesforce, Zoho CRM, and HubSpot CRM.
#7. Live Chat Transcript Software
Live chat transcript software allows you to save and search transcripts of your live chat conversations. That can be a great way to reference customer issues.
Some popular live chat transcript software options include ChatMapper, Chatfuel, and Conversational Cloud.
#8. Password Manager
Imagine working on a critical customer issue at 2 in the morning only to realize that you can’t log in to their account because you don’t have a password. That leaves you with only two options: either you scrap the idea of trying to help them or call them (at 2 in the morning) to ask for their password.
A password manager helps you store and manage customer passwords securely. This can be a lifesaver when dealing with customer accounts.
Popular password managers include LastPass, KeePass, Thycotic 1Password, and Dashlane.
#9. Wiki for Customer Information
Customer information comes down to more than just service issues and passwords. There’s product information, processes, account details, and a whole host of other data your team needs to know.
Think about all the items in your customers’ network. Networking devices, software, configurations… the list goes on.
While you can easily track all this information in a spreadsheet is easy, it’s not very efficient. A wiki is a much better solution.
That’s especially true for the information requiring a long-form format. For example:
- Installation instructions for a new product
- How to configure a specific networking device
- Troubleshooting steps for a common issue
A wiki allows you to keep all this information organized. It also ensures the information is easy to find.
The amount of information you can store for each customer can be staggering. That’s why it’s crucial to have a system that manages everything.
A wiki is a perfect tool for this.
A wiki allows you to store and organize customer information in one place. It can be accessed by anyone on your team and updated as needed.
And it doesn’t have to be complicated. You can develop a simple webpage, each containing a section for each customer, and can be remotely accessed by your engineering staff.
You have to secure it, of course. But that’s a whole other issue.
Some popular wiki software options include MediaWiki, Confluence, and Dokuwiki.
A CMS program such as WordPress, Joomla, and Drupal may also do the job.
#10. Network Management Software
Network management software gives you visibility into your customer’s network. They can track IPs, router configurations, firewall rules, network performance trends, and more.
This type of software is a must for any customer with a complex network. It’s also a great way to manage customer networks proactively.
Some popular network management software options include NetBrain, Cacti, and Nagios.
#11. Project Management Software
Project management software helps you track customer projects. This can be a great way to ensure that customer projects are on track and stay within scope.
Some popular project management software options include Asana, Trello, and Basecamp.
How to Get Started with Customer Service Documentation
The best way to get started with customer service documentation is to start small.
Don’t try to document everything all at once. That’s a recipe for disaster.
Instead, start with the basics. You can always add more documentation later.
Here are a few things you should include in your customer service documentation:
- List of your Team’s Responsibilities: What exactly is your team responsible for? This might seem like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised how many customer service teams don’t clearly understand their responsibilities.
- A list of your team’s procedures: What are the defined processes for your customer service team? For example, how do you handle returns or cancellations?
- A list of your team’s processes: What are the defined processes for your customer service team? For example, how do you handle customer complaints?
- A glossary of customer service terms: It will help ensure everyone on your team uses the same terminology.
- A list of FAQs: Your customer service team doesn’t have to write new answers to common questions whenever a customer asks. Your documentation must feature a list of FAQs your team can easily reference when handling some of these questions.
- A knowledge base: Your documentation should include a knowledge base of information that your team can easily access. That’s different from a FAQ in that it contains more detailed information.
- A list of customer service templates: Templates are a great way to standardize how your team handles specific tasks. For example, you may have a template for handling customer complaints or returns. Or you may have a template solving technical issues.
- A list of resources: Your documentation should include a list of resources that your team can use to resolve customer issues. That may include links to websites, manuals, or contact information for vendors. Your customer service documentation doesn’t have to be complicated. Just start with the basics and add more as you go.
Organizing Your Customer Service Documentation
Once you’ve decided what to include in your customer service documentation, you need to determine how to organize it.
The idea is to organize the documentation in a way that makes it easy for your team to find the information they need when they need it.
One way to do this is by using customer service software like Zendesk or Freshdesk. These platforms offer built-in documentation tools that make organizing and storing your customer service documentation easy.
Another way to organize your customer service documentation is to use a Google Doc or a shared network drive. This approach can work well if you have a small team and don’t need the features offered by customer service software.
The most important thing is to find a system that works for you and your team. There’s no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to customer service documentation.
Making Your Customer Service Documentation User-Friendly
Your customer service documentation won’t do your team any good if they can’t find the information they need or if it’s too difficult to use.
That’s why it’s crucial to make your documentation user-friendly.
Here are a few tips for making your customer service documentation user-friendly:
- Keep it simple: Use clear and concise language. Avoid technical jargon.
- Make it easy to find: Use headings, subheadings, and bullet points to make it easy to scan your documentation.
- Include plenty of examples: Wherever possible, include examples to illustrate key points.
- Use visuals: Use images, screenshots, and infographics to break up text and make complex topics easier to understand.
Hopefully, this article will help you get off on the right foot with customer service documentation.
And remember, customer service documentation is a living document. It should be updated and changed as your team grows and changes.
Don’t let it become a burden. Use it to help your team be more efficient and, most importantly, improve customer support.
Good documentation can also be a lifesaver. And it’s worth its weight in gold.