A Complete Guide To Using Preset Or Canned Responses In Your Live Chat Software



We just presume that you have integrated the code for integrating the chat software in your website in the appropriate pages. You will be able to engage your visitors in chat as soon as you have integrated the code for the chat interface. One of the key features that you will find in almost all chat software products is canned responses or preset responses. A well-trained chat agent will know how to make use of this life chat feature effectively and impress the visitors that are engaging in chat. Here is a complete guide to using the canned responses to in your live chat software.


What is a canned response or preset response?


Canned responses as the name suggests are predefined responses to a set of predefined questions. Here you store the responses to questions that you anticipate your chat visitors will ask you and create a template based answer, which you can send it directly or edit and send it to the chat visitor.


Why canned or preset responses?


If you had taken the time to review reliable and popular live chat software tools, you would notice that all of them would have this feature common in them. Why is this one of the standard features? What is the importance of this feature? Generally speaking, when your chat visitor asks a question, you will need to understand the question and give an appropriate response to the query at hand. In the live chat scenario, you will be typing the response or your answer. Typing the response will take some time and you are keeping the visitor waiting for your response. If you are a slow typist then the duration of the wait increases this could make your visitor get frustrated and get dissatisfied with your response rate. What if you already know what questions are to be expected from your chat visitor? Would it not make more sense to keep the responses ready so that you do not start the typing process after the visitor has posed the question but just send the response immediately after you receive the query without taking the time to type the response? This is where canned responses become very practical feature in any live chat software. You will be able to improve your response rate by reducing the time required for typing the responses. You will be able to handle more chats in a specified time window. This will increase the overall productivity of the chat agent while at the same time enhancing the customer satisfaction levels.


Tips for setting up the canned response


Though canned response is a standard feature in most of the live chat software programs, not all companies make correct use of this feature. If you want to make the best use of this feature, you need to put in some thinking and do a bit of homework while setting up the canned responses.
Before you get to the software to add your canned responses, you need to have a brainstorming session with your chat support team. The presumption here is that the chat support team is conversant with the products you are selling, the services you are offering, your brand policies, the nature of your operations, ordering process, delivery timelines, etc. During the brain storming session, depending on the nature of your business, create following categories namely, Presales, Post sales and Ongoing Support.

The idea behind creating these categories is list all possible questions in these phases of the buying cycle. Regardless of whether you are selling some products or offering some services and regardless of whether your operation is online or offline, these three phases or stages are inevitable in your relationship with your customers. Now the role of your team is to list all possible questions that your customers are likely to have in each of these categories.

You will have to get into the shoes of your customers while listing the questions. The reason why you need to pretend like a customer or the end user is that they do not have access to the insider information to which you have access to and that is why they have loads of questions. Exhaust all possible questions and do not leave out any question as too simple or unimportant. If your visitor has a question then no matter how you judge it, it is certainly important to them to get the right response from you. Making your list of questions as comprehensive as possible is one of the keys to success here.

Once you have listed all the questions and categorized the questions, you will need to create responses to be stored. When you are answering these questions, provide them with clear, to the point and precise answers. Do not write long stories. If a response should have many points to be communicated then number the points in the sequential order. Review the responses, as many times as possible to ensure that it could not be misunderstood. Avoid using vague responses because such responses will only irritate the customers.

One of the reasons why you should keep your responses short is that, the chat interface normally opens in a specified size and long responses will result in endless scrolling which could lead to poor user experience. You need to pay attention to all such minute factors when you are setting up your chat software. You will need to test all the responses in a trial chat so that you know how exactly they appear to the user and whether it is easy to read. When you are reviewing the responses you should also pay attention to typographical mistakes and make appropriate corrections to the responses. As you have the option to correct such mistakes, overlooking this factor or ignoring it completely will make you look very unprofessional as a brand.

We have mentioned that all the responses have to be categorized as presales, post sales and ongoing support. It will also be a good idea to create sub-categories under each main category so that you can store all the responses in an organized way. You will be able to retrieve the responses fast only when you follow some kind structure or a systematic approach. If you are not organized then you will take more time searching the responses in your canned area to which, typing the responses each time will prove to be faster. You will know what we are talking about only in real time chat situation. That is why it becomes very crucial to do your homework carefully so that you can beef up your canned response section fully and correctly for functional efficiency.


Training Of The Chat Agents


It is not enough to have an exhaustive canned responses section with impressive responses. What is even more important is to use them correctly during the live chat for which your chat support agents have to be trained well. Engage in several test chats to ensure that all your chat agents are familiar with the canned responses section and that they can readily retrieve the responses from the canned area.


Regular Updating Is Required


Do not think that once you have created the canned responses, they remain frozen. Canned responses are dynamic and you need to continually work on improving the database of canned response so that your efficiency level increases continually.

When we talk of updating of the canned responses, it could mean addition of new responses based on the new set of questions that you are facing from your customers or it could be corrections or modifications to the existing responses because your terms and conditions have changed or because the nature of your operations have changed.


