When you’re away from the office or have limited access to email, an email autoresponder can help keep colleagues and clients in-the-know about your schedule — and set reasonable expectations for your reply. Think of it as yet another touchpoint that can anticipate your clients’ needs and leave a good impression. Wondering what to include in an autoresponder message?
These basics will keep your email correspondents happy and informed, even when you can’t reply right away:
- Pleasantries! Tone is uber-important in an auto-responder — you want your recipients to know that although you can’t craft a personal message at the moment, you still care. Start with a friendly, non-specific greeting like “Hello!” and include a warm closing that emphasizes your eagerness to catch up when you can (“I look forward to getting in touch with you soon!“).
- Include a timeframe. Don’t leave your correspondents in limbo — let them know when you’ll be writing (or calling) back. If you know you’ll likely be swamped when you return to your in-box, factor a bit of a buffer into your reply timeframe. If you’re back Tuesday, for example, you might say you’ll be happy to get in touch Thursday. Replying a little earlier than expected is always better than keeping correspondents waiting.
- Provide a back-up plan. Is there someone who can help your correspondents while you’re out? Including that person’s contact information will put your autoreply recipients at ease, even if they don’t use it. Everyone likes to know they’re taken care of! If you don’t have a back-up buddy, consider including emergency contact information, or giving those who have it the okay to use it (“If you need anything urgently, please don’t hesitate to call my cell phone.”)
Altogether, your autoresponder might look a little something like this:
Thank you for your email. I am out of the office, returning Wednesday, July 22nd. If you need anything in my absence, feel free to email Kevin at firstname.lastname@example.org. Otherwise, I look forward to responding to your email when I return!
And remember: When you’re back to business as usual, be sure your auto reply is no longer active. You may be able to create a shcedule for your autoresponder ahead of time, but if not, create a “turn off autoresponder” reminder for yourself as part of the setup process. Then, you’ll be set for a carefree time away from your desk!