Canned Responses – You Can and You Should

by Kelly Sullivan

We love efficiency at Outgrow Your Garage, so if we discover a better way to deliver a quality product that saves time and energy, we are all about it. Luckily for you, we also believe that sharing is caring. So let us indulge you in one of our current favorite energy-saving email features – canned responses.

If you are anything like us, your email inbox might be…well, scary. Whether your week consists of meetings, events, driving, or extra-curricular activities, the end result is the same – 65 unread emails, gathering dust and growing old together. Not only can this add to your stress levels, it also leads to poor client communication, which is never something you want associated with your brand.

Canned responses are predetermined responses to common questions you receive in your day-to-day business operations. While some of the emails you receive may be unique and require a more in-depth response, many business owners find that they can categorize a lot of the email questions they receive into groups that call for standard responses. Instead of retyping the same answer over and over again, you open the standard response, customize it to your needs, and send it off.

Canned responses are easy to set up on most email platforms, including Google, Yahoo and Outlook. Investing a little of your time upfront to create some standard responses will save you many, many hours in the future. Trust us, it’s worth it.

A good way to plan out your canned emails is to think of your client process from start to finish. What kind of emails do you send throughout that process? Here are some examples to get you started. 

Customer Service

Sending less than favorable emails to customers can feel clunky and uncomfortable when you’re always trying to find the nicest way to word things. That’s where having a simple “message received, we’re taking care of it” canned response can make a big difference.

Example:

Hi there,

Thank you for bringing this to our attention. Our team is looking into this as we speak. As soon as we know more we will promptly follow up. We appreciate your patience!

Best,

[Your Name]

Reminder Emails

We all have to send those nagging emails about invoices, overdue payments, or having things sent over. Whether you’re sending an appointment reminder or a payment reminder, there are lots of situations in which a canned email response can come in handy here.

Example:

Hi there,

A quick reminder that [overdue payment for such and such, your appointment is scheduled for this time on this day].

Please [confirm your appointment, get back to me] at your earliest convenience.

Best,

[Your Name]

Filtering Bad Leads/Unavailable

Not every email in your inbox is going to lead to business. Oftentimes you’ll find yourself wasting time authoring polite rejections to nice requests. Being nice and positive are instinctual for most, but you can make things easier on yourself by referring to your thoughtful, pre-typed out responses to help unclog your inbox.

Example:

Hi there,

Thank you for considering me for [project]. My schedule is completely full for the next few weeks. What I can do is refer you to [name], who I know does great work in this area. I will include their contact information below. Good luck with your project!

Best regards,

[Your Name]

Do not forget though, the key to making canned emails work properly is personalization. Pull up the canned response, and add the customer’s name, your name, and any other information relevant to the situation. You definitely don’t want to send bland, generic responses to all of your clients. This can come across as disingenuous and lazy. Your communication can be easy to manage and personal at the same time – make your templates sound human and compassionate.

According to Microsoft data, 95% of consumers say that customer service is important for brand loyalty, and more than 60% of consumers report having deserted a brand and switching to a rival company because of poor customer service.

Personalize your canned responses to display your company’s consistency, timeliness, and dedication to customer satisfaction. Customization is an easy last step to ensure you are staying on top of quality client communication, which is imperative for any brand. 

You’re not likely to always convey your very best if you’re in a rush or distracted. If you’re working with a templated standard response, you can say it the best way every time—and be constantly improving it. 

Want more information about client communication or templates? Check out our full online business course catalog, where you will find our full Client Communication course, which includes a more in-depth look at how to build templates for your own business.

3 Client Communication Templates Every Service Business Needs

by Jessi Burg and Kelly Sullivan

If you run a service-based business, then you know all about juggling a thousand tasks an hour.  While this is an impressive skill, running your business this way quickly leads to burnout. 

We all know that client communication is one of the trickiest parts of running a service business. Every client needs something different, and you end up spending extra time answering questions that don’t lead to jobs. Not every piece of your business has to require your constant energy and attention. There are ways that you can consolidate your efforts while still getting things done. 

Sending a post-project email is hard (but still important) when you have 50 unread emails stacking up. One of the best ways to stay on top of your client communication is to build templates for the most common scenarios in your business. 

Templates are the key to staying consistent while providing the best customer experience possible. Each big step of your process should be covered, from pre-job communication to sending an estimate to following up after the project is finished. Building templates that are easy to send ensures that you and your clients are getting all of the information needed to get the job done right. It also shows that you are organized, thorough, and prepared. 

Here are our top 3 client communication templates that every service business should have:

  1. Initial Contact Response Template

After your first contact with a potential client, you should walk away with everything you need from them after the initial conversation. Whether you connect through Facebook, text or email, what is the key information that you need from a client beyond their name and contact information? Build a template that cuts right to the chase during this stage to eliminate unnecessary back-and-forths.

For example, if you run a painting company, you may need to know 

  • Is this property commercial or residential?
  • Are you painting the interior or the exterior? 
  • Do they already have the paint or do you need to provide it? 
  • What is their budget? 

If you are a wedding photographer, you might want to know

  • The date of their wedding
  • Do they need engagement photos? 
  • Have they looked at your website and your work, and know that your style is what they are going for?

Think about the most important information to know about your business, and write your own list. If you want, you can even turn this into a form that you send to potential clients before scheduling an estimate. 

  1. Follow-Up Template

Whether you make a connection at a networking event or a backyard barbecue, it is important to maintain your brand by following up in a timely manner. If you have a template built, you can modify it based on the situation and send it out quickly and easily. 

For example: 

“Hi [insert name here],

It was great to meet you at the [insert event here]. Thanks for talking to me about your project! [Insert details about project or conversation]. When do you want to have a follow up call to [insert follow up action here]? Feel free to take a look at the project gallery and FAQ pages on [insert website here] in the meantime to get a feel for what I do.”

You can modify the wording to fit your company, but no matter how you use it, you’ll be able to remember where you met someone and what you talked about easily. With a template like this, you can also direct people to where they can find more information about your company. This will show your potential clients that you were listening to their needs and that you understand what their project could involve.

  1. Post-Job Template

An “end of job email” is (in our opinion) the single most important email you will send in terms of client retention and word of mouth referrals.

Sending an email at the end of a job saying thank you, providing your contact information, and giving them options for any future questions, is going to show that you are dedicated to the quality of your company and your work. You can send it as part of the invoice, or as a separate follow up at a later time. You want to ensure that you:

  • Thank the client for using your company
  • Provide information about who to contact with questions about the job
  • Provide care or maintenance information if needed
  • Provide information about future services they might need from your company
  • Any other information they might need about your company or their project

For example, if your deck company builds someone a cedar deck, you may want to include in your post-job email template things like what to do if they notice any loose boards, how often they should re-stain the deck, or information about your maintenance services. If you don’t offer maintenance services, give them a referral to another company that does. Writing this template in advance will save you time at the end of each job, and show clients that you stand behind your quality of work. 

Templates will assist you in answering client communication easily and efficiently. If you have a checklist of things that you need and know exactly where all of your leads came from, you won’t spend nearly as much time answering repeats of individual emails. Every second counts!