Using macros to speed up email response times

Emily  | 

If you’ve got a job involving some form of customer service, there’s no doubt you’re answering a lot of the same questions over and over.In email support, you can save yourself loads of typing (and boredom) by using macros. Macros, also known as canned responses, can really up your productivity and reduce response times.Instead of constantly composing minor variations on the same standard reply, it takes only a few keystrokes to add a block of text to your golden reply.

Casengo has a built-in macro functionality, making it fast and easy to get started.But before you get carried away: remember that your canned responses should not sound canned. After all, it's not enough to simply respond to customers – you have to help them!

Getting started with macros

You can use these very simple instructions to set up your macros in Casengo. Go to the admin site and select the ‘knowledge base’ tab, then select ‘macros’ from the left-hand panel. When you click on ‘add new macro’...

... you’ll get a lightbox in which you can enter the macro’s name and text:

That’s the technical part done. The tricky bit is using the macros well. Not the mechanics of it – all you need to do is click on ‘Macros’ beneath the reply field when you’re writing an email in Casengo, and choose the macro you want. The thing about macros is knowing when NOT to use them. They’re a bit like salt: great with the right things, but they’ll ruin everything if overused. Take it easy with your macros – they’re a fantastic tool, but use them wisely.

Avoiding the Macro Overuse Syndrome

Ever got a reply from a company’s customer service department that was so generic as to be pretty much completely useless? This blogger did, and the reply he got is so ridiculous it probably made him laugh through his tears of frustration. The company he approached showed clear signs of Macro Overuse Syndrome, a fairly widespread malady these days. It seems that many businesses have got the efficiency thing down perfectly, but have lost sight of the fact that efficiency and effectiveness are not the same thing. When you’re focusing on being as efficient as possible in your customer service emails, it can be hard not to go overboard.

When customer service reps are required to answer a certain number of emails per hour, and they are answering the same questions over and over, it makes sense to hit the macro key to cover the most commonly asked questions. The Syndrome threatens when you don’t read the question carefully enough (or at all), pick out a few top macros and – done! On to the next email. You’re blazing through your work and everybody’s happy. Except the customer.

Just a month ago, I myself used a web form to contact an appliance company, wanting to know whether they sold spare parts for my blender, and I included the model number with my question, because that’s the kind of girl I am. I wasn’t too pleased to receive a canned response which included a phone number I should call, telling me to be sure to quote the model number.

To make matters worse, the email included detailed information on the forms of payment they accepted (they made it clear they were ready to take my money), along with shipping times to a different country to the one I had mentioned (emphasising that they hadn’t really read my message). And yet I bet they thought they were doing a great job. After all, their response was really fast!

The moral of the story: compose your macros carefully, and – sorry to state the obvious here – read the customer’s message well. Be sure to give a relevant response, with the right ingredients. It’s better to have a number of short macros set up, rather than one big block of text which screams: “We didn’t really read your message!” Remember, you want to save your agents’ time and get back to customers quickly, but you do not want to lose sight of the bigger picture. And the bigger picture is your customers’ happiness.