Customer service: Holiday time

Chris Meredith explains the ten biggest sins of the out of office message

18 Jun, 13

Chris Meredith explains the ten biggest sins of the out of office message

Expert: Chris Meredith


Background: CEO of, independent office search service worldwide

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The out of office email message seems to be such a simple thing. So simple in fact, that most of us give it little thought. But it’s worth remembering this single email will be read by your customers. These are the top ten biggest sins of the out of office message:

1. Don’t forget to set one up
Sounds obvious but all of us have probably forgotten to set our out of office up at some point, only to return to messages from annoyed clients who thought we were ignoring them.

/2. Forgetting to say when you’ll be back
You need to let people know when you’ll be back.

3. Getting the dates wrong
This is worse than forgetting to say it altogether because it makes you look stupid.

4. Too much detail
Going into too much detail about why you’re away and where you are going. No one is interested.

5. Being rude
Your out of office needs to say please and thank you. Also avoid jargon and office speak.

6. Being too friendly
It needs to be professional. No ‘mate’s or ‘darling’s.

7. Forgetting to give alternative contact details
Just because you aren’t there doesn’t mean the business has to grind to a halt. Give the details of someone who can manage enquires if you aren’t.

8. Forgetting to tell your alternate contact
There is no point in giving without telling them. They could be on holiday too.

9. Trying to be funny
Out of office messages should be clear, concise and polite. But they don’t need to be funny unless you’re a professional stand-up.

10. Forgetting to turn the darned thing off
You’ve had your holiday and now you’re back in the office. But your email keeps telling people you are away. Turn it OFF.


Chris Merideth