Packing for Vacation? Don’t Forget Your Out-of-the-Office (OOO) Email

Packing for Vacation Don't Forget Your Out-of-the-Office OOO EmailWould you take off for two days or weeks without changing your voice mail message, leaving incoming callers who don’t receive a call back uncertain whether you’re still on staff with your organization, or still alive? Assuming your answer is no, then why not offer the same courtesy for folks getting in touch with you via email?

Too frequently, email coming in when you’re away falls into a black hole. The situation is made even worse by the sheer volume of email, which often overwhelms on return to the office. The result is frequently annoyance and skepticism that you (and your organization) are doing your job well.

Don’t forget that individual interactions (online, in phone, in person) are the grassroots of organizational marketing. The personal is the organizational in shaping impressions of your organization and motivating a desire to engage with you.

But there’s an easy solution — the out-of-the-office (OOO) email autoresponder (automatically-generated email). An effective out-of-the-office email includes:

  • Your dates away from the office, and whether its a business or pleasure trip
  • Whether or not you’ll be checking email and/or voicemail
  • Backup contact(s), with all contact info, to handle urgent needs (if possible)
  • A bit of yourself–Make it sound like you, rather than a robot. I received an out-of-the-office email this morning referring me to two of my contact’s colleagues. She’s on vacation but assures me, with her trademark enthusiasm, that her colleagues are “resourceful and fabulous, so you will be in good hands.”

A secondary benefit for recipients of your OOO email is that it resets their expectations of response, and serves as a cue to check back in with the you on your return to the office (knowing, as I do, that’ll you’ll have a thousand emails to review).

Don’t forget to ensure your colleagues organization-wide put OOO voicemails and autoresponders to work. Remember, everyone is your organization is a
communicator
. Help colleagues do it right, through suggestion, example and maybe ten minutes of training. When they do so, they’re reflecting most positively on your organization. There’s no better branding than that.

P.S. More tips on making your org’s staff the best marketers possible here, from Convio’s Connection Cafe.

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Nancy Schwartz on July 31, 2008 in Nonprofit Communications, Unique Approaches | 1 comment
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  • Jordan Viator

    Nancy, great point that “everyone in your organization is a communicator”. It’s so very true. The OOO responder seems like such a small action to take, but it really does make a difference in setting expectations and maintaining a positive reflection of your org. I promise to set mine when I’m in NY next month!

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