Updated 2/6/2022: Google has made a bunch of changes on how Gmail canned responses work – we’ve updated this post to have all the latest information.
Everyone knows that Gmail is an email service provider, but email isn’t the only feature that Gmail has to offer. Gmail also has a not-so-secret feature that allows you to use a template, also known as a Gmail 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 2020, 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!)
How to set up a Gmail canned response
Setting up a canned response in Gmail is easy. However, it’s important to note if you set up Gmail templates, you cannot share them with the rest of your customer service team. To do this, you need to use Keeping’s shared templates feature.
If you don’t need to share a canned response with your team, here’s how to get templates setup in Gmail without 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. Open up the Compose window for 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 don’t forget to save changes.
How to insert a Gmail canned response in a new email
Now that you know how to create a canned email response, it’s time to learn how to insert them into an email.
After saving your canned response, click the three dots menu again, but this time, after hovering over “Templates”, choose the name of the template you just created. Clicking on it will automatically insert it into your email.
You can edit the canned email response as needed once it’s been inserted into your email. For example, you may want to add a greeting with the recipient’s name at the beginning or your own signature at the end. Once you’re satisfied with your response, click on “Send” to reply to the customer support request.
Can you share customer service canned responses with your team in Gmail?
When to set up canned responses for customer service
It’s hard to know when it’s time to set up a canned response in Gmail for a specific question or issue you deal with on a regular basis. When in doubt, go by The Rule of Three.
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 many tasks, including setting up canned responses for customer service emails.
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!
For example, say multiple customers have emailed you to ask about your company’s return policy. If you receive this question three separate times, responding to it should be automated according to The Rule by Three. In other words, set up a canned response in Gmail after you receive this question for the third time.
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!), he can add a “make template” tag to the ticket. Then at the end of the week, he can sort his inbox by the “make template” tag and add any new templates into the system. This is a great way to stay organized and a fast and easy way to help your team set up canned responses for customer service requests.
The benefits of using canned response email templates
There are many reasons why your team should use canned response email templates to manage customer support requests.
Using canned response email templates can speed up your customer service team’s response time. 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.
Using a canned response in Gmail can save your team time, too. They won’t need to manually type out the answer to the same frequently asked questions over and over again. Instead, they can simply insert a response with one click of the mouse. This allows them to focus their time and energy on other tasks.
It also helps your team maintain a consistent tone when responding to customer service requests. If everyone is using the same templates, everyone will be speaking with the same tone.
How to use a Gmail canned response like a pro
If you want to provide excellent customer service, it’s important to know the right and wrong way to use a Gmail canned response. Follow these tips 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.
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 what steps to take 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 in Gmail so you can reuse it in the future. Two clicks and you are done!
Politely end the conversation
Once you resolve your customer’s issue, it’s most likely time to end the conversation. But before you go, ask the customer if there is anything else you can assist them with. This way, you won’t abruptly end a conversation with a customer who actually has one more question or concern on their mind.
8 customer service canned response templates
Are you struggling to come up with the perfect customer service response templates for your team? Here are 8 useful canned response examples 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 canned responses examples 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
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
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]
How does Keeping work?
Does your support team constantly receive the same questions over and over again from customers? If so, it’s time to install the Keeping canned response Chrome extension for Gmail.
Stop manually typing out the answers to these frequently asked questions. Keeping allows you to save time by inserting a predefined answer into your email response. Even better, these response templates are automatically shared across your whole team so everyone can use them.
Using Keeping’s canned replies extension is easy. Here’s what to do:
- Sign up for Keeping and download the Keeping toolbar from the Google Chrome extension store.
- Open a customer support email and click on “reply” to send a response.
- Click on the lightning bolt icon to access all of your saved canned responses. It’s important to note that this lightning bolt icon will automatically turn yellow if Keeping detects that there is an appropriate canned response for the customer request you are responding to.
- Select the canned response that best answers the customer’s question.
That’s all it takes to insert a canned response into an email.