Learning to Love Canned Responses

by Paul Reinheimer on

When we started WonderProxy I took a hard line against canned responses. We absolutely would not use them. They're anti-customer and they waste everyone's time. We've had the ability to use them for years, but I refused to even broach the subject. I hate them because there appears to be two types of canned responses:

  • Responses that have nothing to do with the question I've asked
  • Responses that ask me to do things I've already said I've done

I'm sure everyone deals with many examples of those two types, and finds them as frustrating as I do. I can't think of a reason I'd want to subject people giving me money to them.

Then, one day I was dealing with a touchy subject: fraud. I wanted to be clear & concise in what I was asking, while remaining neutral in tone. I didn't want to accuse people of anything, but I needed answers to the questions I was asking. I probably spent 20 minutes writing a four line email. Once it sent I thought to myself "I should save that in a text file so I can use it next time", and I realized there was actually a third type of canned response:

  • Responses that clearly convey the answer to the question I've asked.

It had been there all along, I just hadn't noticed when it had been used. Receiving the right canned response was as seamless as a custom response from a human. Maybe even better: If you're writing something that will get used a hundred times it's easy to justify having it reviewed by a co-worker for clarity.

Our list of canned responses is still very small: seven. But I love them all.