There’s nothing more infuriating than trying to solve an easy problem with the so-called help of an automated phone service bot. You wind up talking in circles and the bot has no other option than to keep regurgitating the same options over-and-over-and-over. And while the business you contacted didn’t intend to frustrate you, the whole debacle likely put a sour taste in your mouth—because, quite frankly, it would’ve just been easier if there was a real human on the other line to talk to.
Automation and AI are not fix-alls. Customers demand and crave personalized experiences to offset the rigidity of AI. Ideally, AI and automation should simply enable seamless connectivity between the different phases of a customer journey. But more often than not, companies rely on AI to do the heavy lifting.
Customers notice when this happens. They don’t get the answers they need and your business gets a bad rap for being impersonal and unapproachable. Instead of depending on AI to communicate with customers for you, templatized messages offer a happy medium between the time-saving appeal of automation and the tailored-to-fit impression customers want.
Autoresponder vs Templatized Responses vs Auto-Responses
So what makes templatized responses different than an autoresponder? They might sound similar, but in actuality, they’re quite different.
- Autoresponder: A pre-written response that automatically sends to a point of contact. Autoresponders serve two purposes—they can automatically answer an email or be automatically sent to email subscribers based on a specific schedule or frequency. Autoresponders are great for email marketing, highly predictable text exchanges, and out-of-office replies.
- Templatized Response: Templatized responses are also pre-written. Unlike autoresponders, templatized responses can be customized and need to be manually sent to a point of contact. The beauty of templatized responses is that they don’t force you to sacrifice personalization for the sake of efficiency. That said, some software programs have templates that automatically populate, which is why you’ll often hear people refer to templates as auto-responses or auto-replies.
Benefits of Templatized Responses
While templatizing certain responses will take a little bit of time upfront, it saves major amounts of time long-term. Imagine how much time you’d save if you could respond to a Facebook or Instagram message about your business location with a templatized response. Overall, this approach:
- Saves you time—Pre-written responses to frequently asked questions allow you to respond quickly to new leads and existing customers alike
- Provides dependable, quality experiences—Think of templatization like quality control—it helps keep your responses consistent and on-brand.
- Reduces the chances of misspelled words or grammatical errors—It’s easy to get fatigued when you write the same kind of response over and over. Plus, while your employees can easily write texts to their friends and family, not everyone is a writer (or editor). And you can’t always trust auto-correct to catch mistakes. As helpful as it is, auto-correct can miss its mark and totally misspell things or replace the wrong words.
Types of Messages You Can Templatize
Not every response is worthy of templatization. Some responses, like one-off specific questions, require personalization and custom answers whereas frequently asked questions can be easily templatized. For example:
- Questions—Frequently asked questions about your hours, location, or service rates can be easily templatized. Inquiries about inventory can be templatized as well, but you may want to add some personalized aspects such as additional car suggestions or follow-up questions about what they’re looking for in a vehicle.
- After-hours messages—Whether a customer is shopping late at night or has a minor plumbing issue that needs tending to in the morning, a templatized after-hours response offers some reassurance that you’ve received their message and you’ll get back to them as soon as possible.
- Order shipment and delivery—New stuff is exciting! Ride out the excitement and let your customers know their package is shipped or out for delivery with a templatized message. If a customer is out of town when a package is delivered, they can notify a neighbor or the front desk at an apartment complex to retrieve it for them so it doesn’t get stolen.
- Technician arrival—Customers appreciate being kept in the loop. If your business offers a professional service, like plumbing or HVAC, a templatized alert stating the technician’s estimated time of arrival helps customers plan their day around the appointment.
- Confirmation—Sending a templatized confirmation message letting the customer know that you’ve received a quote request, appointment, or check-in is helpful. This might seem like overkill, but overcommunication is important for new leads and existing customers alike. It highlights your dedication to providing the best experience possible and helps keep you on a customer’s radar—that way you don’t lose touch.
