In a workplace culture obsessed with authenticity and culture, why is it that our email autoresponder messages still sound like an android from a low budget 1950’s sci-fi film? Even marketing agencies are guilty of this. They host some of the most eccentric personalities but when it comes time to say you’re stepping away from email, everyone loses all sense of self and instead comes across as some pod person.
This doesn’t need to be this way. You can step. We can help you.
First, infuse your authentic self into your messages. What makes you, you? Is there a way you speak on emails that’s accepted and liked by clients? Chances are, yes. Everyone has a unique personality that comes across in day to day email exchanges and it’s what helps us distinguish your email from the barrage of emails that flood into our inbox each day. So step one is be you.
Second, be honest about what you’re actually doing? Are you heading off on a much-needed holiday? Say so. Maybe you can even give us a hint of where you’re going so we can be totally green with envy. On a self-interested business development note, these details further humanize you so that your clients feel like they actually know you. It’s much easier to dislike, be frustrated with, or even walk away from someone you know and have cultivated a bond with. So bond.
Third, don’t be afraid to use humor. A person who can wield humor is a powerful agent in any work place. They bring levity and relief to the everyday humdrum. If this is you, integrate your sense of humor into your email responder. Here are some example of the classic auto responder line that screams “I’m really dull.”
“Thank you for your email. I’m out of the office and will be back Monday. During this period, I will have limited access to my email. For immediate assistance, please contact me on my cell phone.”
While this shares all the necessary info – such as when you’ll be back, whether you still have access to email, and alternate point of communication – it’s ultimately really boring. Here’s some bold alternatives inspired by Hubspot.
“I am currently out at a job interview and will reply to you if I fail to get the position.”
You have to admit, it’s cheeky. However, not advisable unless your colleagues have a strong sense of humor.
“I’m not in the office right now, but if it’s important, feel free to tweet me @shireenqudosi with #YouAreInterruptingMyVacation
This is perfect, especially for in-house colleagues that don’t seem to get you’re on holiday. It’s also ideal because if you are on holiday you’re more likely to check Twitter than email – and it ensures only the important messages get to you in a punctuated, limited character, capacity.
People use email responders for a number of reasons – it’s not just always about vacations. You could be on maternity leave – if so, tell us about what you’ve decided to name your little one. You could be off to a seminar – if so, tell us where you’re headed and how that improves your ability to be of further service to clients. Perhaps you’re doing something really amazing like taking on a new project – if so, mention it and give people an insight into what cool things your business is up to. You could even just be stepping away in order to segment your day and be more productive by not succumbing to email overload.