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How To Use Email Response Templates For Customer Service

How To Use Email Response Templates For Customer Service

Top customer service teams respond to emails quickly. How can email response templates help service teams work more efficiently?

When a customer sends in an email with a question or complaint, the ideal response time is approximately “yesterday.”

Even though it may seem less immediate than making a phone call to a contact centre, the best customer service teams treat email messages with the same urgency and importance. How do they do it? By reducing some of the most repetitive parts of the conversation.

Of course, working in customer service is always going to involve some degree of explaining the same things over and over again, but ideally you want agents to focus their time on the most difficult problems. That’s where email response templates come in.

No matter what it says, a good email response template accomplishes a couple of things at once:

  1. You’re acknowledging to the customer their message has not been lost in the ether somewhere.
  2. You understand the problem they’re having, or the issue they want to have addressed.
  3. There will be more information or support to come — and soon.

Using templates ensures that customers sending an email aren’t facing the equivalent of the annoying hold music they would hear if they got stuck waiting for their call to be answered in a contact centre. For agents, meanwhile, it provides a way to manage the queue of customers they need to help more effectively.

The biggest risk with email response templates is that a customer reads them and finds them so generic that it feels as though they’re not being treated appropriately. A good template, in other words, should not seem like a template to the recipient.

This requires being thoughtful about the kinds of templates you create, which in turn means being very conscious of all the customer situations where an email template might be required. Here are some dos and don’ts:

Do: Confirm Or Clarify The Details Of The Customer Issue

When you’re struggling to manage a product or service issue on top of fielding work tasks or managing kids, it’s easy to send off an email that doesn’t fully explain your problem. The same goes if a customer is angry — they may write an email without delving into enough specifics.

Using the data you’ve gathered via tools such as Service Cloud, create email templates to speak to the most common troubleshooting issues coming to your agents. That way you can instantly respond based on keywords with a message that says something like,

“Thank you for contacting us. We’re here to help. So to confirm, you’re [having this particular problem or issue]? If so, you could try the following fixes, or we can connect you directly with a live agent to help further.”

Don’t: Assume The Customer Will Already Understand Your Processes

Imagine an unhappy customer that wants to return a product, to get a refund, or both. An email template that says, “We’re sorry you were unsatisfied. Simply send it back to us and await next steps” won’t cut it.

You should create email templates that work through typical scenarios such as returns and refunds as thoroughly as possible. This includes timelines for when a refund will be processed, any additional information they might need to provide and any caveats (such as when a customer will receive a credit instead of a full refund, for example).

Make sure you also include opportunities to save or repair the relationship by offering to help customers find a similar or better product, or to give more feedback around their decision.

Do: Empower Customers Through Self-Service Whenever Possible

The best agents are often masters of diplomatically and politely pointing customers towards answers to questions that were practically staring them in the face.

Many companies have online owner’s manuals on their website, for instance, or tutorial videos and other resources that could deal with whatever a customer wrote in about. This also includes self-service portals and online customer communities.

An email template works particularly well here, because even if the customer doesn’t have time to use a self-service resource right away, they have what they’ll need in their inbox and can find it without doing any digging on your site later on.

Don’t: Overlook The Opportunities Presented By Your Most Satisfied Customers

People are innately good. They may get upset when products and services don’t work when they expect, but they can be equally demonstrative when they’ve had a good customer experience.

When a customer takes the time to write in and offer positive feedback about your products, or appreciation for the way a member of your team treated them, it should be acted upon immediately.

While you may want to follow up with a formal and customized response later on, you can use an email response template to instantly convey your gratitude and suss out whether they might be willing to take it a step further.

The template could include an invitation to write a review, for example, participate in a case study or even just share their feedback publicly on your social media channels. Make sure to include links that make it easy to do any of these activities.

Do: Conduct Periodic Assessments Of Your Email Response Template Portfolio

As you get more used to working with templates, you could build a sizeable collection that frees up your agents and boosts customer satisfaction at the same time.

The longer you’re in business, however, the more nuanced and specific your customer service experience needs to become. That means you should set dates to discuss with your team any ways in which existing response templates should be changed, and if any new ones need to be created.

Email response templates save time and effort, but in the end they should provide as much value as a live conversation. Customers won’t simply read them — they’ll remember them the next time they decide to spend with your company.

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