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To Macro or To Not Macro: A Guide to Canned Responses


Macros are very much like the Force.  They emanate throughout the entire support universe, guiding agents to fast solutions and consistent customer care. Those who harness them responsibly experience the joy of a happy community and company growth, while those who abuse them fall prey to a dark path of dwindling customers and the destruction of their business.  

Regardless of whatever movie pun you choose to pair them with, Macros are an undeniable part of great support.   And here’s exactly why:


Remember that utility belt Batman had in the 60s?  The one that had a solution for just about every jam the dynamic duo could possible get into?  Macros are kinda like that.    They’re the primary tool your agents will use to serve the range of needs of your customers. The greatest advantage they offer is the ability to handle massive volume with minimal sacrifices to time.

Consider, for example, that the average response to a customer is about 110 words, which takes the average person about 6 minutes to type.  So for a desk that receives a 100 tickets per day, this equates to 600 minutes of just typing.  That’s 10 hours of time your agent will spend per day typing the same information, over and over, to customers who all have the same issue.  Macros turn that 6 minutes into seconds by auto-filling the brunt of the response, allowing a single agent to handle 100 tickets in a quarter of the time.

Macros also provide consistency by ensuring that every customer receives the same information.  There’s less of a chance that an agent will forget a step or accidentally respond with incorrect facts because those are already fleshed out.  Macros help keep those pesky “oops!” moments to a minimum, which means more “yay!” moments for your customers.


The most important thing about using macros is to first understand that they aren’t a replacement for great customer support agents.  Macros shouldn’t be viewed like robotic arms taking the jobs of skilled laborers in a factory; rather, they’re mechanical arms that are controlled and manipulated by the skilled laborer to make his or her task progress more effectively.  Macros certainly speed up the process, but they shouldn’t be viewed as a tool that diminishes the need for an experienced agent.

There are two major rules that agents need to follow in order to use macros correctly:

  1. Pick the right one –  Knowing which macro to choose for a customer’s situation is the core element to using macros effectively.  Each macro is catered to answer a specific questions.  Making sure the right one is chosen is the job that a good support agent faces.  This means that the agent must be keen to what the customer actually needs.  If they send the wrong macro, not just will the response be unhelpful, it will make your entire operation appear very juvenile.
  1.  Give’em a Tweak – Macros aren’t a set of sacred laws etched in stone.  They’re a starting place that are meant to change and evolve alongside of the needs of your community.  To use a macro to its absolute fullest, the support agent should select the appropriate macro, but then modify it to align with the tone and situation of the customer.  Doing so helps keep that personal touch.  



Choosing to make macros part of your support is a great decision; the tricky part is knowing exactly how to do it.  Like most good things in life, macros take some patience and thoughtful planning to execute well.  You need to consider your product, your community, and your employees when determining the best way to use them.  Writing responses that reflect your brand is just as important as writing ones that properly address user inquiries.  They also need to be adaptable so that support agents can tweak them to fit unique customer situations.  Don’t rush the process; you’ll be repaid tenfold in happy customers for taking the time to implement great macros from the start.


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