How flowcharts can help you improve your customer support processes
My first experience with flowcharts in customer service operations dates back to the time I worked as a salesperson in a retail outlet.
Back there, the customer care agents had flowchart stickers pasted all over their working desks.
There were varieties of charts. Some charts described actions to take if a customer makes a complaint, while others talked about decisions to take if a customer makes an order. There were charts for cold calling communication, too, as well as charts for customer error messages.
If my memory serves me right, this is what a typical flowchart example from those times looked like:
Out of curiosity, I asked one of the agents why it was important to spell out the customer service operations explicitly. He answered and said, “Because there is no room for mistakes.”
Years later, I found myself in a customer support role, and that was the point I understood the significance of flowcharts in customer service.
I’m creating this post to educate those organizations that are yet to embrace flowcharts as parts of their customer service operations.
What is customer service?
Customer service is the act of providing support to both prospective and existing customers. Support, in this case, could mean attending to customers’ queries, requests, error messages, orders, and other needs.
In many organizations, professional customer service agents are usually hired to provide the level of support required to keep customers happy. Does this guarantee 100% customer satisfaction? Not at all.
Over and again, we still hear reports of displeased customers making their case on Facebook or disgruntled buyers calling out brands on Twitter.
Indeed, there are still some flaws in many organizations’ customer service systems. The good news is flowcharts can help remove many of the imperfections found in most organizations’ systems.
How do flowcharts help with customer service?
Flowcharts play a simple but important role in customer service. And that’s the simplification of customer support processes to help agents understand the steps they must take when fulfilling a customer’s request.
The importance of flowcharts in customer service is further emphasized by the introduction of a special kind of flowchart called the ‘customer service flow chart.’ These flowcharts, unlike regular ones, are fashioned strictly for customer support needs. They help to visualize the various steps in the customer service process and the order in which they are followed. By looking at a customer service flowchart, an agent should be able to attend to any corresponding customer request or query.
How to Improve Customer Service Using Flowcharts
In the previous frame, we established the concept of ‘customer service flowchart’ and how it helps agents discharge their duties properly.
Besides this, flowcharts can also improve other aspects of a company’s customer service process. These areas include:
It can help to fish out bottlenecks in the process
The complex nature of customer service means that there will be instances where support isn’t adequately provided. For instance, multiple queries can come into a section of the customer service area, causing traffic in that area more than in other areas. Additionally, such realities can leave some areas shouldering more responsibilities than others.
Flowcharts can fish out scenarios like these.
Flowcharts, in addition to swimlanes, can help illustrate the sequence of a process and the employees or departments responsible for executing the process. If there are bottlenecks anywhere, the clarity provided by your flowchart will make it almost impossible to miss.
It can provide solutions to both the customer and the agent
When a customer lodges a complaint, a customer care agent can use a flowchart to walk the customer through the step-by-step for resolving that issue. This is better than trying to narrate the solution steps in words. By presenting a detailed flowchart – whether by email or social media DM – the customer can easily DIY the challenge they have.
Furthermore, flowcharts can also help the customer service agent discharge their duties. We already established this earlier when we talked about how agents use flowcharts.
As a customer care agent, you may run into troubles while attempting to resolve a customer’s complaint. In such moment, you can use a flowchart to analyze the issue and arrive at a solution. Just like the case with the agents at the retail outlet, I said I once worked.
It can act as a customer-agent communication playbook
How you communicate with customers can be an indication of the type of brand you are. Some companies want their agents to communicate with customers in a certain tone of voice and pattern.
If you’re like this also, incorporating a flowchart into your customer support communication system is a no-brainer.
Instead of leaving your agents to talk to customers as they see fit, you can have a script that guides conversations between them and the customers. This script will be in the form of a flowchart. That way, agents can easily visualize the flow of the conversation to have with customers.
Additionally, you can use such scripts to train new customer support agents.
It can be used to train new agents
When you bring in new agents to your customer support team, it’s essential to train and show them how they fit into the overall support process.
Flowcharts can help in both regards.
For example, it can showcase customer support flow to new agents. That is, tell them how to respond to requests, what to say and what not to say, actions to take in response to an outcome, and so on.
Secondly, in addition to swimlanes, flowcharts can help new agents see their roles, where they come into the picture, etc.
It helps to provide useful customer materials in a visual format
Human beings are generally visual creatures. We tend to understand things faster when they’re presented in visual formats rather than verbal or textual formats.
If you’re a type of business that offers User Guides and Manuals to customers, presenting information in flowchart format will help users grasp concepts better and faster.