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How to Use Canned Responses in Gmail in 2020 (with Templates)

Keeping Staff | April 20th, 2020

Updated 4/22/2020: Google has made a bunch of changes on how canned responses work in Gmail, and we've updated this post to have all the latest information.

Gmail has a not-so-secret feature that allows you to use a template (or canned response) when composing an email.  This can be super handy if you tend to get the same type of message over and over again, like when doing customer service or support.

Up until last year, Gmail called this feature Canned Responses and they hid it in the “Labs” area of your Gmail settings.  It’s since been renamed “Templates” and you’ll need to enable it to get started. Read on to learn how to set up canned responses in Gmail - or scroll on down to the bottom if you just want to see some examples of the best email templates for customer service (we made them super easy to cut and paste!)

If you don't need to share a canned response with your team, here's how to get templates setup in Gmail without Keeping. If you'd like more power with your canned responses, then skip down to see how we provide shared templates in Keeping.

1. After logging into your Gmail account, click the “gear” icon in the top right corner and choose “Settings.”

2. Click the “Advanced” tab.

3. Find the “Templates” option and enable it.

4. Click "Save."

5. Compose an email with a response you would like to save.

6. Before you hit send, click the "three dots" menu to the left.

7. Hover over "Templates", then "Save draft as a new template", then "Save as new template"

8. Choose a name for your template, and click Save

You now have a canned answer you can insert into any Gmail. To do so, click the "three dots" menu again, but this time, after hovering over "Templates", choose the name of the template you just created. It will be automatically inserted into your email!

Sharing Canned Responses with Your Team

If your team collaborates on customer support, you’ll probably want to share these canned responses.  Sharing templates across your team ensures that everyone is using a consistent tone. And if you’re the boss or manager, you don’t have to worry about reviewing responses to customers, because you’ve already provided the templates they need.

Sounds good, right? Unfortunately, Gmail doesn’t make it easy to do this.  You *could* sit down at each team member’s computer, and copy over your templates one-by-one.  But what happens when you add a new canned response? Or make changes to an existing template? 

Keeping makes it’s *super* easy to do this.  Keeping is a fully featured help desk that lives right inside Gmail.  And our shared and synchronized canned responses (we call them Shared Templates) are one of our customers' favorite features.  It’s like a shared brain for your entire team!

Three Strikes and You Automate

The Rule of Three states that if you find yourself doing a task more than three times,  you should find a way to automate it. That applies to customer support email too.  The third time you find yourself responding to the same email, use that third response as your template for the inevitable fourth time you receive the same email.  Trust me, it feels good!

We use Keeping's tag feature to make this process easy. When an agent feels like they are getting the same note over and over again from customers (and the agent is typing the same reply!), then he adds a "make template" tag to ticket. Then at the end of the week, he sorts his inbox by the "make template" tag and adds any new templates into the system.

Canned Responses Make You Fast

90% of customers expect a response in *10 minutes or less* to their customer service request, according to a recent survey.  A canned response lets you (and your team, if you are using Keeping!) respond to customers quickly.  If you are sitting on replies to customers because you’re busy, then it’s time to break out the canned responses. Responding promptly is pillar #2 in our framework for excellent customer service.

The same survey also noted that most customers (62%), prefer email as the "channel" to communicate customer support issues. So expect a lot of email from your customers, and make sure you have the tools in place to deal with it.

How to Use Canned Responses Like a Pro

Personalize, Personalize, Personalize!

Excellent customer service starts (and ends!) with personalization, so it’s super important to make sure your canned responses don’t feel… well, canned.  After all, your customer took the time to write an email to *you*, so it’s reasonable that they expect a thoughtful response back. Any canned response or template should include space to customize with information that addresses your specific customer.

Be Consistent

Using a canned response allows you to be consistent in how you respond to customers.  Are your greetings formal (Dear Mr. Murray)? Or informal (Hey Bill!)? Do you promise to follow up in a certain amount of time? Is your tone friendly and empathetic? All of these things matter, and using canned responses allows you to be consistent in your replies and tone.

