If you want to adopt only one thing from this series, then I would recommend this one. Automating processes, replies, and basically whatever you can is probably the best time saver. In this post I’m focusing more on what can be automated in a support exchange. Of course if you zoom out and take a look at support processes for example, there is a wide range of opportunities there as well.
Canned replies / predefined answers
If you have some standard questions coming in, or if there is a type of question that you receive a lot, then have a “canned reply” ready that you only need to copy-paste. Maybe there will be parts that you will need to adjust based on the exact question, but the bulk of the text does not need to be typed out.
Below are some examples with the time it approximately takes (for me) to type them out. (I think my typing speed is average with 60-70 WPM.) While one-by-one the savings don’t seem like much, but if you need to do it a dozen times, then it can already add up to minutes.
Refund request – 40-50 seconds
“Hi, we’re really sorry to see you go. I have processed your refund request and you should see the money back in your account in a couple of days. Please let us know when that happens. Good luck with your project!”
Non-premium support – 40-50 seconds
“Hi and thanks for reaching out! I’m sorry, we are not equipped to provide support here in our premium forums for our free plugins. However you can scoot over to wordpress.org and we’ll be happy to help you out there.”
If an answer takes a minute to type out, that’s 10 answers in 10 minutes.
If you can save 30 seconds on each – and probably you will save much more – then that immediately doubles your output, or halves the time you need for the same amount of answers.
Use a text expander tool
A text expander tool is a productivity tool. It allows you to insert snippets – blocks of texts, signatures, code, images, etc. – using a keyboard shortcut or abbreviations.
For example you can insert canned replies with a keyboard shortcut or an abbreviation. (You will just need to remember those 🙂 but there are methods for that.)
Some of these tools have team accounts where you can share snippets with the whole team. You need to set it up once and then everybody can use it.
There are a wide variety of tools like this, both free and paid. You just need to run a search for “text expander” and choose the one that best fits your needs.
Use a scripting utility
This is similar to a text expander, but you can also run complex commands, simulate keystrokes, mouse movement and clicks with it, and much more. The possibilities are endless!
A very popular one for Mac is Alfred.
I’m a Windows person myself and I use AutoHotkey. I started out with a couple of scripts only. Now I have around 150 to speed up my work, starting from simple typo corrections, to extending abbreviations to full words, to inserting full paragraphs of text, to simulating moving the mouse around and clicking on various buttons. I love it! (I will show some examples of this in the next tip for agents.)
This year (2019) in September I participated at WordCamp Switzerland in Zürich. I applied with a talk about how a support exchange, and thus reaching a resolution can be made faster. And I thought it would make a great blog series.
This is the third set of tips for Support Agents in the Faster Support – For Both Sides series.