•Do you have a clear operating policy?
•Is your turnover rate too high because you fail to train your employees or provide them with established procedures for routine tasks?
•Are you looking to sell your business to investors?
•Are customers always totally satisfied with their experience with your company?

This tutorial will help you to write the company operating manual, which is important to all of the above issues, and more.  Before getting started, it is helpful to read and have competed the steps recommended in “Designing the Service Cycle: Creating a Seamless Customer Experience from Brand Exposure to Customer Satisfaction Survey” by Michael Patrick Rooney, Esq.

1. The difference between Policies and Procedures.

•        Policies are brand-informed company stances on the issues which come up in a company’s line of business.  For example, for a software company, it may be the policy to deny returns of software which have been opened, installed, and registered for use, because the consumer has an active version of the software, and so returning the disk doesn’t do any good.

•        Procedures are instructions for carrying out the policies.  For the above example, the procedure for carrying out the policy might include: ask customer if the package is open; if yes: a. ask returning customer for serial number.  B. plug serial number into registration database.  If registered: read “Return Decline Policy” to customer and apologize for the inconvenience.

Policies and procedures, therefore, are often written at the same time.

TIP:
Lanuage and word choices must be as precise as possible so that the policies and procedures are clear and understandable.

2. Proper Formatting of Policies and Procedures

•        Policies

A statement of policy is often preceded by an explanation of the policy’s purpose or rationale, as in the above policy regarding already installed software refunds:
1.0 GENERAL
1.1 The purpose of the Software Return Policy is to enable customer satisfaction through guarantees of quality of production.
1.2  The purpose of the policy is to prevent unauthorized use of the software by users who install and then simply return the software and then continue to use the installed version.
Such general statements are then followed by the specific details of the policy, in this case, who is eligible, when the refund is appropriate, and so on.
2.0 POLICY
2.1 The Omega Software Return Policy is intended for customers who have not installed their software.  To be eligible for a software refund, customers may not have installed their software already.
2.2 A customer seeking a software refund must provide the software serial number at the time the refund request is made in order to apply for a refund.
2.3 If the software has not been installed, the customer is eligible for a refund.
•Procedures
Procedures provide a step-by-step explanation of how to carry out a policy.  They provide instructions not only for employees directly involved in the procedure, but also for managers who must ensure that the company’s policy is properly carried out.

To prepare for writing procedures, keep track of who must do what.  An easy and effective way is to create a dual column spreadsheet.  Label the left column “Actor” and the right column “Directions.”
•        Under “Actor,” list who must perform the action in each step;
•        under “Directions,” describe each step of the procedure.

Make sure your list describes each step fully and in the correct sequence.  In effect, the list serves as an outline for the procedure you will write.   The following example is a chart for writing a software return policy.
ACTOR          DIRECTIONS
Customer        Calls in; requests refund
Service Rep    Solicits whether package has been opened
Customer        Answer yes or no
Service Rep   Solicit serial number; enter into registration database. If database is positive for registration, read “No Return Policy” to customer. If database is negative for registration, proceed to Refund Processing Procedure
The draft created from that chart might look like this:

1.0 PROCEDURES

1.1        Upon receiving a call from a customer requesting a refund, the customer service rep (CSR) must first ask whether the package is opened.
1.1.1        If the package has not been opened, proceed to Refund Processing Procedure (#1.2).
1.1.2        If the Package has been opened, the CSR must ask for the serial number from the customer.
1.1.3        If the customer refuses to give the serial number, read to the customer the Software Return Policy and ask again for the serial number.
1.1.3.1        If the customer still refuses to give serial number, deny the refund.
1.1.4        Enter the customer’s serial number into the Registration Database and run a search.
1.1.5        If registration search is positive, read the Software Return Policy to the Customer and deny the refund.
1.1.6        If registration search is negative, proceed to Refund Processing Procedure (#1.2)

You will create these step by step instructions for every action item performed by any employee of your company.  These action items will be defined by job responsibilities, service cycles, and brand identity.  Here, the decision to read the policy to the consumer is a brand identity choice.  Rather than coldly denying the refund and saying that’s my job, the rep is to explain to the customer that there is a good reason for the denial.

3.        Instructions for Creating Policies and Procedures

Use the flowcharts suggested in “Designing the Service Cycle” to identify key junctions where policies and procedures will determine your company’s actions under the circumstances.  Refer to your Brand Identity Plan for making policies and procedures consistent with the perceptions you’d like your company to be known for.

For each action, use the above techniques to brainstorm, draft, and finally create policies and procedures to have approved by your business transactional attorney and put to use.

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