On Pre-Canned Responses

April 16 2012

The following post was written when I worked at Unit Interative.

A large part of my job is customer support for Unify, and like most customer support guys out there, one of the efficiencies I use is macros. (For those that don’t know, macros are pre-canned responses to questions that are asked often.) It saves a few minutes here and there, and they allow me to get back to the customer more quickly.

Although those macros are wonderful and save my fingers from typing hundreds of words a day, leaning on them too much can be detrimental, primarily for one reason: I am not a machine.

Of course, reading the insta-response before sending it out is always a good thing, ensuring it’s relevant to the discussion, but I’ve found that occasionally typing them out, even if it’s a long macro that’s been used hundreds of times before, can be beneficial for both myself and the customer.

For instance, if someone is having trouble with Unify and frantically emails us expecting a response yesterday and fills the email with way too many exclamation marks and types in long sentences like this one, responding with a general response may be more frustrating to the requester than helpful. Connecting with customers emotionally is important in situations like these, and macros will usually fall short since they weren’t written with this specific situation in mind.

Whether you’re replying to personal emails, customer support, or something in between, keep in mind you and the person you’re replying to are real. You exist, they exist, and at least when it comes to customer support, they are hoping that you will respond with empathy. Manually drafting replies will lessen the mechanical nature of emails and make for a more personal connection with customers, allowing their question, comment, or problem to carry more weight.

You’ve just spent a few minutes typing out a nice reply, and now you’re personally invested in them. Customers will pick up on the connection you’ve made and will appreciate it. 

They may become loyal evangelists, and because of the work you’ve put into the relationship, you’ll really care about them.