We’ve all been there. You send an email about something important. Then you wait. And wait some more. No response. You send a second email, thinking that perhaps the first one got missed. Still nothing. You call and leave a message for the person. Or text. Crickets. Finally, frustrated, you call another person to solve your issue.
Days or weeks later, the person finally returns your email. Turns out they were OUT OF TOWN. Now, wouldn’t it have saved you a lot of time and frustration if they had simply let you know they were away via an automatic Out of Office message?
This week’s tip is to use an Out of Office message when you are away. I can’t think of any email systems that don’t offer a simple way for you to set an automatic reply letting people know that you are away. It’s easy. Use it. You can even set it to turn off automatically when you expect to return.
There are a few best practices for what that message should say.
- You’re out of the office.
- You expect to return on XXXXXX date (and please list the date you’re back in the office/working, not the date your airplane touches down in your hometown).
- Will you be responding to emails while you are away? If yes, in what time frame should they expect a response (ex: “I’ll be checking and responding to emails once per day”)
- Is there another person they can contact for help during your absence? If so, provide the email address and phone number of this person.
Here’s an example:
“I will be out of the office until (date) with no email access. I will respond to all emails upon my return. If your request is urgent, please contact (name) at (email) or (phone #).”
You can make this message as professional or as fun as you wish – as long as it matches the “brand” of your company. When I was away this past summer, my out of office told people I was on a boat in the middle of the lake and wasn’t planning to bring my phone because I was afraid it would fall into the lake. This worked great for my small business. In my past life at the (very corporate and serious) bank, I think this fun-spirited message would have been frowned upon.
It’s good to get away. We all need a break. Let yourself take one. Just make sure people aren’t expecting to hear back from you immediately! Set an out of office message to communicate your schedule and set response time expectations.
4 Oranges is committed to bringing you weekly tips in the form of To-Do List items that you can complete in an hour or less. These tips were generated from reviewing best practices from the hundreds of businesses I’ve worked with over the past 15 years. I expect you’re already doing some (but not all) of them. Improve your business by making quick fixes that have long-lasting results.
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