When I sent out last week’s newsletter on out-of-office messages mistakes, I had a few of you respond to me privately as well as directly on our article (LINK) to say you have, sadly, seen these mistakes as well. Some of you even went so far as to admit you had done them too.
We all agreed that it isn’t difficult to ensure that your out-of-office message reads correctly by testing it before leaving. Removing acronyms, typos, and ensuring that you shut it off when you come back to work doesn’t take long.
Which all leaves the question, what should our out-of-office message say and do?
[ctt template=”3″ link=”4gp0K” via=”yes” ]Which all leaves the question, what should our out-of-office message say and do?[/ctt]
Here are the considerations:
– Grab your reader’s attention immediately with a quick headline such as “Absence Alert!” You want to let them know as quickly as possible what they have just received. If you have one long rambling paragraph that explains you are not in the office, you are assuming I will read it. Please don’t assume that, as most people do not read in detail any auto-responder they get. By having two quick words alone at the top of the response, you can be sure that those words will register. If I need more information, I will continue to read. Still, it is almost guaranteed that even if I quickly delete emails without reading them, the words Absence Alert will be unconsciously absorbed.
– Give your reader options. Is there someone else I can contact? If so, please give me their name and phone number. Just listing their name isn’t enough as I may not know their email nor their phone number. It is frustrating to read that I need to contact Sharon Smith and not know how to contact her.
– Put dates on your out-of-office response. Let me know when you will be back in the office. Then I can remind myself to follow up with you accordingly. This week, a reader did share that she had received an out-of-office message in response to an email she had sent. The message asked the sender to resend the message when they return to the office the following week? Seriously?
– Be polite and professional. While you certainly don’t need to tell me where you are on vacation, you do need to be polite to your reader as well as professional. I’m glad you are enjoying your time, but you don’t need to tell me you are dreading returning to a pile of emails or wishing you were always on vacation. You are still representing your company and your reputation, so be polite and professional to anyone reading your message.
Here are a couple of samples of good out-of-office emails
I am currently away from the office on vacation. While I am away, you can contact Monique Saviour at Monique@adminsrock.com or 123-555-1234 x 123. Otherwise, I will return to the office on September 1 and will respond to your email at that time.
I am away from the office today.
If this is urgent, please contact 123-555-1234 for any assistance. I will respond to your email when I return to the office on August 19. Thank you, and have a great day.
It doesn’t take long to ensure you paying attention to your reputation by creating out-of-office emails that showcase your professionalism and are helpful.