Out of Office Auto Reply

Let others know you’re not in the office with the Out of Office Auto Reply!

As many of us head off for a week or two for the Holidays we worry a little, perhaps a lot, about others not being able to reach us while we are away.Being small business owners it’s important to be “reachable” when our customers want to ask questions or make a purchase, for that reason it’s important to give a realistic expectation of when you will be able to contact or follow up with your customers or potential customers when you area away.Remember when you take time off this holiday season to change your office and cell phone voice mail messages to let callers know if you’re away for the holidays, for how long and whether or not you’re checking messages.Remember as well to not leave details like “the whole family is away in florida and the house is empty” for safety reasons of course!

Rather than coming back to a packed e-mail in-box and a full voice-mail box, spend a few minutes crafting a useful out-of-office message and people will be able to redirect or park tasks appropriately.

“out of office” email reminders are also important, and below you’ll find some tips, tricks and step by step instructions for creating a great out of office message in either Outlook or Outlook express.

A good out of office message has four parts:

1. Dates of your absence. Let the contact know when you are out of the office. It helps them decide what their next step is going to be; whether to wait for your return or to direct their request elsewhere.

2. Reason for absence. I like to let my contacts know whether I am on a business trip or vacation. A business trip means I am connected to the office in some way and might be able to respond to a message. If I’m on vacation, I’m out of contact range.

3. Set Expections Let the caller know whether or not you will be returning calls or emails while you are away.

4. Who to contact in your absence. I try and leave contact information for alternate contacts when I am out of the office; a minimum of one up to as many as are needed.

Remember that just because you leave an out-of-office message, it doesn’t mean that you have properly communicated with the sender. There are three things you should keep in mind when composing the message. It should be:

Out of Office

Out of Office

* Complete: give all the detail necessary. Don’t say, “I’m out of the office” or “I’m gone for two weeks.” Make it precise. “I am away from the office starting December 17th and will be back January 2nd.

* Concise: keep it as short as possible while still making it complete. Use short, bulleted phrases. People don’t want to read a novel in your out-of-office reply.

* Clear: make sure it’s easy to understand. Don’t use abbreviations, job titles or internal jargon that will not be understood by everyone sending you a message.

For detailed instructions on how to create an out of office reply see instructions below.

  • For Microsoft Outlook 2002, 2003 or 2007 in a hosted email server environment such as Microsoft Office 365 click HERE
  • For Microsoft Outlook in a small office or home office environment you can emulate the out of office assistant normally only available in a corporate environment by following this two step process HERE, remember however that you will need to leave the computer on with outlook open and the internet connected while you are away.
  • Lastly if you are using Microsoft Outlook Express you can emulate the out of office message by following the instructions HERE and remember to leave the computer on with outlook express open and the internet connected while you are away.

Remember of course to test the rules once setup to ensure they are working and most importantly once all the proper preparations are in place and you know that people will know you are away, relax and enjoy your time off, you’ve earned it!