Use pre-defined responses with care.

Pre-defined responses are great. They make email support go faster, they allow customer service representatives to give consistent answers easily, and they are usually more detailed and better written than an average response created on the fly. However, they have to be used with care and consideration. When pre-defined responses are abused, they lose any and all value that they might have and the process of them losing their value happens very quickly. To work, the people using pre-defiend responses need to keep these things in mind:

Only use them when they answer the exact question. A pre-defined response can only be used if it answers the exact question the customer is asking. “Kind of similar” doesn’t cut – it has to be the exact question the pre-defined is intended to answer or the pre-defiend has to be modified to fit the question if appropriate. Companies that keep tabs on what customers ask have no trouble developing pre-defined responses for the most frequently asked questions and requests, but the employees using them need to pay attention.

They can and should be modified. Pre-defiend power users know that they can use pre-defined responses to serve as an addition to their existing emails. They combine the pre-defined with “custom” information written for that particular reply and the result is a more complete, better written answer. It still saves time and it still helps.

They can and should be updated. Just like any other help content, pre-defined responses should be updated and edited on a regular basis. Who can update them might vary from company to company, but the process should be simple and quick regardless. Keep them up to date with the most useful answers and advice and ensure that they are reviewed regularly for spelling, grammar, and “friendliness.”

Responding with just a pre-defined can often be rude (especially when it doesn’t answer the question). Just remember to take care and actually think about the answer that the customer is looking for. If a pre-defined can answer it, great. If it can’t, be prepared to actually put some work into it and find out what can.