8 Canned Message Best Practices for Live Chat Excellence

January 24th, 2017 | Kevin Gao | Live Chat
8 Canned Message Best Practices for Live Chat Excellence

Every day, your agents type out hundreds of messages to customers in need. What if you could introduce a tool to help make saving the customer’s day just a little easier?

If used effectively, canned messages can help revolutionize your support team’s live chat process—they act as the trusted sidekicks to your live chat support heroes. Canned messages give agents more time, less stress, and greater peace of mind; it allows your team members to focus on resolution with confidence.

Canned messages can:

  • Provide appropriate and well-vetted responses
  • Reduce training time
  • Increase agent confidence and efficiency
  • Enhance service quality and consistency

The key to canned message success is to create a collection of unique and personalized responses that communicate effective support. Misusing canned messages can actually hinder your support operations instead of helping it—carelessly and inconsistently using generic canned messages reflects poorly on your team, no matter how good they are. But if you follow our best practices below, canned messages can reduce your operation costs and improve the overall customer experience.

Utilizing Canned Messages in Live Chat 100

[Free Download] Utilizing Canned Messages in Live Chat 100

When support volume is large, canned messages can save agents a great deal of time, and as a result, enhance productivity. Learn how to use canned messages more efficiently and constantly improve your message library.

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  1. Bring Canned Messages to the Forefront

    If you want canned messages to work for your team, then you have to start by investing time and energy into developing them. You need to have a clear idea of not only what works for your company, but what doesn’t work. Bring canned messages to the forefront so they can make your support game strong:

    • Involve your entire organization.

      It’s important to get feedback from a range of professionals within your organization. How does your support team feel about your new efforts? Can members from other departments offer some constructive criticism on your new and existing canned messages?

    • Talk about canned messages in monthly or weekly team meetings.

      What ideas can team members contribute? How can you challenge team members to come up with new ideas, as well as give feedback on how current canned messages are working?

    • Answer the question: How can our canned messages convey our customer service culture?

      What words or phrases best display your brand of customer service? Analyze current marketing and communication materials — do they carry a playful or professional tone? Let your company’s voice come through your canned messages.

    • Release early, release often.

      This popular software development saying applies to your canned message plan. It’s important to continually test new ideas as they come to your team.

  2. Leverage the Power of Senior Support Agents

    Senior support agents have years’ worth of customer service experience behind them. Involve your senior agents in your canned message development efforts and make sure each message is carefully reviewed by them before going live. You can also ask the senior agents for suggestions when evaluating your canned message success. Do they have any insight on how these messages may or may not be working?

    Ask them specific questions like the following to help guide your efforts:

    • Are you using the canned messages frequently?
    • When do you find canned messages most useful?
    • What would you like a canned message for?
    • How do customers react to canned messages?
    • What possibly can we do to improve the customer experience with canned messages?
  3. Organize Your Canned Messages

    For maximum effectiveness, it’s important to have canned messages carefully organized for different purposes, for example:

    • Holds
    • Transfers
    • Greetings
    • Apologies
    • Feedback requests
    • Special deals and sales
    • Proactive chat messages

    It’s crucial to organize all of your canned messages under appropriate categories, as well as create shortcuts that make it simple for your agents to call upon the right messages as necessary.It’s crucial to organize all of your canned messages under appropriate categories, as well as create shortcuts that make it simple for your agents to call upon the right messages as necessary.

    Perhaps your agents spend most of their time addressing requests related to products. In this case, to organize your canned messages effectively, you might choose to organize your messages by products. Then you could add subcategories for each product category, creating a highly systemized canned message library for your organization. Additionally, you could create special shortcuts for the most frequently called upon canned messages for easy retrieval. Review metrics and speak to your agents to organize your canned messages for optimal recall.

  4. Personalize Your Canned Messages

    Personalization is the key to developing good canned messages. According to a Digital Trends report, “73% of consumers prefer to do business with brands that use personal information to make their shopping experiences more relevant.” Additionally, research shows that our brains have unique responses when we hear the sound of our own names.

    If your live chat application supports it, create a command within your canned messages to address customers by name.

    For example:

    “Hi John, how may I help you?” is much better than “Hi, how may I help you?”

    Depending on the implementation of the software, it may look like:

    “Hi @VisitorName, how may I help you?”

    Or:

    “Hi {VisitorName}, how may I help you?”

    Work with your live chat provider to implement personalized solutions for canned messages. In addition to the customer’s name, you can use geographical data, account data and browsing history to create highly customized canned messages. The only limits are you imagination and the data provided by your live chat application.

  5. Make the Conversation Natural

    Sometimes when you try to craft natural-sounding canned messages, they end up coming out stilted and awkward instead. Writer Leslie O’Flahavan wrote about a bizarre customer service experience she had with Starbucks—the whole exchange really could have been fixed with some editing and careful, real-time agent monitoring.

