Templates: The Trade-Off Between Customer Satisfaction and Efficiency
Zendesk user? You know them as macros. Using Salesforce Service Cloud? Templates should resonate with you. On Freshdesk? Does the term canned responses ring a bell?
Whichever ticketing system you use - you’ll most likely be using templates: predefined answers to recurring questions.
Why are customer service response templates useful?
They improve agent productivity
They give complete, clear answers to customers
They help unify your message and tone
According to Accenture, customers “prefer dealing with human beings over digital channels to solve customer services issues”. Customers do not want to be just numbers, they want to be treated as individuals and they want to be heard. Therefore, effective customer service means giving every customer that personal touch - even at scale.
Creating individual templates and maintaining a successful template library can be time-consuming. Of course, you make productivity gains, but how can you be sure that this library isn’t damaging customer experience? More importantly - how damaging is it?
All teams should have a way of measuring whether their template usage is paying off. Templates will have a positive impact on your average Handling Times, average First Reply Time or even First Contact Resolution Rate. Similarly, they can negatively impact your Customer Satisfaction, Net Promoter Score (NPS) and other qualitative metrics.
Most ticketing systems will allow you to determine what are the most used templates over a specific time period. Unfortunately, only a few solutions allow you to cross template usage data with other KPIs. This could answer important questions like:
What are our most/least used templates over the past 3 months?
What % of tickets or chat conversations were closed by Agent X using a template?
Is there a team that uses templates more/less than others?
How does template usage impact Customer Satisfaction (or another key metric)?
Do we have any contact reasons where a template is most likely to be used? Is a template always used?
These were the typical questions I used to ask myself when I was in charge of customer service organizations - maybe you ask yourself similar ones. They really helped me measure the impact of using templates in my team.
If you can’t answer these questions easily through your ticketing system’s analytics - or if your Business Intelligence or IT teams don’t have the extra availability to build you the right dashboards - we’ve found a way to calculate the answers to these questions so you can have the answers on demand.
That’s nothing new - I have that already!
Keep reading. Let’s dive deeper.
As I mentioned, customers expect a human touch, meaning that your agents should be making adjustments to the text of templates to personalize. This brings another set of questions, ones that are far more difficult to answer. Nevertheless, to effectively assess the impact of your templates you’ll need to answer them:
Are agents modifying the text in our templates? How often? How does it impact Average Handling Time or Customer Satisfaction?
Which templates are modified the most frequently?
Are agents using their own, personal set of templates? What’s in them? Do they adhere to our communication guidelines? How do they impact Customer Satisfaction & could they benefit the team?
What % of tickets are worked by ‘Agent X’ or ‘Team Y’ with official templates? What about with modified templates? And private/custom templates?
A manual review of tickets would give you partial answers to these questions. But, creating the data and extracting your results would take hours. Even days. Additionally, how many tickets would you need to review to get meaningful answers that would be representative and actionable for your whole team?
Calculating the individual performance of all your templates is something that Miuros does automatically. We believe that you should have these answers as quickly as possible so that you can react faster.
Diving into the automatic analysis of template usage is still largely uncharted territory and, every day, we’re discovering more and more benefits of doing it.
Turning Private Templates into Official Ones
For example, one of our fast-growing customers wasn’t actually using any templates at all - but they suspected that their agents were using their own ones. They wanted to create a library of official ones, but didn’t know where to start. Instead, Miuros saved them hours of work by running automatic template usage analysis.
We scanned every interaction and discovered all the private templates that agents were using. There were loads of them! In fact, we also revealed that 9% of their tickets were worked with custom templates. So, what was the impact on their customer?
We could tell them the effectiveness of each template in terms of Average Handling Time, Customer Satisfaction, First Reply Time and First Contact Resolution Rate. Having identified the top performing templates, they turned them into official ones. Interestingly, it also gave the team a motivational boost. The agents - as the real authors of the official templates - felt empowered and rewarded by having their work ‘published’.
The Link Between Customer Satisfaction and Templates
A different customer had a huge library of templates: they wanted to find out what the relationship between using templates and Customer Satisfaction was. To prevent answers from sounding too robotic, this customer also expects its 200+ agents to customize templates before sending responses to customers. Were agents saving time when they used templates?
Our template analysis revealed that about 67% of all tickets were worked with templates - a third of which were modified by agents when applied. Most of the time, Customer Satisfaction was negatively impacted when an official template was used. But, when a template was modified before sending a response, it had a positive impact.
It helped them identify templates that need editing/rewriting. Private templates that returned high Customer Satisfaction scores were turned into official ones. This immediately resulted in a boost in their overall Customer Satisfaction and templates were adopted more often by agents. Because the analysis is simple and automated, they asked us to refresh the results on a regular basis. We were more than happy to do it, since it ensures that they maintain a healthy library of templates, as well as monitoring template usage.
How is your library of templates? Is there anything you really want to know about it? We’d love to chat with you and hear what metrics you want to measure - just get in touch below.