Keeping Every Member Of The Team Up To Date


Whenever you are making changes to your canned responses send out a mail indicating clearly the changes made to keep all the members of the team fully informed. As the live chat software is a cloud-based program, the canned responses section will be commonly accessible to all the members with appropriate login credentials. Each member is not required to make changes to the chat interface therefore. What is important however is to ensure that all the members are fully aware of all the changes that are taking place in the canned response section.

Those who have experience in offering live chat support will know how important these factors are. You could get yourself into anything from mild customer irritation to massive liability issues if you are not cautious. You should know how to make the best use of the features that are available with the chat software so that you get the maximum out of each one of these features and in particular the canned response feature of your chat software.


Mistakes To Avoid While Setting Up & Using Canned Response


No doubt that canned response is such a phenomenal feature of live chat software platforms. However, there are certain mistakes that you should be careful enough to avoid.

Firstly, you need to remember that the only goal of canned response is to improve the efficiency of the chat feature that you have integrated in your website so that your chat agents are able to handle more number of chats in a given period. It is important to train your agents not to overdo it. They should be able to make the chat experience as human as possible so that your chat visitors are not feeling that they are interacting with a machine. The whole idea of adding the chat feature to a website is to add that human touch that is missing in the virtual online dealings. If your chat agents overdo with canned responses without really paying attention to the details of the questions that are being posed by the visitors then it will defeat the entire purpose.

There could be number of reasons why your chat agents are all the time hiding behind the canned responses.

1. They could have poor typing speed. As a result, they will be looking for an easier way out so that they could complete the chat with the visitor as quickly as possible. Here the intention is not to help the visitor with their queries but to get it done with as early as possible. The solution here is to recruit people with good typing speed. Do not hire people that are not familiar with the use of computers or have problems in typing fast.

2. Another common reason why some chat agents use canned responses more than what is required is that they have limited understanding of your products or services. Therefore, they try to take an escape route via canned response rather than updating themselves or familiarizing themselves with your brand information. The solution here is to train your agents aggressively before deploying them. You need to make sure that all your chat agents get through qualifying chats under simulated conditions or else you will be putting your brand reputation at risk. If you are hiring a third party service provider to handle the chat facility for your website make sure that they meet these standards.

3. It could also be that inexperienced chat agents are afraid of making mistakes in the chat with the visitors so to play safe, they use the canned responses and try to complete the entire chat only with the canned responses. When you are recruiting the chat agents you should look for experienced candidates. Even if you are outsourcing the chat to a chat service provider, you should get the guarantee from your service provider that they will use only experienced agents to offer support for your website.

In case you are supporting multiple websites through a single chat interface, you need to be all the more cautious not to get mixed up with the canned responses. Ideally, it is best to integrate the chat interface independently for each website. It will avoid unnecessary confusions.

Not using descriptive titles for each canned response is another blunder many support desks make. When you are storing your canned responses, you need to keep the retrieval challenges in mind. Moreover, it is important that even someone new is able to retrieve the responses just by looking at the response title. If you use the wrong titles or inappropriate titles then you will end up sending wrong responses because in most instances the chat agents will not be checking the responses fully but just double click the responses to send it across to the visitor. You need to be therefore very careful in creating the right titles. It is also important to conduct regular audits to the canned responses to ensure that everything is in place and that there are no changes made accidentally.

Not having any documentation of the canned responses and their history could be another mistake that most companies and chat support desks are not even aware. Whatever you say in your chat is like sending out written communication to your customers. Therefore you need to systematically keep the information in your file on the history of the canned responses. They should be dated and each revision should also be dated so that you know when the changes are made. Avoid using all caps in your canned responses. Remember that it is a formal communication and using all caps is like screaming at someone. Always use appropriate sentence case. Avoid lazy approach while setting up the canned responses.

Do not use any short forms and acronyms in the canned responses, as not everyone will be familiar with the short forms or acronyms. If you are using any acronyms, make sure to provide the abbreviations. What you consider as very common or simple acronym need not be so to your visitor.

Never send out the canned responses without fully reading the question asked. One of the common mistakes made by chat agents here is that they have a partial glance or just pick on few familiar words in the question and rush to retrieve the response from the canned section.

If you need time to retrieve some information use on hold messages. At the same time do not use the on hold messages too frequently.

Most importantly, put yourself in the shoes of the chat visitor. Will you be happy with the responses that you are receiving from the chat agent if the same canned response is used for that question your visitor is asking?

Your main intention should be to help the chat visitor in the best way possible so that they are impressed with your professionalism and with your customer friendly approach. Only then you will be able to convert the leads into customers. Every visitor that comes for chat is a prospective lead. How you culture that lead is very important and it will affect the bottom line of your organization directly. With careful planning, stringent execution and periodic audits you will be able to continually perfect the quality of your live chat support.