- Reviews—Gathering reviews from customers can feel like herding cats. Instead of relying on email or phone calls, use templatized text messages to send review requests.
- Annual reminders and anniversaries—It’s easy to forget important dates. However, anniversary and annual reminders are an easy way to stay in touch with existing customers. So whether it’s a wedding anniversary or an annual reminder, send an automated, templatized message reminding your customers to go get their annual check-up, clean their chimney, or get a special something for that special someone.
Some channels offer in-app templatization options. For example, Instagram and Facebook have a quick replies option for business accounts. But managing all those channels can get overwhelming. Alternatively, you could streamline your channels with Podium’s Interaction Management platform. It features a centralized inbox with access to all channels ranging from Facebook Messenger to Google My Business. From there, you can templatize message responses and never lose touch with customers.
Examples of Templates and Auto Responses
If you’re having a tough time brainstorming some ways to templatize your messages, don’t worry. We’ve got some examples lined up for you.
Customer: “What are your hours?”
Your Business: “Hi there! We’re open 9-5 Monday through Saturday. You can visit us at 123 State Street, Salt Lake City, UT.”
Customer: “Hello, I just noticed that I’ve got a minor faucet leak and it’s dripping on my floor. I’ve put a bucket under it for now, but could I schedule a service appointment tomorrow?”
Your Business: “Hey there. Thanks for reaching out! We’re not at the shop right now, but we’ll get back to you first thing tomorrow morning when we re-open at 8 am. If it’s an emergency plumbing issue, like a busted water main, please respond to this message with [insert your preferred emergency word].”
Order shipment or delivery
Customer: “Hi! Just checking in—when is my jacket slated to ship?”
Business: “Hi [insert customer name], your jacket is slated to ship on [insert date]. Please let us know if it doesn’t arrive within [X] days.”
Customer: “What time can I expect the HVAC technician to arrive at my house? I have some errands I need to run.”
Business: “[Insert technician’s name] will arrive between [include ETA]. Let us know if that timeframe doesn’t wind up working for you.”
Business: “Hi [insert customer’s name], we just wanted to let you know that we’ve received your quote request. [insert service representative’s name] will be in touch with you shortly to chat about your tiling project.”
Annual reminders or anniversaries
Business: “Happy anniversary [Insert customer’s name]! We hope this past year has been nothing short of lovely and magical. As a token of our thanks, we’re including a complimentary ring cleaning and 20% off coupon on sterling silver necklaces.”
Pro Tip: Seize lead opportunities when they arise—don’t be afraid to include a CTA in your messages!
Things to Remember
As the old saying goes, “the devil is in the details.” We’ve got three tips that you’ll need to keep in the back of your mind when templatizing or automating messages.
- Check for spelling errors—Remember to double check your message before you hit send. Make sure there are no glaring errors like misspelled words or Freudian slips.
- Personalize the message—Be sure to address the customer by name when you’re responding. Remember to double-check that you spelled their name correctly. Nothing can off-put a potential lead quite like calling them by the wrong name—there’s a big difference between Monica and Monique and your customer is sure to pay attention to those differences. Some messaging products, like Podium’s Messenger, have features that pre-populate a customer’s name and other relevant information so you don’t have to worry about getting mixed up.
- Add a little bit of character—Emojis are an easy way to add character and color to your messages. Remember to keep exclamation points to a minimum because they can feel overwhelming to customers. Use greetings like Hi/Hey there, Good Morning, and Hi. These options are welcoming and warm—you want to avoid coming across as too formal or too eager.
Remember, you don’t want to automate and templatize every single response. Doing so comes across as disingenuous and impersonal. And despite your customers’ demand for maximum convenience, they do still want some semblance of a personalized experience. To give them the best of both worlds, you need to strike a balance between strategic automation, templatization, and tailored-to-fit responses. In the long-term, this approach allows you to be convenient for your customers, provide unique experiences, and save you and your employees’ time.