Christmas times are upon us and many choose to take a little extra vacation at the same time. For both shorter and longer absences, it can be good to write a so-called ooo message (out of office), or autoresponder as it is often called. In this way, you inform both colleagues and external contacts about your availability and when they can expect feedback.
What is an ooo message?
An ooo message is an automatic reply that is sent to those who email you, while you are away. On many email clients, you can set between which dates and times this reply should be sent, so you can create them in advance. Often there is also the option to select different messages for internal and external contacts.
Both internal and external contacts expect feedback on their emails, within a reasonable time. Through an autoresponder, you set reasonable expectations for when an answer can be expected. It is also a polite way to inform people that you are unavailable for some time to come.
What should an autoresponder include?
Writing “Hello, I’m off on vacation” can irritate those who contact you as they do not know when they can expect feedback. Always try to include the following in your autoresponder:
- Greeting phrase.
- Why you’re gone.
- When you’re back.
- Information on where to turn with urgent matters.
Dare to keep a personal tone on your ooo messages. Just because it is an automatic answer, it does not mean it has to be boring or impersonal.
What should you avoid writing?
It’s easy to get too detailed with why you’re away. An autoresponder should not include your life story or all your vacation plans. Keep it short, concise and professional.
Do not promise something that you can not keep
It is also easy to be tempted to write “I will get back to you as soon as possible” or “I check my email regularly”. But this should be avoided if it is not absolutely true. If you know that you will have limited access to your email, it is better to write this. Rather, your contacts will be pleasantly surprised at how quickly you respond, rather that they expect feedback as usual. (And remember; it’s important to allow yourself to actually be free during your leave).
Refer to someone without their consent
An absolute no-no is to refer to a colleague who is not aware or who has not approved this. If you provide contact information to someone else in your autoresponder, this person must have been informed and approve it.
Template for autoresponder
For those of you who easily get a little writers block, here are 3 examples of what you can write in an external or internal autoresponder.
1 External autoresponder with limited availability
Hello and thank you for your message.
I’m on vacation from the 20th of December and will be back in the office on the 3rd of January. I will have limited access to my email during this time, but will try to get back to you as soon as I can. Please note that replies may take longer than usual.
In urgent cases, you can always call our support on 010-123 456 789.
// Name Surname
2 Internal autoresponder with limited availability
I’m on vacation between 20/12-3/1. I will keep an eye on my e-mail, but in urgent cases it is better that you contact my colleague Sara Jonsson, tel: 070-123 456 789. She keeps track of where we stand in the ongoing projects.
Have a great day!
3 External autoresponder without availability
Hello, and thank you for your message.
I’m on vacation from the 20th of December and will be back in the office on the 3rd of January. During this time I will not be available via email. In urgent cases, you are warmly welcome to contact our support at:
Phone: 010-123 456 789
Otherwise, I’ll get back to you when I’m back in the office.
I wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
// Name Surname
Hopefully the templates above can be helpful when writing your autoresponder for Christmas and New Year. Regardless of whether you are going to be on vacation or not, I want to take the opportunity to wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.