    To avoid creating the kind of canned messages that have people scratching their heads, take the following steps:

    • Don’t allow canned messages to dominate.

      A healthy combination of free text and canned messages is always appreciated by customers who want clear and personal interactions with agents.

    • Train operators to review all responses.

      Canned messages are easy to forget; since you don’t type them out while chatting, they don’t always stick in your memory. Whether agents step away for a moment or receive new transfers, they should always review the last thing that was sent to a customer before continuing the conversation. This prevents awkward or redundant phrases from being sent.

    • Hire a professional editor.

      Whether you use your company’s internal communications team or hire a contract-based worker, have someone with an eye for language take a look at your canned messages before they’re used on customers.

    • Review transcripts regularly.

      A big way to catch awkward canned messages is to review how they work (or don’t work) in chat. Monitor transcripts that utilize new canned messages to see if they come off as naturally as you hoped.

  6. Monitor Canned Message Metrics

    To find detailed metrics concerning canned messages, use your live chat provider’s report features to generate reports over a set period of time (for example, a day, week, or month). Monitoring certain metrics can help you optimize canned message use, particularly if you track:

    • Which messages are used most frequently, and which messages are used least frequently.

      Over time you will notice certain phrases just don’t make the cut and need to be revised or removed.

    • Which agents use canned messages most frequently.

      You can interview these agents to figure out why they find canned messages useful, and when and how they choose to use them.

    • When canned messages are most frequently used.

      Is there a correlation between the number of chat requests and how frequently canned messages are used? In which situations are canned messages most commonly used? Is there any way you can create more specific messages for these situations?

    • Canned message utilization and customer satisfaction rate.

      Can you find a correlation between these two metrics? Track chats that have canned messages in them, and compare the feedback score to those of chats without canned messages.

  7. Open a Suggestion Channel

    In order to keep maximizing and improving your canned messages game, keep a suggestion channel open for all team members to contribute to (especially while you are still refining your canned message process). Not only will it improve the quality of your canned messages, but it will motivate your team to see this as a support-wide project.

    This can be for canned message ideas, as well as personal insights on how current messages are performing. How you choose to set up a suggestion channel will depend on the size and resources of your team. If your team is very large, for example, you may require a more sophisticated suggestion channel, like an internal communication application; on the other hand, small teams may be able to email suggestions directly to a supervisor. To get started, create a suggestion channel using on of the following:

    • Open document or spreadsheet
    • Email account designated for suggestions
    • Internal ticketing system
    • Physical “Suggestion Box”
    • Internal communication apps (For example, Yammer, Campfire, or Slack)

    Put someone in charge of the suggestion channel. The best ideas can be brought to team meetings for review, or circulated through internal newsletters for feedback. The idea here is to include every team member as a valued participant in your canned message creation process.

  8. Keep Improving Your Canned Messages

    Your canned message plan is not a one-shot project. Although you may feel after a few months that you have come up with a solid strategy, your work doesn’t end there. Your canned messages must evolve to keep up with changing industries and growing customer needs.

    Over time, internal and external changes should be considered when revising your canned messages. Look for change in the following areas:

    • Products and policies.

      If you have any canned messages that specifically reference certain products and policies, it’s important to keep up and make sure that these messages do not become outdated.

    • Brand and Company Culture.

      Certain catchphrases and terms are great for communicating a brand through support. But if things change internally, your canned messages need to evolve to reflect the new company image.

    • Target Demographics.

      A change in your target demographics could affect the language your live chat agents use. Are your new demographics from a different geographical region or generation than the previous demographics you targeted? What phrases or words can communicate to your new demographics?

    • Live chat application.

      Shortcuts or commands for personalization may change due to application updates and releases. Is your team up-to-date?

    All of these factors contribute to how your canned messages should evolve. Whether it’s a small update or a big company change, keep ongoing notes to make sure your canned messages don’t grow stale or outdated.

The above tips can help prevent impersonal canned messages and bad implementation strategies that devalue the customer experience. Ultimately, the key is to treat canned messages as a dynamic, ongoing project that reflects your live chat values and goals. With the steps outlined above, you’ll begin your journey toward a quality canned message strategy that simplify your agents’ support process, and keeps customer satisfaction at the core of your support team’s mission.

Utilizing Canned Messages in Live Chat 100

[Free Download] Utilizing Canned Messages in Live Chat 100

When support volume is large, canned messages can save agents a great deal of time, and as a result, enhance productivity. Learn how to use canned messages more efficiently and constantly improve your message library.

Download Now

About 

Kevin Gao is the founder and CEO of Live Chat 100 and Comm100. With over 10 years' hands-on experience as an entrepreneur, he's always ambitious to revolutionize the way of online customer service and communication. Connect with Kevin on LinkedIn.

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