I just returned home from an eight-day vacation to Montego Bay,
Jamaica. Before leaving Pennsylvania for my tropical respite from
work and winter, I set my automatic reply on my email. It’s what
most people do when they will be out of the office for an extended
But just because many of us set up auto-responses, does it make
it the right thing to do?
To Auto-Respond or Not Auto-Respond
Years ago, my former mentor (and a brilliant man) Jeffrey
wrote an article about the evils of out-of-office replies and how
they can potentially hurt your business. In the post, he
calls automatic responses “rude”(and, later, “stupid”…
and then later, “self-serving”). He urges people to “quit
He refers to his calling us out on this issue as a “cold slap
in the face.”
My Take on the Subject
I think Jeffrey may have gone a bit far, especially in
denouncing even auto-replies that provide customers with the
contact information of someone who can help them in their hour of
need. I fail to see what’s wrong with that.
However, I do agree with him about this:
“When someone sends you an email, in most cases they expect a
reply within 24 hours. Sometimes, the same day.”
True! And, in my industry especially, time is of the essence.
That’s why I have a Strella team member who will be readily
available to handle any time-sensitive requests when I’m out of
Auto-responding and Strella Social Media Core Values
With customer service and communication as two of our
company’s core values, I would never think of leaving the office
without making sure that someone will handle customer inquiries AND
that customers know who will be there to help them.
Well before my vacation leave, I communicated my travel plans to
our clients and our vendors. My team and I held a virtual meeting
to prepare for the inquiries that might come from our customers and
our internal team while I was out.
I then set up my automatic email reply to reinforce what I
shared with customers and vendors and to ensure they knew who they
could contact. I believe an automatic response is a wise move as
long as it serves a purpose and offers the information clients need
to have their questions or concerns addressed.
If it were true, as Jeffrey suggests, that my competition will
benefit from my generating an auto-reply, I’m willing to take
that risk. Vacations are meant to reduce stress and mentally and
physically regroup. We can’t do that if we stay always connected
to our work and never take a break.
Automatic Replies With Personality
As I was thinking about auto-replies, I began to recall some of
the entertaining automated responses I’ve received from clients
in the past. Just for fun, I’m going to share my top three
favorites with you.
I am currently out of the office trekking in an RV with my
wife, kids, and my in-laws to Canada. Probably either the worst or
best decision I have ever made (I kid—my in-laws are
If you need something while I am out, please contact
Stevi—she is great and can take care of your need or can tell you
who can. Otherwise, I will reply to your email when I return on
Monday the 23rd, eh? See, Canada is rubbing off on me
I am out of the office spending time with family and skiing
(mainly skiing). I’ll be checking emails when I return to the
office January 2nd.
Sorry. Alex won’t be able to answer your email today.
Yesterday we gave him one task too many and, well, he kinda freaked
out. Last we saw him, he had declared himself “Pipi the Iguana
King” and was demanding three cans of peas from everyone in the
He should be back on Monday, 6/11, though he might be heavily
Best wishes and be safe.
Well played, no?
Do You Use Auto-Replies When You’re Out of the Office?
Your turn! Write a comment with your answer. I’d love to hear
your reasons why or why not. And if you’ve crafted a clever
automatic reply, feel free to share it!
Source: FS – Social Media Blogs 1
The Argument for Automatic Email Responses