Canned responses are pre-populated help desk messages that allow customer support agents to respond quickly to customer issues. A catalog of canned responses can increase a customer success team's efficiency, allowing them to provide more resolutions to more customers, quickly and efficiently.

Here are some common canned responses to save in your email inbox, along with details on how to implement them successfully.

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Following the list are some guiding principles that will help you ensure your canned responses are providing the best customer experience possible -- so read on.

1. We've received your message and we're working on it.

If a customer submits a support ticket, they deserve 1. confirmation that you received the ticket, and 2. affirmation that you are working on it.

If possible, personalize this response relative to the issue. If a customer filled out a form with drop-down category, this is easy. Additionally, you can train your reps to know which response to use.

Here's a great example based on an email I received from Jet.com that you can customize:

Response Template

Thanks for reaching out to Jet.com

Hey [CUSTOMER NAME],

Thank you for reaching out to us.

Our internal team has also noticed that this tracking number hasn't been updated yet. We're communicating with the merchant for an update, and as soon as we receive an update, we'll keep you informed. I appreciate your patience with this order.

If you have any further questions or concerns, let us know. We are here 24/7 and always happy to help. Thanks for being a loyal [COMPANY NAME] customer.

Take care, [YOUR NAME]

2. We're still working on your case.

Sometimes support cases can take a long time.

As the time lapse increases, your client's patience decreases. They might start wondering if their issue is even being worked on.

To help ameliorate this tendency, make sure you proactively follow-up with them letting them know you're still working hard to reach a resolution, and that you will let them know when there are updates. This shows you care.

Here's an example based on an email the LawnStarter team received. It communicates that the team is working on resolving the issue and appears as if they are advocating for us.

Response Template

Update on your issue

Hey [CUSTOMER NAME],

I wanted to update you before the weekend about the status of your issue.

Your [ISSUE] is in progress and is being worked on by our product team. We're prioritizing your request, and I will make sure this issue is resolved over the weekend. Thanks for your patience!

Take care, [YOUR NAME]

3. We've resolved your case.

Once a customer has indicated that an issue is resolved, it's important that you thank them for their patience.

This should come from the agent that was handling the case, and appear in the same thread, if possible. If this is not possible, be sure to indicate which support issue this is addressing.

Make this as friendly as possible (and customize it as needed).

Response Template

Following up on your request

Hi [CUSTOMER NAME],

Thanks for taking the time to speak about [ISSUE] today. I've updated your contact record in our system, so your subscription will renew by the end of the day.

Is there anything else I can help you with? Please don't hesitate to reply to this email or call me at [123-456-7891] if you have any other questions.

Best, [YOUR NAME]

4. Were you happy with the resolution?

Often there are issues that take time to resolve. For example, I recently placed an order that was lost in transit. The company issued a new date of expected delivery, and the package did not arrive.

Or, a customer may have had trouble using a feature of your product. Follow up with them a week later to make sure they were, in fact, able to use that feature.

Don't put the onus on your customers to check in with you -- instead, proactively reach out once you've solved the customer's problem to make sure it was satisfactory.

At LawnStarter, for example, occasionally a customer doesn't like the work their lawn pro does, so we offer to match them with a new one. Here's an example of us checking in to make sure they're satisfied that you can adjust:

Response Template

How's it going?

Hi [CUSTOMER NAME],

A couple weeks ago, you mentioned that you'd like to try out a new lawn care provider. My records show that you just had your first service with the new pro. How did it go?

Just wanted to make sure you're happy :)

Thanks, [YOUR NAME]

5. Were you satisfied with our customer support?

Once an issue is closed out, it is important to get feedback from your customers, usually in the form of a customer satisfaction survey.

Make this message straight to the point and friendly, but neutral. You don't want to lead your customers to a positive response. A survey that includes an overly positive lead in can skew your data.

Here's a template based on an example of a perfectly good response from Pitchbox. They even included the conversation history to help jog my memory.

