How to Use Canned Responses to Streamline Customer Support

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PartnerHero
November 28, 2022
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How to Use Canned Responses to Streamline Customer Support

Personalized canned responses help CX associates answer customer issues faster. Use these examples and best practices to get started.

Providing customer service requires a delicate blend of solving problems quickly while making the customer feel valued. These two goals will often be at odds, and while customer experience is job number one, your team also needs to resolve as many customer issues as possible. Fortunately, there are ways to speed up the process while still making the customer feel like they are receiving personalized service.

One way to speed up the customer support process is by using canned responses. But what are canned responses and when are they appropriate to use? We cover that and provide some examples below.

What Is a Canned Response?

A canned response is a prewritten response to a frequently asked question (FAQ) or common customer issue or complaint, which can be delivered via a text-based support channel, like social media, chat, or email. These predefined response templates help support associates respond to common parts of customer service conversations, such as greetings/introductions, information gathering, common solutions, or closings.

Canned responses are quick replies that limit the amount of time your customer service team spends resolving common issues. When strategically used, they can work to improve key customer support metrics like customer satisfaction (CSAT), first response time (FRT), and average resolution time (ART). When you improve these metrics, you can boost your bottom line by reducing customer churn, increasing customer referrals, and raising your revenue per customer.

How to Write a Great Canned Response

Customer support agent writing canned responses

By their nature, canned responses run the risk of coming off as stilted and unnatural, since they are prewritten without the context of a specific customer ticket. Canned responses work best when they’re written in a way that makes them sound personal and warm so the customer feels valued. Let’s look at some best practices for creating great canned responses.

1. Select the Right Situations

Not every situation is right for a canned response. Go through all the frequently asked questions you receive and determine which could benefit from a canned response and which requires a more individualized response. 

For example, a general question about exporting a report from a software program or an inquiry about pricing could easily be handled by a canned response. That’s because these questions both have answers that vary little in any situation—the export process is likely the same no matter what and your standard pricing is probably universal.  

However, when technical support troubleshoots a network connection error, the situation might require more personalized service. Perhaps there are any number of reasons that could cause the error and working through those variables with a customer will change from situation to situation. 

This type of situation also presents another potential pitfall of canned responses: giving customers information they already have. In this case, for example, a canned response may include steps the customer has already taken before reaching out to your support team, such as resetting the router. By opting for a personalized response, you can avoid frustrating the customer and solve their issue faster.

Instead of a canned response, what might be more helpful is an internal checklist of solutions that your support associate can reference as they work through the issue with the customer.

2. Give Useful Information

Canned responses should always be helpful. Ensure you’re using canned responses to deliver useful information and show that action is being taken. For example, if a customer has a common issue that you address in self-help documentation, your canned response can include a link to that self-help tutorial and an option to continue the conversation with a customer support associate.

This gives the customer a potential solution but also allows them to get more personalized support.

3. Keep Canned Responses Concise

Canned responses should always be short and clear, so the customer can get quick answers. Keep your message friendly, yet brief.

For example, this greeting is a bit too long: “Hello, John, I hope your morning is off to a great start and your week is going well. My Name is Sarah. How may I be of service to you on this wonderful day?” Instead, shorten it to this: “Good morning, John. My name is Sarah. How may I help you?”

4. Make Personalizeable Canned Responses

Creating customizable canned responses can help improve CSAT and customer engagement, as it makes the customer feel like their issue is receiving white glove treatment. With many CRMs, you can also automate the personalization process to fill in fixed variables, like the customer’s name, account number, phone number, ticket number, or other details.

Create canned response templates with customizable sections directly addressing the customer’s issue. In this case, the bulk of the canned message will already be written, but the customer support associate can include details specific to the case in a customizable section.

5. Tell the Customer What’s Next

Customer support agent learning how to write canned responses

Canned replies should always make the customer aware of the next steps for resolving their issue. Whether the canned response is coming from a chatbot or a live human, it should always explain the actions the customer support team is taking and what the customer can expect to happen, whether that’s a confirmation the issue is fully resolved or a follow-up conversation to rectify the situation fully.

6. Create New Canned Responses as Needed

To keep your canned responses current and make sure they continue to help your customers, you’ll want to update them as you change your product and your policies. Even if your product isn’t changing that frequently, it’s a good idea to audit your canned responses a couple of times each year to make improvements. 

As new common questions arise, you can save them and craft new canned responses to match.

What Are the Best Canned Response Examples?

To help you get started, we’ve compiled a list of sample predetermined responses you could send through email, social media, or live chat. Here are some of the canned responses your customer support team or help desk may want to use.

Greetings

Greetings and salutations are a great opportunity for canned responses because they will mostly be the same between conversations. However, it is important to customize them to set a warm, personable tone for your conversation.

For example, this would function well for live chat situations, “Good [morning, afternoon, or evening], [customer name]. My name is [associate name], and I’m happy to assist you today. I have your account number here as [account number]. Is this the account you're contacting us about?”

