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Help Desk Tips is a weekly series featuring best practices and tips from support professionals on optimizing your help desk and support department.

Your customers expect — and deserve — personal attention for their questions and issues. But that doesn’t mean you have to start each new reply from scratch. Incorporate a few simple automations into your support routine, and you can plow through the queue while still maintaining the friendly, human interactions your customers deserve.

As an automation company, Zapier has a few tricks up our sleeves that help us do just that.

Typing the same replies again and again is a mind-numbing waste of time. You might already use Saved Replies to speedily tackle issues that require a standard response. One way to add a little extra rocket fuel to your workflow is to use a text expander.

One example of text expansion that you’re probably already using? The autocomplete function on your phone. When you type a short, pre-set combination of keys (“snippets”), that triggers a word, phrase, sentence, or link which you can instantly insert into your reply.

Text expansion

Plain text snippets work well for static content — for when you always want to share the exact same information. However, you can take that a step further and level up with dynamic snippets with macros that pull in custom content, like the current time and date info, and that even grab info that’s copied to your clipboard.

For example, typing “;whtest” into a Help Scout reply expands into the framework for a tutorial on setting up a certain type of Zapier automation, which could be a huge pain to retype if even a few customers a week need this tutorial. The details need to be filled in the blanks, but auto-populating the basic structure saves time and eliminates errors.

Text expansion

Make your help desk your ‘support HQ’

Support requests come from many different channels, and flipping between your help desk to Twitter, to chat or phones can be dizzying.

We use a Zap (Zapier’s lingo for an automation) between Twitter and Mailgun to bring tweets right into our Help Scout queue, with filters to exclude tweets that don’t need a direct reply. Keeping Help Scout as our one-stop shop for customer support helps us fly through the queue more efficiently.

Share important stats and milestones

It’s easy to get tunnel vision when going conversation by conversation. Luckily, while you’re crushing the queue, your help desk can be gathering data in the background that helps unlock insights and trends.

We use a Slack integration via Zapier to bring stats, milestones, and helpful info right into our team chat to help keep everyone in the know.

For example, “HappyBot” shares recent happiness ratings and does a little jig to celebrate.

HappyBot jig

Support Milestone Bot shares stats gathered over time.

Support Milestone Bot stat

Some team members even call their personal Help Scout stats on demand, using the Zapier Chrome extension, Push. Using a Push Zap, Zapier customer champion Chris Vanderkolk can quickly check in on his stats via a customized direct message to himself on Slack. Whenever Chris clicks on the Chrome extension, Zapier checks Chris’s happiness rating and then queries Giphy for a pitch-perfect GIF to post in Slack and motivate his progress. “You can do it, dude” for slower days or a resounding “Yas” when he’s on fire.

Happiness rating motivation

You can use this automation for sharing information outside your help desk, too. At Zapier, we’re constantly releasing new apps on our platform. Since our customers might soon have questions about those new apps, our support team has to learn an ever-expanding library of apps (have I mentioned our support team is 💯?). So we created an App Bot that pops into Slack to let everyone know when a new app has launched. That way, the team can check it out and learn the ropes.

Here’s how to build your own bot in Slack to automate your Slack conversations and notifications.

App Bot

Ready to start automating? Zapier makes hundreds of integrations possible without having to write a single line of code. Here are a few popular Zaps, or check out everything that’s possible with Help Scout and Zapier.

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Kim Kadiyala

Kim is on the marketing team at Zapier, an app automation platform that makes it easy to automate tasks between web apps so you can focus on the work that moves your company forward.