The policy and procedure manual is often the lifeblood of a bank or credit union’s customer service team. Too often, however, this manual is written in a way that makes it difficult to find or overly complicated for front-line staff to adequately leverage. These 10 tips can help you write policies and procedures so that they are as useful as possible to the people who need them most, your front-line customer or member service team.
How to Write Policies and Procedures
1. Assign accountability
One of the problems, historically, with maintaining and updating bank policies and procedures, is that there is no one role or department assigned to manage this process. In short, nobody is held accountable. As a result, anyone can add or edit content, which leads to inconsistent content structure and information, not to mention duplication of content. Similarly, important information that should be added or important changes that have been rolled out may be missed. This is why it’s crucial to assign oversight of policies and procedures to one role or department who can take responsibility for all policy, procedure and product information.
2. Inventory all content
The first step in creating a top-notch bank or credit union policies and procedures is to inventory the content that you currently have. Typically, there is content scattered across shared drives and the intranet, hiding in emails and binders, and floating around on sticky notes. By gathering all this information in one place you will give yourself a baseline from which to perform your next crucial step, the GAP analysis.
3. Perform a Gap analysis
Performing a Gap analysis can help you see what content you are missing, what content is old or inaccurate and what content is duplicate.
4. Break down content into bite-sized answers
Nobody likes to read long, dense documents, especially the front-line staff who have customers or members waiting on hold. Unfortunately, that’s how most policies and procedures are currently written. The remedy is breaking down this content into bite-sized pieces. For example, often there are many questions that are answered within one policy. By breaking down and pulling out each question and answer, you create targeted content that can be found faster.
5. Keep content structure consistent and ensure titles are accurate
The structure for your bank’s policies and procedures should be consistent. That’s because when front-line staff is looking for an answer they don’t have to acclimate themselves to each document they are viewing. Instead, they will know for instance that the question will be presented first in size XX font and bolded, the answer will appear next in size XX font and XX color and then a link will be presented that will offer more information. Maybe there will be additional support located in the bottom right and related promotional information on the top left. By knowing where in the document to go for each piece of information, customer service staff can spend more time doing their job and less time searching for information.
Similarly, titles must all follow a similar structure and format to ensure that the search function in your intranet (or whichever digital medium you are using to present policies and procedures) works properly. Since search relies heavily on titles and headers, it is important that these elements clearly reflect the content that a front-line staffer may be searching for.
6. Write for an end audience, not someone with a decade of experience in the financial industry
Consider the number of questions front-line staff is asked every day and the breadth of topics and products these questions cover. Then consider the fact that customer service members are typically entry-level workers without degrees in finance or banking. In order to effectively answer all these consumer questions in a timely manner requires that customer service staff easily understand and digest the policy and procedure documents they rely on.
For example, if your front-line staff is in charge of opening business accounts, they usually start the process off with choosing the type of company (i.e. LLC, Sole Proprietorship, etc.). But, don’t assume that the front line knows what each of these are. Instead, consider including a small glossary of each in a referenceable part of the procedure in order to help get the conversation and the procedure started on the right foot.
7. Use bullets and headers to make content easy to scan and digest
Another way to break up long dense documents, in addition to breaking out each topic or question, is to use headers, sub-heads, bullets and graphics. Using these elements can help the readers scan the documents to quickly find what they need.
8. Include links to related information
While breaking content into bite-sized pieces is so crucial for readability and search, many of those pieces will be related to one another. For example, you may have 100 questions and answers on auto loans which have all been broken down and separated. However, once the customer or member gets the answer to one of their auto loan questions, they will likely have another question, that builds off of their first question. Including related links in each piece of content can help customer service staff navigate and sometimes predict what the consumer will need next. To further illustrate this point: You are currently reading this blog post on improving policies and procedures at your bank or credit union, which means you may also be interested in this related post, Top 3 Banking Call Center Best Practices!
9. Perform a final review
Once all content has been inventoried, rewritten and restructured, it’s time to perform a final review and make sure nothing was missed. Once this is complete, let everyone know! Tell the front-line staff about the new delivery approach you have developed for policies and procedures. Show them how the content is now structured and how easy it will be for them to find the answers they need on a daily basis!
10. Ensure the policies and procedures are easy to access
While writing effective credit union and bank policies and procedures is the first step to improving customer service, the second is ensuring that front-line staff can quickly and easily access those policies and procedures. If they can’t, all that work has gone to waste. One way you can assess how easy it is for your front-line staff to access your policies and procedures is by taking a closer look at how your intranet is performing.
That’s where we come in. At Engageware, not only do we implement all of your bank’s policies and procedures, we make your content more searchable and easy-to-follow by your front-line staff as well. We do this through our Employee Knowledge Management solution, which takes your current intranet and supercharges it to work for your team members, not against them.
You may also find our Ultimate Guide to Fixing Your Policies and Procedures helpful.