We’re delighted to have this guest post from our friend and colleague Ashley Pero.
Are you getting ready for some time out of the office? It is important not to forget to set your out of office email and voicemail messages. You can easily set a task reminder for the day of your departure to pop up in Outlook. And, if you do forget it is worth a trip back to the office (or a quick remote in) to get it set. An effective out of office message can save you time when you get back to the office and also lets people know why they haven’t heard back from you. These people can be coworkers, donors, clients, volunteers or that all important potential donor – you don’t want to leave them thinking you are unresponsive or don’t care.
You can craft an effective out of office message by answering a few simple questions:
When will you be out of the office and what day will you return?
Will the office be closed during any of the time your away?
How can you be contacted (if at all)?
Who can they contact while you’re away?
An email out of office example: Hi! I will be out of the office with no access to email until (day of the week), (month and day). I will respond to all emails upon my return.
If you require immediate assistance please call our office, (888) 888-8888, and someone will be happy to assist you.
The office will be closed (dates office will be closed).
Your voicemail out of office can be similar, but try and keep it short with just the important information.
You could also have limited access to email/voicemail or available only by cell phone – if that is the case let them know how long they should expect a response to take.
If there is a particular person they should ask for in your office list that person’s name, email and phone number. If there are certain people for certain issues list them all (being mindful while recording your voicemail out of office).
And one last thing, if you are using Outlook make sure to set both the internal and external message (both tabs). The same message can work, but you customize both depending on your office size and office requirements.
We’re excited to have this guest post from friend and colleague Ashley Pero.
It’s funny how your earliest jobs can influence your views. I spent my teenage and early 20s working in retail – and firmly believe that people should have to take part in that rite of passage. It is most likely because of that experience that I have such high expectations when it comes to customer service. My paycheck depended on how well I treated my customers and their experience in the various stores that I worked – money is always a good motivator to learn the best practices.
I was pleasantly surprised recently as I personally experienced a local company’s service failure process. Our AC had gone out – and June in Florida with no AC a happy person does not make! We called our normal AC company but they were unavailable until the next day, so we called another company who saturates the market with “we’re here when you need us” ads. They could be out between 9p and 11p, which meant no sleeping in the heat. Then at 8:50p we received a call to tell us they couldn’t come out until the next afternoon with no explanation as to why. Furious I took to Twitter, Facebook and sent them an email explaining my frustration and disappointment in their customer service and company. By the time I woke up the next morning I had genuine responses with apologies and an offer to correct on all media fronts. While I was still uncomfortable as our house reached over 80 degrees, I felt heard. I responded with my appreciation of a response and an explanation and could honestly tell them they I would consider their company in the future. And that is the story most people have heard – the story of their recovery not their mistake.
Does your organization have a service failure process in place? If something goes wrong can you quickly act to offer the customer, client or donor an apology, explanation and solution? It could be the difference between losing that person and all of their friends, family and colleagues hearing about the bad experience or turning the situation around so their friends, family and colleagues hear about how you went above and beyond to make it right.