Four Essential Canned Responses for Customer Service
When I hear the phrase “canned response”, I cringe. There are so many other terms for the same thing, but they’re all just as cringe-worthy and none of them conjure up the image of “good support.” But sometimes saved replies—or canned responses as we’ll call them here—can actually be the best way to provide support, especially to a large group of people that are all expressing the same problems. Why type the same response over and over again when you can have a saved reply that’s already written with care and concern to address their issue directly? Here are just a few of the situations where you can use canned replies, as well as the best tactics for writing them.
#1 A Feature Request that You Have on Your Roadmap
Feature requests are one thing that most companies share in common. Customers always want more from you or change to whatever you’re currently offering. Sometimes you get repeated requests for features that your product team begins to consider them more seriously, or you already have something on your product roadmap that people are asking for. That’s great! Knowing that something is on its way makes it easier to tell your customers. Here are a few steps to take when you receive this message:
1. Thank them for reaching out and sharing their insights.
2. Let them know that this particular feature is already being planned, and give them a timeline if you can.
3. Ask them to email back if they have other insights or needs to share.
Here’s an example for you to customize for your company’s tone and needs:
#2 A Feature Request that You will Never Build
For every one feature that your product team is planning to build based on requests, there are at least 10 that they aren’t. You can look at your ticket trackers and probably see feature requests with hundreds of conversations attached to them, and know that they will never be built because they don’t align with the product vision, or because it doesn’t work with product infrastructure as it currently stands.
That being said, just because you know it’s not going to happen doesn’t mean your customer does, or that it means any less to them to have it as a feature. So, how do you handle that?
1. Identify and track the feature request in whatever tracking system you use. Daniel D. Beck has some great guidelines to use1.
2. Get back to the customer with a saved reply: acknowledge that this is a valid request, but be clear and state that you are most likely not going to build that feature.
3. If you can explain why you aren’t building the feature, you should share that with them too.
4. Ask them if they have additional insights they would like to pass along to your product team, beyond what they have already shared.
It seems fairly straightforward, especially for something that can be as nuanced as a feature request. But acknowledging your customer’s issues and telling them that they’re valid, as well as explaining why your company has made the choice rather than just that they aren’t doing it yet can go a long way in bridging the gap with an upset customer. Here’s an example of what it should look like:
#2 Better Bug Report Guide
Every support team member has received a message that looks something like “Hi, this isn’t working. Can you help me fix it?” Instead of typing a new response asking for more information, or explaining how to try to debug a problem, create a saved reply that your team can customize as needed. The steps for writing an email like this are:
1. Acknowledge that they are having trouble.
2. Explain that in order to help, you need more information.
3. Give them a list of information that will help you solve the problem.
4. Assure them that once you have the information, you’ll get back to them quickly.
Although this saved reply will likely be very different for each company, here’s a general template for what it could look like:
#4 Some Other Honorable Mentions
Along with those larger saved replies, two other useful ones to have in your team’s metaphorical back pocket are, one to say ‘Thanks and goodbye!’, and another to let your customer know that you’re working on an issue. Being able to hit a button that automatically lets them know that you’re working on it, without you having to type out a paragraph can be supremely helpful, especially if you have an outage, or there is a known bug. An example of what something like this might look like is:
Even if you use the canned responses above, you’ll still need to do a little bit of customization to fit your company. Here are a few best practices to keep in mind.
#1 Personalize When You Can
Personalization is incredibly important to customers. In fact, according to Forbes2, 44% of customers who were given a personalized experience were significantly happier and likely to keep using the product than those that weren’t. So, use dynamic content to spice up your saved replies and make personalization easy.
#2 Read Before You Send
Just because a canned response was prewritten doesn’t mean that it was double checked and proofread. People are less inclined to read what you’re writing or take you seriously if it is rife with spelling errors3. Use a spellchecker or proofread everything before you send it out4, and if you find an error in the canned response, update it so that everyone benefits from your diligence.
#3 Speak Like a Human
As you can see in the templates above, even in tense situations (like telling someone you’re not going to build what they want), it’s crucial to speak like a human. Avoid using bland jargon5 or overly complex sentence structure. Speak to your customers as you would speak to a family member: with respect, but colloquially and warmly, as long as that matches your brand persona.
Canned responses can make a huge difference in how quickly you can respond to your customers, and how much satisfaction they gain through your response to them. Crafting them to fit the tone of your company, as well as the situations that you run into is the best way to make an effective catalog of canned responses that will serve you and your customer base well.
1 – https://ddbeck.com/bug-reports-that-get-results/
2 – https://www.forbes.com/sites/shephyken/2017/10/29/personalized-customer-experience-increases-revenue-and-loyalty/#28bdba734bd6
3 – https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0149885
4 – https://www.grammarly.com/blog/how-to-proofread-emails/
5 – https://blog.hubspot.com/service/canned-responses