Templates are a good starting place, but most of the time they are too generic. In this video, learn how to make templates customizable so that your team can write helpful, personalized customer service emails.
- When your Granny sends you a sweater for your birthday, you always write her a thank you note, right? But, you don't write, "Dear Relative, "thank you for the item you sent me." No, you write her a customized thank you note that says, "Dear Granny Rose, thank you so much "for the red turtleneck sweater "you sent me for my birthday." In a way, writing a thank you note to your Granny is like customizing a template. You have the thank you note template in your head and you customize it for each relative who sends you a birthday gift.
Companies build their template libraries over time and the templates are written by a variety of authors from a variety of departments. Templates are designed to help you write more quickly. They include boilerplate information, like the contact center's phone number or the return policy so you won't have to type it every time and they're used to make sure your team will provide consistent information to customers. If we all use the templates, we'll all tell customers the same thing.
One thing's for sure, a template can be written to make customizing easy. Templates that have prompts, placeholders and white space make it easy for you to free-text in your reply. Let me show you an example. Our customer, Max Banks, wrote about a problem with his air conditioner. Here's a template that includes the prompts, placeholders and white space. Let's see how to use it to write a specific personal reply to Max.
This is an example of a placeholder. The words inside the brackets hold the place for the customizes free text writing you will add when you respond to the customer. As an email writer, you will have some decisions about what to write, here, so the info inside the brackets is just holding a place for you to write, not telling you exactly what to write. This is an example of a prompt. Inside the brackets, the template prompts you to customize the response. You would insert the model number of the customer's air conditioning unit and delete the brackets.
This prompt coaches you to include information that will assure the customer that you read his email and are responding specifically to him. If the customer has told you where he lives or if you have his address in the customer data base, this placeholder will remind you to look up the closest retail store and mention it, here. If you want to go the extra mile, do a search for his closest store and add a hyperlink to the results. The brackets around this prompt remind you that you can delete one or both words if they don't apply to this particular customer.
You could also leave both words in, in your response. For this email to Max, you would leave both these words in the template. The customer didn't provide information that would suggest you should delete either pets or allergies. So, back to that red sweater Granny Rose sent you for your birthday, it may not be your style, but you'll still write her a specific thank you note. You should do the same for your customers. Using templates that are easy to customize will allow you to do just that.
- Reading emails carefully
- Anticipating follow-up questions
- Answering all of the customer's questions
- Handling difficult questions
- Explaining your process to the customer
- Paraphrasing the customer's situation
- Acknowledging the customer's feelings
- Apologizing when appropriate
- Avoiding clichéd language
- Demonstrating empathy and sincerity in your writing
- Building rapport