Out of office messages – a missed opportunity?

You have probably just switched off your “out of office” message. Most out of office auto replies contain no more than a sentence a two saying when the individual is back in the office. But why miss the opportunity to add some brief relevant communication, such as a link to a marketing campaign or information that might actually help the sender.

With all the money spend on customer experience, digital marketing and branding, I certainly think that a normal out of office, like the one below, is a lost opportunity:

I will be out of the office starting 23-12-2016 and will not return until 03-01-2017.

Here’s a slightly more helpful version:

I will be out of the office until Wednesday, January 4, 2017.  I will respond to your email at that time.

If you have urgent questions regarding XXX please call my mobile (555-5555) or contact my assistant Jane Doe

The worst are the many out of office messages that contain the usual legal disclaimer such as:

This message (including any attachments) may contain confidential, proprietary, privileged and/or private information. The information is intended to be for the use of the individual or entity designated above and so on

Which legal department came up with the idea that this stuff makes any sense at all in an auto reply?

Include a relevant link or some more helpful information instead – given that you cannot respond right away. Here some ideas for next time you take some time away and decide to turn on your out of office:

Marketing

Besides the obvious links to Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, consider adding a link to your recent marketing campaign. If you are working at Unilever this could work and also combine corporate social responsibility efforts:

We all have a part to play in building a brighter future. What’s yours? Read more about our approach to a brighter future.

As a government official at City of Aarhus, this seems like a good sentence to use for a while:

Do plan a visit in 2017. We are the European Capital of Culture and Vogue listed Aarhus on The 10 Hottest Travel Destinations of 2017

For those working at news outlet VICE, this might fly:

I don’t know if you heard, but people have a pretty low opinion of the year 2016. Naturally, they were looking for any glimmer of hope that this new year would be different from its predecessor. For many, that hope came when some rascal had changed LA’s iconic Hollywood sign to read “Hollyweed.” VICE spoke with two local artists who claim they are behind the project.

Sales

In case you want to sign an offer or contract, you can call me on my mobile 🙂

Credit for this direct approach goes to experienced sales manager Klaus-M. Schremser in Austria.

Humour

While humour might not translate well, I’m a fan of adding a personal touch and could not resist these real-world examples:

Not even Wikileaks knows my whereabouts until 13 Jan. But you can check the paper. Or write to wirtschaft@derstandard.at.

Used by Helmut Spudich at Austrian national daily newspaper Der Standard.

Hallo LEGO friend,

If you’re reading this, Doc Brown was unable to make lightning strike the clock tower, and I’m stuck in 1985, celebrating Christmas. I won’t be able to respond to emails or voicemail until 9ish on January 2nd, or until email is invented — whatever comes first.

Happy Holidays!

Credit to Jonas Skovkonge from LEGO for his creative mind and for coming up with the above.

elvis-has-left-the-building

Next steps towards better digital communication

If you keep it to just a few lines, an out of message is a good opportunity to improve your digital communication.

Join our community for digital leaders and benefit from the insights of experienced digital professionals whilst cutting out the time consuming digging and the awkward small-talk.

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