Katerina Vinokhodova
Using response templates in support can be either a blessing or a curse. In this article, I will analyze three popular approaches to templates, and also tell you how our clients in UseDesk use templates in their work.
Companies don't have a centralized database with templates, and all the knowledge about how to respond to customers is passed on by word of mouth. This is how small teams work — they keep everything in mind and there are no problems. Almost.
Responding on the fly
— Tina, remind me please, what do we say to a customer when their payment in PayPal doesn't go through?
— Let them go to PayPal, Andrew.
— But wait, we stopped working with PayPal, didn't we?
— That's right. Then I guess they shouldn't go there.
— So where should they go?
— Well, I just got back from vacation, so I haven't read all the emails yet. Ask Sarah.
As long as 2 people are responsible for support, everyone is fully involved, and no one goes on vacation or on sick leave, the chain of knowledge is not interrupted. Not to bother with creating templates seems like a reasonable way to save time. The first time you need to record the procedure pops up when new employees appear. Somehow the knowledge must be passed on.

To do this, people usually create a Word document, and write response templates and actions that need to be performed in a given situation. Then the file is copied and passed out to the employees for personal use. Each person supplements and corrects it based on their personal work experience and their school grade in English.

This results in your team working like a herd of cats:

customer misinformation,
different answers to the same questions from clients,
monstrous grammatical errors.

Only a leader with political will can deal with this. All you need to do is create a shared knowledge base with proven templates. And prohibit using their own files.

If a company has started storing templates in Google Docs or Confluence, this is a good sign. The next step is to save employees from tedious copy-paste operations. The helpdesk will help you with this.

In UseDesk, the desired template or article from the knowledge base can be inserted with one click, and it is easy to choose from the desired category or by searching.

The company uses templates verbatim according to strict regulations. Template texts are checked even by lawyers — well, God forbid that. This situation is typical for "serious" companies — large B2B and B2C and government organizations. At best, the answers look like this:
Using templates in an official style

Dear customer!

Your request no. 123345 dated 05.04.2017 was reviewed by the x support staff. In response to your request, we provide the following information.

Due to ongoing work on the server, the personal account of site X was unavailable during the period from 01:00 to 10:00 05.04.2017. This break is authorized under clause 4.5.6 Of the agreement on the use of service X and did not violate the terms regulated by the company's internal procedures.

We apologize for any inconvenience.
Or at worst like this:
There are two problems with excessive formality in template responses.

Practical: the client has to wade through the official language to catch the meaning of what you want to convey to them. Official responses almost never solve the problem, but only state the fact of it, as in the first example, or do not answer the client's direct question, as in the second.

The second problem of hyper-officialness is the lack of humanity. People need attention and care. Mechanical responses in an official style create a feeling of indifference and greatly irritate the client.
The company consciously does not use templates. No mechanical answers, only a personal approach. At the same time, the support rating remains high — more than 95% of customers are satisfied with the responses. How can this be and who does it suit?

There are several factors that will allow you to forget about scripts:

1.Only complex non-standard questions reach support. Clients deal with simple ones on their own using the website, app, FAQ, or your smart bot in Telegram.

2. You employ people with brains and non-material motivation. The team members formulate their thoughts correctly, are able to find a way out of a non-standard situation, and crack a joke at the appropriate time. You want to grow cool professionals, so don't give them prepared answers at the start — let them learn.

3. You have no templates, but you have a client communication policy. The policy says which title you should use when addressing a client ("Sir" or "buddy"), whether you can write "Have a good one!" or if that's inappropriate, and so on. In addition to instructions for the tone of communication, there are also working algorithms for responses: what you can write, what you can not, how to act in a conflict situation, how to thank the client.

For example, when the customer is angry, you should:
1. Apologize and sympathize.

2. Take responsibility — WE are to blame.

3. Solve the problem, provide compensation.

If these three factors come together, you can throw out templates, loosen control, and give employees more room to maneuver when helping clients.
Not using any templates, because we can
The thing about templates in UseDesk is that they are not just text, but actions related to the template. After all, what it means to use a template is that the client has contacted us about a standard question, which we answer a million times a day. Therefore, it makes sense to record what this question was, so we will understand how many times we are asked about it, and if we can do something about it. This means adding a subject tag to the template. The second point is that if we answer according to the template, it means that we have changed the status of the solution from New to Completed. We add a status to the template so that we don't have to select it manually during the response process.
How UseDesk clients use templates
Our clients use templates wisely
These two simple steps have helped our client, the Moneyman company. First, they figured out what clients' requests often got formulaic answers. Then, special rules were developed to send automatic responses to the most standard questions. As a result, the support staff's workload was reduced by 50%, and they only deal with really difficult situations now.
Katerina Andrusevich
ex CEO at
"Any manager starts with response templates for support specialists copied to a Word file. Do you remember the joke about the man who was put in a room with a banana tree? There was a stick in the corner of the room, but instead of thinking, taking the stick and knocking down the bananas with it, the man violently shook the tree. And when someone stopped him and suggested that he think about how to get bananas differently, he replied, "Why think? Need to shake!"

Some managers still shake trees, instead of using a suitable tool that's in the corner of the room. And that's sad.

I suggest using modern methods of templating responses for support specialists. Moreover, now the number of cool helpdesks is off the charts. For example, UseDesk allows you to customize the solution for your specific needs, so you are happy from the very beginning.

Think, don't shake. That's ridiculous.
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