Canned goods: A case for canned email replies

Canned goods: A case for canned email replies

In my quest for efficiency, time-saving and productivity, I’ve dabbled a little with using canned replies in emails and have now come to rely on them in certain instances.
It’s a delicate dance between saving time and trying not to lose anything from the personal touch. I still want to bring authentic customer service that’s necessary when you’re the public face of any inbox for a client. Actually, that’s necessary in any role. We should aim for a genuine connection with anyone we are writing to, even on email.
But if we can shave a bit of time off by taking a few shortcuts, it all helps.

With so many of these things, a little time invested to find out what you can do with the tools you have available, can pay off in the long run.

So, what is a canned email?

Canned emails are preset or prewritten text that can be inserted as a whole section into an email reply, so you can quickly write an email without having to think or type much text at all.

On Outlook, these are called Quick Parts (although they’re not available on Outlook for Mac). And on Gmail, they’re known as Canned Responses.

Unlike suggested replies – like those balloon replies on LinkedIn which are just “Perfect” – the text in each case is written by you, so it can still sound like you. You even have the chance to adapt it further each time you use it. You save your text in your Canned Responses or Quick Parts gallery for future use. It’s there, ready and waiting to drop it into an email whenever you need.

Unlike auto-replies, canned replies are not automatically sent as a response when someone emails you. Those are perfect for out-of-office replies if you’re on holiday or for managing expectations in busy periods if your response time is likely to be longer than usual.

Why would you need a canned reply?

Some of the reasons you would consider using a preset reply in an email:

  • Save time if you rewrite similar replies again and again
  • Maintain the accuracy of information in multiple emails
  • Reuse a specific form of words without having to start again
  • Avoid copying and pasting text from previous emails or boilerplate text

Pros and cons of canned emails

Canned replies allow you to quickly recreate commonly used or even intricate responses, so that you don’t need to spend time drafting them from scratch. This is particularly useful for acknowledgment emails, to confirm receipt of information, or for repeated tricky topics or emails that require utmost accuracy.

It’s a slicker option than copying and pasting text from a template document or from previous emails, which can lead to clumsily constructed or patchy wording and mismatched formatting.

The downside is that it’s easy to miss an opportunity for personal connection. Email replies aren’t always one size fits all. So, it’s worth customising the text, if relevant, and rereading the original email again to make sure any individual points have been addressed in your reply.

Other options

There’s still a workaround if you don’t have the canned replies functions. If you don’t have Outlook or you do but you use a Mac, and you don’t use Gmail, then you can still recreate the function but in a slightly different way by using email templates, text documents to copy and paste from or by setting up and keeping a stock of draft emails that fit the topic.

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About the Author

Hi, I’m the owner of WriteCloud, a virtual assistant and freelance copywriter based in Kent. I help consultants, small businesses and organisations make the most of their time by taking care of their admin and online content.

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