Sourcing Information

When requesting initial information while identifying the issue, a canned response may be appropriate. Later in the conversation, when you’re trying to get more detailed information or troubleshooting unique issues, you’ll probably need to go off-script.

A solid information-gathering canned response would be, “I’m happy to help, [customer name], but first, I need some details about your problem. Can you tell me more about what’s happening?”

You can also use this type of canned response to verify account information. For example, “I’m happy to help you solve the issues you’re experiencing, [customer name]. Could you please provide me with some information? I’ll need your account number, telephone number, software version (found in the “About” menu), and your operating system (Windows, Mac, or Linux).”

Transferring to a New Associate or Escalating

When you need to transfer a customer to a new customer support associate with more expertise or escalate the issue to a different team, a canned response may be in order. 

For example, this response could say, “I see your issue will require some technical expertise, [customer name]. I have a representative ready to handle these more in-depth situations and will transfer you to them now. Please allow a few moments for me to explain your situation to them and they will join the chat.”

Booking a Demonstration

When a customer is considering your product but wants a demonstration, you can schedule this by sending a canned email response. 

Your canned response could read, “Thanks for your interest and enthusiasm in our product, [customer name]. We’re happy to give you an in-depth demonstration. Simply click this link to schedule it.”

This type of canned response can also work for booking onboarding or migration services or, with slight modification, for offering a call-back service.

Addressing a Common Problem

Canned responses work really well for procedural communications, like greetings and sign-offs, but they can also be extremely effective at allowing associates to quickly resolve common issues. 

For example, let’s say you sell bagged coffee and commonly get questions about how to reseal your coffee bags. A canned response for that issue could be something like, “Hi [customer name], it sounds like you’re having trouble with our resealable bags. I can help you with that!

“Resealing the bags can be tricky, but after testing dozens of designs, we found this one to work best at keeping beans fresh for the longest amount of time. To reseal your bag follow these steps:

“1. Fold the tabs down on each side

“2. Roll the top edge over itself and squeeze along the folded edge to engage the sealing mechanism

“3. Fold the tabs back over the side in the opposite direction

“You can watch a video demonstrating this here, and if you need more help, please let me know!”

Obviously this will be very specific to your product, but remember: even though canned responses are universal, they are unique to the issues your customer support team deals with.

Offering a Status Update

Support agent reading canned responses

You can use a canned response to let customers know you’ve identified the issue and started working on a solution. If your technical team expects to fix it within an hour, your canned response could be, “Our technical team has found the root cause of the issues you’re experiencing, [customer name]. They’re working on a solution now and expect it to be resolved by [ETA for resolution]. I would like to offer you a [discount amount] discount for the inconvenience this has caused.”

It’s important to note that you can create canned responses for temporary issues where you expect a lot of volume with the same question (e.g., like an outage, data breach, negative press response, or bug).

Telling Customers ‘No’

Having to tell a customer “no” is never easy, but some requests are unreasonable or outside company policy. Craft a simple canned response for common questions like these, such as, “Sorry, but we don’t offer free trials. We’re confident you’ll love our service and see its value. However, we offer a 30-day money-back guarantee just in case this isn’t the right product for you.”

Resolving a Ticket

When you’re ready to confirm you’ve solved the customer’s issue, you can do so via a canned response. This ensures the customer is happy with your resolution, and there’s nothing else the customer needs before you end the conversation.

Here’s a great canned response for this situation: “Thanks for contacting us, [customer name]. Have I fully resolved your problem? Do you have any additional questions or concerns? If so, please write them in the chat box and click “Send.” If everything is resolved and there are no further questions, click the “End chat” button.”

Asking for Feedback

Your customer support team can dramatically improve its service by asking for and acting on customer feedback. To gather that feedback, ask for it at the end of every conversation with a canned response. For example, you could say, “We strive to deliver excellent customer support and rely on feedback from customers like you [customer name]. If you’d like to help us improve, please click here to take our five-minute customer support feedback survey.”

Use Canned Responses to Resolve More Issues

Associates writing canned responses

Canned responses can be a great way to improve customer support key performance indicators (KPIs), as they speed up your response and resolution times. As these improve, you’ll see greater customer satisfaction, leading to higher customer retention and revenue.

Use canned responses in appropriate situations, and tailor them to feel personal. Get started by using the above canned response best practices and modifying our examples for your team.

For more resources on how to deliver excellent customer support, check out the PartnerHero blog.

PartnerHero

PartnerHero is the BPO for companies that care about quality and people. We connect talented and capable people from all over the world with innovative companies who care about business metrics and values. We're big fans of integrity, finding the right fit, and bringing opportunity to places that have traditionally been left behind. We specialize in Customer Support, Trust & Safety, Quality Assurance and Software QA. Visit our website and drop us a line.

PartnerHero is the BPO for companies that care about quality and people. We connect talented and capable people from all over the world with innovative companies who care about business metrics and values. We're big fans of integrity, finding the right fit, and bringing opportunity to places that have traditionally been left behind.We specialize in Customer Support, Trust & Safety, Quality Assurance and Software QA. Visit our website and drop us a line.