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The Go-To Series: Part 5 - Customer Engagement Standard Operating Procedure (SOP)

A customer engagement standard operating procedure (SOP) is a very long name for a document that explains the step-by-step processes that should be followed whenever you interact with your customers. As with all the other Go-Tos that we have discussed so far, this document will save you time and energy when it comes to the management of your digital presence.


Similar to your writing guide, this is a living document that needs to be updated and changed as you interact with your customers. Using the information in this document combined with your writing guide is also a great starting point for setting up a knowledge base for FAQs, chatbots, and other automation.


So, how do you set up a customer engagement SOP and what should you include in yours? Let's begin!


How to Set Up a Customer Engagement SOP

Generally, a document of this nature is more directly associated with customer service, but with the aim of saving time and energy, I want to broaden the scope to include all interactions with customers - whether they are specifically focussed on customer service or not.


First of all, you want to make a list of all the possible moments in which you engage with customers on a daily basis. Effectively, what are your customer touchpoints? Do you make use of email, social media, your website inquiry form, telephone conversations, SMS, etc? For this step, you need to be as specific as possible. Social media offers different platforms and different ways for your customers to contact you (direct message, comments, recommendations, tagging your business in their posts, etc.) Each one of these need to be included in your list.


Once you have your list ready, you need to write down, in step-by-step detail, what happens from initial contact through to the close of the conversation. It’s important to understand that one customer can have several conversations with your business and you need to write down the process for each of these conversations. For example, let’s say a customer posts a complaint on one of your social media pages. The interaction you have with that customer on your social page (i.e your response to their post) is one conversation. The follow-up interaction that you have with that same customer via a different channel (either phone, email, direct messages, etc.) should be seen as another conversation. Even though it is a continuation of the one that was started on your social platform, it has its own steps and process.


Interactions to Include In Your Document

As important as it is to have a process document set up for dealing with the different kinds of customer complaints that you receive, you also need to consider setting up a step-by-step guide explaining how you respond to other customer interactions, not just complaints. These interactions include:

  • product or service questions

  • pricing questions

  • purchase or booking questions

  • responding to compliments

  • after-sales follow up conversations

  • sales and booking inquiry follow up conversations

  • booking reminder conversations

  • customer purchase tracking conversations

Remember, you need to write down the process for each channel that you make use of and each touchpoint that forms part of that channel. For example, if a customer inquired about the price of a product, how long do you wait to contact them with more information about the product with the aim of making a sale? Which channel do you use to contact them on? How do you respond to a post on your social media page complimenting your product or service? How long do you wait to contact a customer after a purchase to find out if they are satisfied with their product and to ask for a testimonial? How do you pose that question? What do you do if they aren't satisfied with their purchase? There are many questions that need to be answered when setting up your customer engagement SOP and you will only really get a full view of your customer engagement process (as well as your sales process) once you start setting up your document.


The Benefits of Using a Customer Engagement SOP

This kind of document does take some time to set up, but there are two main reasons why you should seriously consider investing your time and energy in getting yours going. Firstly, having set steps and procedures helps to keep your customer service and customer interactions consistent and professional. After all, many studies have shown that customers prefer interacting with businesses that offer better customer satisfaction. So much so, that they are willing to even pay higher prices for it!


Secondly, a document of this nature takes the guesswork out of what to do next - essentially saving you a lot of time and effort. Instead of needing to think about what to do every time you need to respond to a query, handle a complaint, or simply interact with a customer, you refer to the document and follow the steps and suggested conversations that you set up for yourself.


To Summarise

Your customer engagement standard operating procedure (SOP) is an ever-changing document that explains the different steps involved when interacting with your customer. It should cover all of your channels and customer touchpoints and should ideally include more than just your general customer service interactions. It does take time to set up the initial version of your document, but its ability to save you time and effort, as well as making sure that your customer service is consistent and professional, makes the initial investment more than worth it.