Be Casual (Unless You are Denying a Request)

Speaking of tone, most customers will prefer a casual tone with one BIG exception: denying a request or delivering bad news.  A casual tone when delivering bad news never goes over well, so be careful here. But for most requests, an overly formal or stiff response can lack empathy and feel cold. A friendly and casual response, with some personality, lets customers know there is a real person reading their message.

Use Videos or Screenshots

If a customer writes in with a common technical issue (“How do I login?”), then it can help to show them with a screenshot or video.  We love Loom for quickly sharing a video, but there are lots of solutions out there.  Record the video once and then store the link in the canned response. Two clicks and you are done!

8 Customer Service Canned Response Templates

Here are 8 useful templates that you can customize for your own needs. If you have customers emailing you, you've probably already typed versions of these answers before. Save yourself the typing and use these templates instead!

Replying to an upset customer

Hi #first_name,

Thanks for reaching out. I’m so sorry, I definitely understand your concern and I’m escalating your issue so that someone can take a closer look at what’s going on right away.

Please standby and one of my teammates will get back to you with more details ASAP.

Best,

#agent_first_name


Replying to an upset customer (service)

Hi #first_name,  

Thanks so much for your email – I am sorry that you’re disappointed with our product. Could you let me know what specific features you were running into problems with so that I can try to shed a bit more light on their expected functionality?

I’d love to help where I can pass your suggestions along to our team, but I need just a bit more information before doing so. I definitely understand how it can be frustrating to sign up for a service and have it not work the way you think it should, so hopefully we can get this sorted out for you. If not, I’ll be happy to issue you a refund for the money you spent on your upgrade.  

Best,  

#agent_first_name 


Customer has an issue, but you need more information

Hi #first_name,

Thanks for your note. I’m not sure I follow what you’re saying, any chance you could provide a little more detail? A screenshot would be super helpful as well.

I’ll do my best to help.

Thanks!

#agent_first_name


Your product or service is not working

Hi #first_name,

Sorry for the delay in response.

We encountered an issue earlier today that affected a portion of accounts — and unfortunately yours was one of those affected.

We have rectified the underlying problem and you should be up and running again now. No conversations were lost during this time, but please give it a few minutes for them to flow into your inbox.

We understand how critical we are in the role of supporting your customers, and will be implementing a host of solutions to ensure that a situation like this does not occur again.

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to give us a shout.

Thanks,

#agent_first_name


Refund request

Dear #first_name,

As we discussed, I’ve requested that a refund be issued to your account in response to [your complaint]. You should see the amount credited to [your original payment source] within [time period].

Again, I’m sorry that [our product or service] didn’t meet your expectations. If we can help in any way in the future, please reach out.

Sincerely,

#agent_first_name


Feature Request

Hello #first_name,

Thanks again for reaching out to [our company] to suggest [the new feature they proposed].

Unfortunately, although we love the idea, we aren’t able to add it to our development calendar at this point due to competing priorities. If or when that changes, we’ll reach out with more information. 

We appreciate your insight and suggestions. Keep sending them our way!

Sincerely,

#agent_first_name


Happy Customer (and review request)

Hi [customer name],

We are thrilled that you decided to join our family and are hoping that you share the same emotions.

Are you enjoying using our product? I am hoping that you feel you have made the right decision.

If it isn’t too much to ask, I’d love to know how you are liking the product. Shoot us any questions you have about using the product.

I am just an email away for any queries. Would love to hear from you soon.

Thanks,

#agent_first_name


Order didn’t arrive on time

Dear #first_name,

I’m so sorry your order hasn’t arrived. I know how frustrating this must be. We certainly didn’t intend to add to your holiday stress.

I’ve tracked the package via [carrier], and it’s currently listed as “[status].” If you’d like to check on its progress, here’s the link you can use: [link]

Please contact me directly if your order hasn’t arrived within [time frame]. In the meantime, I will do everything I can to locate your package.

Once again, #first_name, I sincerely apologize for the inconvenience.

Sincerely,

#agent_first_name
[Email/direct phone]