At this time of year lots of business folks are out of the office. Many using that extra vacation time and if possible, visiting family for the Holidays.
I am seeing an increase in notices from partners and providers about their upcoming availability or unavailability. A lot more this year than years past.
Email autoresponders, also known as automatic replies or away/vacation messages are a staple of business communication. Quite often, however, they are engaged without a full understanding of how and when they should be used.
Here are a few things to consider to enable your vacation/away auto-messages properly. Following these simple guidelines will also ensure that you offer a great customer service experience.
Proper Out of Office Message Usage
Set a Reminder…
The first thing you want to do is write yourself a note, alert or calendar reminder for when you return. This will remind you to disengage the autoresponder so it does not continue being sent when you are in fact back in the saddle.
When you get back to work, things will be hectic and it will be easy to forget. Nothing smacks of lack of organization or attention to detail than away messages still being sent after you are back in the office and available for business communications.
The Basics and Clarity
Personalize your away message with a greeting and closing. It is also wise to note that your away message is in fact an automated message.
This makes sure that recipients understand hitting reply will only produce another automated message — and no reply from you. Your message should include:
- The time-frame you will be unavailable.
- When you will return.
- When a response can be expected.
- The name, phone number or email address of the person that can be contacted in your absence.
Do you subscribe to email lists, forums, Blogs or discussion lists? Of course you do. So what do you think will happen in your absence once you engage your away message?
In most cases your away message is being sent to the sender unnecessarily. I would get tons of these with each new post notification that goes out. I don’t really know these folks, they sub to my site and I’m grateful. But I don’t need to know they are away. More unnecessary email volume created.
Consider unsubscribing to any automated mailings. This will prevent unnecessary messages to senders who don’t need to know your status. Then when you return, resubscribe with a secondary address that you can use just for subscriptions.
PRO TIP: Having a separate address that you only use for subscriptions can make your life simpler too. You can then filter anything going to that address into your “subscriptions” folder in your email program for review when you get back.
Here are a couple quick away-message examples:
You are receiving this automated message because I am out of the office. I will be unavailable from December14th through January 1st.
If you need immediate assistance during my absence, please contact Jane Jones at [email protected]
I will respond to your emails as soon as I can upon my return.
Thank you for your message! This is an automated message because I am currently out of the office (with no email access). I will be returning on January 4th.
If you something comes up where you need my immediate assistance, you may reach me on my mobile at 555-555-1212. Otherwise, I will get back to you promptly upon my return.
Setup a message that works for your situation to ensure the best customer service experience possible for your contacts. Autoresponders can be a useful business tool and when used appropriately can help keep others informed.
Keep these issues in mind so that when you do use autoresponders, they are viewed as more of a benefit than an annoyance.