Are canned answers paying-off in Customer Service?

Accenture revealed in their 11th annual Global Consumer Pulse Survey that a large majority of consumers “prefer dealing with human beings over digital channels to solve customer services issues”. This reinforces the need for Customer Service to deliver a personal touch at scale so customers don’t feel like they are receiving robotic or canned answers.

Creating and maintaining good templates / canned answers can be time-consuming, so you should have a way to find out if it pays off. It should have impacts on your metrics. The average handling time per ticket, the average time to first reply or even the first contact resolution rate are examples of metrics that should be positively impacted, whereas customer satisfaction, NPS or others are example of those that should not be negatively impacted.

Most modern ticketing systems allow you to determine what are the most used templates (or macros) over a specific period of time. Unfortunately, only some vendors allow you to cross template usage data with other dimensions, allowing you to answer questions such as:

  • What are our most or least used templates over the past 3 months?
  • What’s the percentage of tickets or chat conversations closed by agent X where templates were used?
  • Is there a team that uses templates more than others?
  • How does template usage impact Customer Satisfaction, average handling time and any other key metric?
  • Do we have contact reasons where a template is most likely to be used? If yes, do agents systematically use a template or not?

When I was in charge of Customer Service organizations, these were typical questions I used to ask myself to measure the impact of template usage in my team, and I am sure you ask yourself similar questions.

If your current ticketing system does not allow you to answer these questions easily, or if your BI or IT team has no resource available to help you building the right dashboards, get in touch or contact us at Miuros. With our technology based on Artificial Intelligence we support you with automated answers for these questions, with no efforts on your end.

You already have answers to the previous questions? Keep reading, let’s dive one level deeper.

As mentioned earlier, customers expect a human touch, meaning that your agents should be making light adjustments to the text returned by templates. This brings another set of questions, more difficult to answer. Nevertheless answers to these questions are key to assess the impact of templates:

  • Are the agents in my team making a lot of modifications to the text returned by templates or not? If yes, how often? Is it systematic? How is this impacting their average handling times or the customer satisfaction?
  • What templates do they modify the most?
  • Are agents using their own set of templates? If yes, what are these templates about? Do they stick to our communication guidelines? Could they benefit others agents in the team? How do they impact Customer Satisfaction?
  • What % of tickets are worked by agent X or team Y with official templates? with significantly modified versions of official templates? or with custom templates?

You could get partial answers to these questions by manually reviewing a sample of tickets per agent and extrapolating the results, but how many days would you need to spend on such task? How many tickets would you need to review to get meaningful answers for your whole team? Too many? Miuros can automate the whole process and deliver these answers quickly.

Diving into the automatic analysis of templates usage is still a new practice and we are discovering every day new benefits of doing it.

For example, one of our fast-growing customers was not using any template at all, but suspected its agents to use custom ones. They were planning to create new templates, but were not quite sure to know which ones. We eventually saved them hours of work by running an automatic template usage analysis. The analysis revealed that 9% of their tickets were worked with custom templates. Dozens of custom templates were thus revealed, and for each of them their impact on customers in terms of average handling time, customer satisfaction, first reply time and first contact resolution rate. With such list of unofficial templates, our customer simply turned a majority of them into official ones. Interestingly, there were also positive side effects on the motivation of the team, since the agents who were actually the authors of the custom templates felt rewarded by having them turned into official ones.

Another customer already had implemented a huge library of templates, but wanted to find out what was their impact on customer’s satisfaction. To prevent answers from sounding too robotic, this customer also expects its 50+ agents to customize templates before using them. For this reason, they wanted to figure out if agents were effectively saving time through the use of templates or not. The automatic template usage analysis revealed that about 67% total tickets were worked with templates, one third of which were modified by the agents when used. Customer satisfaction was most of the times negatively impacted when an official template was used but positively impacted by the use of custom ones. Additionally, the analysis helped them identify templates that required some rewriting and helped them convert high-satisfaction custom templates into official ones. This immediately resulted in a boost of the overall customer satisfaction and an even greater template adoption rate by the agents. Since the whole analysis is simple and automated, they finally asked us to refresh the results on a regular basis to ensure a healthy library of templates but also to monitor the template usage.

How about you? What about your library of templates? What do you really know about it? If you need a hand to answer these questions, let’s get in touch, we’ll figure out together if and how we can support you.