Standard template responses in customer service

Please Be Advised

Are you using templates and processes in an attempt to ensure your customer service representatives are delivering a consistent messages? If so, have you confirmed whether these responses are actually serving your customers?

There are few things that I find more frustrating than receiving a “canned” response during an interaction with customer service, and this week proved to be no exception. Following a quick online review of our personal benefit plan, my wife and I found a large claim that we’ve been waiting for to be missing from the claim history. Unfortunately it was after the normal business hours so I sent in a quick email inquiry to customer service. The response I received – four days later – was nothing short of insulting, suggesting, in a not-so-short four paragraphs, that we needed to check our statement balance online…


The point that fired me up the most however was the lack of personality. There was no greeting in the email, and the first sentence (and an additional three of six sentences in the email) began with the phrase “Please be advised…” Just typing it here boils my blood.

I see this all the time in customer service. In an effort to streamline responses to customers and ensure consistent answers, leaders often revert to creating templates and processes for standardization. There are three problems with this:

1. Employees all have a different perspective on how standard responses are to be used – resulting in continued inconsistency in responses.

2. For those employees that are frustrated with using standard template responses, they often take their application to an extreme, de-personalizing and frustrating customers. You’ve likely experienced this if you’ve ever asked for a favor from someone in customer service only to be told that it’s not possible.

3.  The more processes that you request your employees to follow, the less likely they are to think “outside the box,” diminishing creativity and a belief that they in fact have the ability to resolve customer issues.

There is a balance necessary when introducing processes and standardization into the customer service experience. Individual interactions with customers are often so sensitive to variability in personalities and behaviors that canned responses result in creating more issues rather then less.

This week spend a few minutes listening in or participating in your customer service interactions and look for the following components to a successful interaction:

1. Do employees greet and interact in a personalized manner?

2. Do your employees listen carefully to customer needs, demonstrating patience and taking time to ensure a complete understanding? Clarifying questions and paraphrasing is the key here.

3. Did the response satisfy the customer’s needs? Verify with customers following the call that their need was truly satisfied.

What ever your customer service representatives do there is one phrase I would suggest they avoid using at all costs in any template or standardized response you give them… “Please be advised….”

© Shawn Casemore 2017. All rights reserved.

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