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BLOGCustomer Service: Automated, Templated, or Customized

by Randall CraigFiled in: Blog, Make It Happen Tipsheet, Service, Social MediaTagged as:

Many organizations struggle with setting up a digital response strategy.  How do you trust front line staff to answer properly, if they don’t know the policies?  How do you have a consistent response, no matter who responds, or when?  How do you provide these responses, whether the channel is the website chat, email, social media, mobile, or phone?  And how do you minimize service costs, while maintaining service quality?

One thing is certain: if you don’t get your digital response strategy right, there will be complaints: they don’t care about me.  They are unfair. Why were you able to do it for so-and-so, and not me? And worse, these complaints will be made public on social media, crowding out your bona fide messaging.  Poor service response is the ultimate anti-marketing strategy.

While I have written before on scenario planning and social customer service, with so many different channels, sometimes it is important to go back to first principals:

  1. Custom responses:  For the first three months, have a more senior person answer any queries, based on the applicable real-world policies.
  2. Template responses:  At the end of this time, analyze all of the responses, and create the “top-ten” pre-written template scenario responses.  These can be delegated to front-line staff to use; any issues that go beyond these questions can be escalated.  Periodically, these additional escalated responses can be added to the knowledge base for front-line staff use.
  3. Pre-empt with FAQs and a Knowledge Base:  The template responses can also be cycled back into the website in the form of FAQs or a user accessible knowledge-base, thereby reducing user frustration (and possibly also reducing the need for any interaction at all.)
  4. Automate:  Technology can be used to identify issues, delegate, improve efficiency, and track digital service requests.  It can also be used to auto-respond to queries with suggested answers. (We would caution that this is not without risk: wrong or insensitive answers can be easily shared over the social media.  Ultimately, AI-based “bots” may be able to handle a significant volume of queries that are received.


Every organization has a different front line:  it could be the receptionist, a contact center, a membership services officer, or the CEO’s assistant.  When was the last time you looked at the responses that everyone on the front line uses?  This week, double check that the message that is sent out is consistent.  (And that it is templated, pre-empted with FAQs and a Knowledge Base, and possibly automated.)

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