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Responding to emails in a defined timeline is not only a good work ethic but is a crucial function for a customer-centric business. However, if you spend a considerable amount of time typing and sending the same messages or responses to queries every day, it can affect your productivity while leaving you with less time to focus on your core business tasks.
According to a recent Adobe survey, a worker spends five hours on an average each day checking and responding to emails. Close to 30% of millennials check emails at home while 26% remain connected to work-related emails even when they are on vacation. Emails distract employees every ten minutes from their core tasks, and it can take up to 25 minutes for them to refocus on their tasks fully.
Quick response times are vital for businesses that are looking to acquire and retain customers, encourage brand loyalty, and build a strong brand image. In a survey, 3,200 consumers were asked how quickly companies should reply to their emails. A majority (88%) of customers said they expected the business to respond within 60 minutes, and about 30% wanted a reply within fifteen minutes.
Average first response time or FRT is a crucial customer service metric that indicates how well a business is performing. This involves a calculation of the average response time for an entire department or the business and not only the one-off reply for a customer. While many companies do not respond at all to customer emails, many others take a long FRT of 12 hours. A fast response makes your customers feel valued and meets their expectations of your business.
Reducing response times and providing relevant and helpful information to your customers is the key to the success of customer service as well as your business. Prompt responses give you a distinct competitive advantage while helping you optimize time and productivity.
The benefits of using an Outlook email template
Outlook email template is a powerful feature that enables businesses and individuals to optimize their email management and response times.
By creating a standard response template with all the required information, you can save on considerable time that is otherwise devoted to typing the same message multiple times in a day. With an Outlook email template, you can simply click on the desired template to send a quick and accurate response.
You can also customize your email templates based on your customer requirements/queries or the urgency level.
Marketers and business owners can use Outlook email templates to send customized emails to meet their marketing/business objectives, including:
- Welcome emails: An attractive Outlook email template can be used to send out emails to welcome your subscribers and customers on board and thank them for choosing your brand and subscribing. The standard email message can introduce your brand while including a relevant call-to-action.
- Response to queries: Templates can help you optimize your first response time for queries, complaints, or other grievances of your customers. This helps enhance your brand image and reputation while optimizing the customer experience.
- Newsletter email: Sending out periodic emails to your existing customers or employees serves to inform and educate your staff and subscribers about the latest happenings in the industry, your products/services, and your brand vision.
- Sales promotion: You can use a customized Outlook email template to send out sales or promotional emails to prospective leads to convert them to customers. By including relevant images, offers, and deals in your Outlook email template, you can reach out to your target customers in quick time.
- Order receipt: Standard response templates can help you confirm the purchase in quick time.
- Re-engagement: A periodic mail can help keep your subscribers and customers engaged and remind them to purchase from you again.
- Cart Abandonment Email: If you have an e-commerce business, setting up a standard cart abandonment email can help you reach out to those browsing through your site but have not made a purchase.
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Steps to create an Outlook email template
- In the Home tab, click on ‘New Email’ or use the keyboard shortcut Control + N.
- Type in the new message or information.
- Enter images, the signature, and other elements that are required in the email message template.
- If you have already set up your Outlook to automatically add a signature with a new message, you can remove signatures in step #3.
- Click on File.
- Click on Save as.
- Specify the File name for the template.
- Save as .oft (Outlook Template). In Outlook 2007, go to the Office Button, then click on Save As. From the dropdown menu, choose Outlook Template.
- Ensure that the template is saved in the default location. The default location in Microsoft for saving templates is c:\users\username\appdata\roaming\microsoft\templates.
- Close the message
To use the new template you have created, follow these steps:
- Click on the Home tab.
- Select New Items.
- Click on More Items and then click on Choose Form.
- In Outlook 2007, go to Tools, select Forms, and then click on Choose Form.
- A dialog box opens in Choose Form. From the dropdown menu, click on Look in and then choose User Templates under File System.
- Select the desired template.
- Click Open.
- Type in the required information.
- Click Send.
How to create an Outlook email template for quick replies
If you need to respond to a lot of emails/queries with a standard response, you can set up a simple Outlook email template that enables you to respond quickly to business queries.
- Go to the Home tab.
- Choose Create New under the Quick Steps group.
- Enter a name for the quick response template.
- From the dropdown, click on Choose an Action.
- Select Reply in the Respond section.
- Select Show Options.
- Enter the message that constitutes your reply in the Text box, and include a signature.
- Select Normal for the Importance dropdown arrow that will flag your response as normal importance irrespective of the original message’s level.
- You can also choose to send the reply automatically after a one-minute delay. Your reply, in this case, will stay in the Outbox for one minute, during which time, you can modify or delete the message if needed.
- You can choose Add Action to add on other actions. For instance, you can choose to move the original email to the archive folder or use a color to categorize it to identify messages that require a standard response.
- You can also choose the Shortcut Key dropdown menu and set up a keyboard shortcut for the Add action option.
- Click on Save (Choose Finish in Outlook 2019).
Using your quick reply Outlook email template
To send a quick response to an email using your Quick Reply template, follow these steps in Outlook:
- Select the message for which the quick reply has to be sent.
- Open the message in a separate window or the Reading pane.
- If the message is displayed in the Reading pane, click on the Home tab.
- If you have opened it in a separate window, choose the Message tab.
- Under the Quick Steps group, choose the reply template.
- If you have set up a keyboard shortcut, just press the relevant keyboard keys.
- You can edit or make changes to the message before sending it.
- Click on Send.
Setting up an Outlook email template in Outlook 2019
If you have Outlook 2019, follow these steps to set up an Outlook email template:
- Open Outlook.
- On the top left corner, choose New Message.
- Click on the three dots at the bottom of the new mailbox.
- Choose My templates.
- Select + templates to create a custom template.
- Add a title.
- Type in the message for the template.
- Click on Save.
To use the Outlook email template in Outlook 2019
Every time you want to send a new email, click on the three dots at the bottom of the new mail and select ‘My Templates’ and choose the one you want.
How to create desktop shortcuts or pin your templates on the taskbar
If you frequently have to use certain email templates, following the above steps to select the template each time can be time-consuming, particularly if you are using older versions of Outlook. To save time, you can create a desktop shortcut for your template or pin it on to the taskbar for easy access.
To do this,
- Go to the default folder for Outlook templates: C:\Users\UserName\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Templates.
- Find the relevant one.
- Click on it and drag it on to the Outlook icon in your taskbar.
- This will ensure the template is pinned for quick access.
- Just right click on the icon on your taskbar each time you need to use the template. You can pin multiple templates in the same way to streamline your email responses.