Response Template

We'd love to hear what you think

Hi [CUSTOMER NAME],

We'd love to hear what you think of our customer service. Please take a moment to answer one simple question by clicking either link below:

Good, I'm satisfied

Bad, I'm unsatisfied

Here's a reminder of what your ticket was about:

[Details]

Thanks, [YOUR NAME]

6. We need more information to complete your order.

Sometimes, if a customer places an order online or automatically, your company's website or sales process might kick the order to the customer service team to confirm or update the order before processing it. So when you reach out and need the customer to take an extra step, make sure you're making your email clear, succinct, and easy for the customer to carry it out:

Response Template

Confirming your order

Hi [CUSTOMER NAME],

Thanks for placing your order with us on [DATE]. We need to confirm your payment method for the order, as the card you had on file was declined.

You can give me a call at [XXX-XXX-XXXX] to update this information, or you can change your preferences in your account profile now. Then, we'll be able to process and ship your order.

If you have any further questions or concerns, let us know! Thanks for your order from [COMPANY]

Take care, [YOUR NAME]

7. Here's how to do-it-yourself.

Inevitably, customers will reach out with a support issue that, in your opinion, shouldn't be a support case.

For example, a customer may report that a feature isn't working properly, when, in reality, they simply aren't using it properly.

Keep in mind that your product isn't self-explanatory, so this is your responsibility -- not theirs. Avoid talking down to them, no matter how simple the issue is.

In your response, do not simply link your customers to a knowledge base. Rather, include the instructions in the email itself, with screenshots as a visual aid. Make it as easy as possible for your customer, and include any other relevant information that will help them succeed with that feature. Here's an example you can template-ize:

Response Template

Service frequency change

Hi [CUSTOMER NAME],

I've gone ahead and switched your [SETTING] from weekly to bi-weekly, as requested. Your next service will be on [DATE].

If you need to change your frequency settings again, you can do that online here by navigating to "Support" and clicking "Change Frequency."

Let me know if there's anything else I can help with!

Cheers, [YOUR NAME]

8. We acknowledge this mistake. 

No matter how good your customer service team is, eventually you're going to make a mistake. It happens to every business. And, sometimes there's little you could've done to avoid it. In these cases, it's best to acknowledge your role in the situation and explain the steps you're taking to solve it. 

If the issue is small and easily fixed, then your team should resolve the problem before reaching out to the customer. You should still let the customer know about the error and discuss the steps you've taken to correct it. This will demonstrate transparency and build trust with your customer base. So long as the problem is resolved, customers will appreciate your honesty and dedication. 

If the problem is more complex, your team should reach out to the customer immediately. Apologize for any inconvenience you may have caused and assure them that you're taking action to fix the issue. These conversations tend to be sensitive, so it helps to maintain a calm, reasonable tone, like in the example below.

Response Template

Update on your case

Hello [CUSTOMER NAME],

I wanted to reach out with an update on your issue regarding [ISSUE TOPIC]. We regretfully admit that there has been an oversight made on your case. During our troubleshooting, we [EXPLANATION].

We acknowledge and apologize for how our mistake has created an inconvenience for you. We know that your goal is to [CUSTOMER'S GOAL] and we want to assure you that we are doing everything within our power to resolve this situation. Here are the steps we are taking right now:

[TROUBLESHOOTING STEPS]

Again, we are incredibly sorry for the inconvenience this has caused and will update you as soon as we have a resolution. Please feel welcome to reach out to us with any questions you may have on this information as we would be more than happy to help.

Talk to you soon,

[YOUR NAME]

9. Thanks for working with us! We're closing this ticket now. 

In some cases, customers may forget or ignore the case they have open with your service team. This email alerts the customer that you're closing the ticket unless they have any additional questions for your team. Be sure to offer that assistance as customers may have important follow-up questions regarding the work you have done for them. 

Begin with recapping the details of the case, then highlight that you're going to close the case. If you're using a ticketing system, let them know how they can reopen their ticket and contact your rep if needed. It's helpful to contact the same rep so the customer doesn't have to explain their case again if they need help with the same issue. 

Below is a message you can use to conclude your customer service cases. 

