Three ways to give automated and templated customer communications more impact

There are very few organisations that aren’t actively trying to improve the customer experience they offer. Yet there’s an element of the customer journey that’s often neglected – and that’s the automatic messages and/or templated emails and letters customers receive once they become part of a process.

The process may be an online purchase. If it is, it’s likely your company will have a series of emails that automatically lets your customer know that the process is working for them:

  1. Thanks for your order
  2. Your order is making its way to you
  3. We delivered your order

Or it could be more complex. For example, if your “customer” is applying for a job with you – and you need to let them know if they’ve been successful at various stages and if they need to give you certain types of information.

Then there are the communications that are templated, rather than automated. For example, if you know that customers contact you frequently to ask about your policy on reducing plastic waste, you may have a templated email or letter with blanks to fill in. Usually, these templated communications are customisable so that a customer service person can make them feel more relevant to the person’s query.

The object of these automated and templated communications is to speed up the process of keeping customers informed.

Done well, they safeguard reputation and save your organisation money. Done less well, they cause confusion for customers and add to your costs – both in terms of reputation and on the bottom line. Because confused customers will call you to get clarification – or they’ll hit social media to see if someone else can help them to understand.

So here are our three top pieces of advice on creating automated and templated customer service communications:

1. Remember, your customer doesn’t care about your process

Yes, your automated and templated emails and letters are there because of a process. But remember, your customer doesn’t want to know about the process. So when you start to create one of these communications, don’t tell them about how they’re moving down the line. Think instead about what your customer wants to know, and write about that first.

Too much process
Do something like this instead…
Your order is currently being processed and will be prepared for dispatch in the next 2 days.  
We’re getting your order ready for you – it’ll be with you really soon.                      

2. Write like you speak

Do you love spending your time reading emails about things you just ordered? Or the update you just made to your pension or insurance policy? Of course you don’t – and neither does your customer. So make it easy for them to understand what you’re saying. Get rid of any jargon or technical language you might use when you’re talking to colleagues. Get to the point, and don’t use lots of long words. How would you describe what you’re saying out loud to a friend? These are the words to use.

3. Make friends with the IT team

Your IT team – or whoever looks after the technical side of automated messages in your organisation – needs to be your BFF. Why? Because you want to see what your templates look like when your customer receives them. You want to be able to tweak and change your templates easily while you’re getting them right – rather than having to go through a process of change requests. It’s not at all uncommon for customer service teams to never see how templated and automated customer service communications look to a customer. Don’t make this mistake. Instead, make friends with your IT colleagues.

The whole point of this is creating communications that feel personal and trustworthy to your customers. Of course, they’re unlikely to think that you hand-craft each communication they receive – but everyone appreciates considered, nicely-worded communications that don’t take up any more of our time than necessary. Good luck!

You can find out more about how we support contact centres here.

You might also find these links interesting:

The art of creating brilliant customer service email templates

How to frame customer service emails and letters positively

Is it time to Kon Mari your customer service templates?

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