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.