Response Template

Haven't heard from you

Hi [CUSTOMER NAME],

I'm reaching out about your case with us regarding [CASE TOPIC]. It's been [NUMBER OF DAYS] days since we've heard from you, so I wanted to reach out and let you know we are going to close this ticket. 

Please feel welcome to reopen this ticket or open a new one if you need any further assistance. 

Thanks again for working with us! 

[YOUR NAME]

10. We can’t do that, but here’s another option. 

Sometimes customers will make requests that your service team can’t fulfill. People have very specific needs and no single product or service can meet every customer’s expectations. However, when your offer isn’t enough to achieve their goals, you’ll need a backup resource to direct customers to.

This is where a community forum or knowledge base comes in handy. You can direct customers to these self-service resources where they can collaborate with other customers. This not only provides an alternative solution but it also encourages customers to communicate with one another. When customers work together, it stimulates customer advocacy which increases customer loyalty.

Here’s a template you can use when your team needs to transfer the customer to an alternative resource.

Product Request

Hi [CUSTOMER NAME],

Thanks for reaching out about [CUSTOMER’S REQUEST]. At this time, we don’t have the bandwidth to complete your request, but I wanted to reach out with some alternative resources to direct you to. I apologize that we can’t provide a direct solution, however, these options may be able to supply the solution you are looking for. 

To start, I would recommend taking a look at our community forum: [LINK TO FORUM]. There, you can find other users who may be experiencing a similar roadblock. 

If that resource doesn’t work, take a look at our knowledge base: [LINK TO KNOWLEDGE BASE]. We have some FAQ pages that may link to the answer you’re looking for.

Finally, if both those options fail, you can post your request on our ideas forum: [LINK TO FORUM]. This forum lets you pitch a product or service idea to our team. If our developers like it, they may consider it as a future product or feature. 

Please feel welcome to reach out to me with any questions you may have on these resources. I would be more than happy to help! 

Thanks,

[YOUR NAME]

How to Write Canned Responses for Customer Service that Work

Now that you've read some of the common canned responses, you're probably thinking about times you've gotten one of those responses. Chances are, it was not a good

Even the term "canned response" makes me cringe a little, quite frankly. That's because most companies put no care whatsoever into their responses.

The perfect canned response shouldn't sound canned at all.

Rather it should be tailored towards giving your customers the best experience possible. Remember, that's the goal of a canned response after all.

Here are a few guidelines for crafting high-quality canned responses:

1. Admit your shortfalls and empathize.

"When you're wrong, admit it quickly and emphatically." Dale Carnegie, How to Win Friends and Influence People.

Often customers are not happy with the product, and it's your company's fault.

Though the human gut reaction is to respond defensively, it's important to let your customers know that 1) you know your company fell short, and 2) you understand their pain.

Always think about how you want to be treated when you have to talk to support.

2. Avoid bland jargon.

There's nothing more disingenuous lines like "We are working diligently to resolve the issue you experienced," or "Your satisfaction is of utmost importance."

While these are grammatically sound, they are not believable. A good practice is writing how you speak.

3. Personalized, but not too personal.

How many times have you submitted a support request and received a response like "[Company] has received your support ticket #34850. Reply above this line"?

It makes you feel like a number.

Make sure your canned response addresses the customer by name and is somewhat tailored to the nature of the request.

However, don't go overboard attempting to make the message look like it was typed personally. For example, putting "Sent from my iPhone" in the footer is going way too far. Customers will see right through this charade.

4. Set expectations.

In cases where there is a next step, let the customer know what to expect.

Will you have an answer in a day, a week, a month? This is important for someone who uses your product.

5. Don't use a canned response when a personal response is needed.

There's a time and place for canned responses, but sometimes you should really type a personalized response that's unique to the situation -- especially in situations where your product or service really fell short.

Once you've set up your canned responses, the work is far from over. Make sure you periodically review the responses and how customers react. You'll likely discover responses that aren't drawing the ideal response, or responses that can be subcategorized and improved.

To learn more, read about how to achieve inbox zero next.

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 human-centered support

Originally published Jul 18, 2019 3:41:00 PM, updated July 18 2019

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