This is a guest post from Marc Prosser.
The expansion of communication channels has made it easier than ever for people to contact your company.
Most companies offer the ability to reach them by phone or e-mail. Many companies, even small ones, offer live chat functionality on their website.
With all these communication channels, many companies feel overwhelmed by inbound requests.How can a company provide a quality responses (a good experience) while not having their sales and customer service cost skyrocket?
The answer is developing quality template responses and giving employees the freedom to personalize responses or not use them at all.
Here is the basic scenario: You have a quality sales and customer service team that is overworked. The compensation structure that you have in place rewards their productive behavior. In other words, your employees the intelligence and motivation to do a good job. If you provide them a tool to do their job more efficiently, why wouldn’t they use it?
A template response is just a tool that saves your sales and service professionals the time of writing the full response themselves.
There is no reason why a response to a question needs to be freshly written each time a client or potential client asks it. However, the same general question can be asked many different ways and the specific details of the question may vary.
Just sending out a pre-written response, may seem impersonal and leave the person receiving the response uncertain how the response applies to their specific circumstance. A good response is personalized and answers the exact questions being asked.
Thats why I recommend encouraging your professionals to personalize and tweak templated responses for the specific questions. This can be as simple as adding a couple sentences before tpasting in templated response or modifying a sentence or two in the templated response.
In others words, templates can empower your employees to provide better, more detailed answers while saving the time of creating a response from scratch.
Here are some keys to creating good templated responses:
1) Have Templates To Frequently Asked Questions
If Your Employees Don’t Think There Will Be A Templated Response, They Are Unlikely To Search For Them. (For example, have sales manager go through all the e-mails that have come in over a two week period and count how often questions appear. Write responses to questions that come up more than twice or more.)
2) Make Responses Easy To Find, Educate Employees On Using Them
You can spend days on writing up templates, however, you should put a great deal of effort in figuring out how to make it easy for sales and customer service people to quickly and easily find the right response. This means giving responses very descriptive titles, organizing them into clear categories and training employees on how to find them.
3) Make Responses Reasonable In Length & Get Input From Sales and Support During The Writing Process
There is temptation when writing template is to put together a very long, detailed response. However, shorter responses more likely be read and can feel more like the are coming from a “real” person. While the specific question will dictate the length of the response, I would suggest that template response be four to twelve sentences long. In putting together responses get input from sales. They have a great deal of experience with what type of information clients want and how to deliver that information in a way clients can easily understand. If sales and customer service have input in crafting the responses, they will feel more positive about using them.