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Cutting-Edge Web

How to Save Hours Every Day (and naturally be more productive) with this Simple Help Desk Strategy

Photo by theglassdesk

If I were to do a quick poll of my audience and ask them what is the biggest time suck in your business, email would be right at the top of the list.

Probably followed by social media (but we’ll talk about that another time).

How many of you dread going away on a business trip or vacation and coming back to hundreds (if not thousands) of messages in your inbox?

Or simply waking up each morning to 50+ new emails that need answering?

Photo Courtesy of Andrés Þór

Every single time we send a broadcast email to our list, we get dozens of responses from people thanking us, asking questions and…. sometimes complaining.

And we’re committed to answering all those messages – without checking email all day long and breaking focus on the more important tasks in our business.

So how do we do that?

First of all, we set up a help desk to receive emails sent to all the public email accounts that we list on our website (support@, hello@, etc). This system gives us one centralized place to track, sort, answer and search every single email that comes into one of these email accounts.

(We use ZenDesk which we recommend. It only costs $X/month for X users.)

Second, we set up an autoresponder message that gets instantly and automatically sent out to anyone who emails us, so they know what to expect.

This is critical, you have to let people know what to expect from your company and do it in a way that captures the values and voice of your business, while creating connection with your tribe.

Many people make the mistake of writing an official-sounding email that dehumanizes the interaction and makes people feel bad for writing. You want to make people feel welcome and acknowledged, while setting clear boundaries of what they can expect in terms of response.

If you train people to expect an instant response back from you, then they’ll be disappointed when they don’t get it. But if you let them know what to expect and WHY, most people will gladly wait 24, 48 or even 72 hours for a response.

Here’s an example of the autoresponder we send from our help desk to clearly set expectations, reinforce our brand values, and remind our tribe that we’re humans in a playful and lighthearted way.


Thanks for reaching out.

We got your message and we’re going to get you an answer as quickly as we can.

In most cases within a few hours.

Unless we’re eating.

Then definitely within 24.

Food’s a serious business here at LYM HQ. 🙂

So are weekends… and holidays.

And so are YOU.

Over and out for now.

Marisa, Murray and the rest of team LYM.

PS: Yes, real people with big hearts will read your email and get back to you. I know that sounds crazy because so much of online interaction today is impersonal but that’s not how we do things here at Live your Message and Superhero Summit HQ.

PPS: Your email is now in our customer support system so we can effectively and efficiently take care of you. Your request has been given a number/link for easy tracking by everyone on our team (ticket #XXXX).

Should you need to update this ticket with new info or details, please feel free to do that by clicking here: [LINK]

Third, we create macros or pre-written responses to quickly answer the most common questions we get, so we don’t have to write variations of the same email over and over again.

I’d share a few of our macros with you here, but I don’t want this blog post to get too long (or no one will read it)… ?

(Let me know in the comments if you’re interested in this. If we get enough responses, I’ll write another blog post about how to create email macros to quickly address your most common questions without losing that personal touch that makes each person feel seen, heard and acknowledged.)

Fourth, we hire some awesome, empathetic and very engaging people to manage our help desk!

We have Jhaymie – who is based in the Philippines but sounds 100% like a native English speaker.

Her job is to sort all the messages that come in, answer the simple requests that can usually be covered by macros (or variations of macros), and assign the rest to the right person (whether that’s our customer care manager, our affiliate manager, my husband Murray or in rare cases me).

The upshot is that now I only get direct emails from my team, clients who have hired me 1:1, consultants I’ve hired, or people I know personally.

And I have another email box set up for social media notifications (checked by our social media manager), and accounts (checked by our ops team).

Now I can focus my time and energy on setting the vision for our business, creating programs and content (like this blog post) and showing up fully for my tribe when and where it really counts. Rather than frittering away all my time and energy on a million tiny interactions that keep me playing small and feeling drained…

Do me a favor. Click here to read the story of the French shopkeeper who taught me this valuable lesson and leave them a little note letting them know how they’re impacting the lives of people they’ve never even met just by being who they are.

I hope this story helps you tap into the real promise of online business because the world needs you and your message. That is the happy, fulfilled, resourced version of you…

Now go out there and Live Your Message!

Love it? Hate it? Let me know...

  1. Chris

    Hi Marisa, Great post! I’d totally be interested in a post about some of the useful email macros you use and how to set them up.

    Reply ·
  2. Elan

    Love the French Shopkeeper story! We get to live our lives and run our business at a rhythm that works for us provided we set expectations with customers. These days, this kind of setup seems to be a required with all the email received and parallel conversations happening.

    Reply ·
    1. Marisa Murgatroyd

      100% agreed… 🙂

      Reply ·
  3. Marlies Cohen

    Love you French shop keeper story and yes, I would love to see your macros.
    Thank you for inspiring me with your posts.

    Reply ·
    1. Marisa Murgatroyd

      Thank you Marlies! Aren’t Denis and Laurence just the sweetest? It looks like we have quite a bit of interest in the macros… 🙂

      Reply ·
  4. Jeannie

    I loved this post! Along my personal journey I’ve become aware of my cultural snobbery – making assumptions about ways of working/living that are different from mine. So many judgments – such a waste of time on my part! I agree – they have figured it out. I want to live guilt free like that, and I’m going to look at what I’m doing now with that filter to see what I can do differently to have more fun. I’m just starting my business, so it’s pretty overwhelming and my inbox is insanely full – or it’s making me insanely full – not sure. So thanks for this, and yes I’m interested in a better life through macros!

    Reply ·
    1. Marisa Murgatroyd

      I’m guilty as charged too and just seeing the light after overworking and exhausting myself. I’m trying to teach and train differently now since I feel for the workaholic paradigm for too many years!

      “Better living through macros” lol 🙂 You may have just given me the title of our next post (or at least a first line)… 🙂

      Reply ·
  5. Daphne Wells

    Great post Marisa. And yes, I’d love to learn more about the macros too, please 🙂

    Reply ·
    1. Marisa Murgatroyd

      Thank you… one more vote for macros I see…

      Reply ·
  6. Deborah

    Thanks so much for sharing your aha moment courtesy of the sweet shopkeepers you met. And yes, yes! Please do a blog post on the macros.

    And thank you for all you do! 🙂

    Reply ·
    1. Marisa Murgatroyd

      You are welcome! And I love being open to ahas from the most unlikely places… It looks like a couple people are interested in the macros so far. If I get a few more, I’ll write a second post… 🙂

      Reply ·
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About the Author Marisa Murgatroyd

Marisa is the founder of Live Your Message, where she turns entrepreneurs into Online Superheroes, and the creator of Start With You where she helps people just like you to discover the business they're meant to build, not just the business they can build. At 4’11 and a quarter, she’s called the shortest woman in marketing — and that doesn’t stop her from having huge ideas. She’s the “go to” brand builder for industry luminaries and heavyweights such as Justin Livingston, Callan Rush, Danny Iny, Alexis Neely and Susan Peirce Thompson. Marisa helps entrepreneurs create a business that is authentic and aligned with who they are, to empower them to turn up the dial on their “inner superhero”, so they can be the superhero to their tribe, as well as in their own lives.

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