The Campaign to Recognise OOOugst.

We’re starting a campaign to change the name of the month to OOOugust… is everyone except me on holiday???

What is interesting is what people are communicating (or not) through their Out Of Office messages.

It’s actually something I think people should give more thought to, particularly if the email address in question is one that your patients (current or new) are potentially going to use.

Remember your reply is something that “everyone” who emails you during your two-week holiday are going to see – or in some cases for months after you get back, unless one of our doctors is on holiday for the next 10 months! It’s OK she said she’d respond on her return.

The quality of OOO messages ranged from “I am away and will respond on return” whenever that might be, or what amounts to a little more than a summary of where the doctor was off to for their holidays. Lovely to know what they’re up to but not exactly putting the patient front and centre with that one!

The problem is a lot of these are done at the last minute when partners and travelling companions are blaming you if everyone misses the flight.
With that in mind it’s worth preparing a standard OOO to use, thinking about what the needs are of people who are trying to contact you. You can then tweak this for each absence quickly and efficiently.

When are you back?
Be clear, no one likes to be in the dark.
If you don’t make it clear they’ll just send you more emails before you return anyway, each showing signs of more frustration!

What happens if it is urgent?
Provide details of who is the alternate contact. Even if the email is forwarded to someone, tell them who that is, otherwise they are in the dark as to what action, if any, is being taken.
If there will be no action, be clear that that is the case.
If you don’t, they’ll just send more emails before you’re back… (seeing a pattern?)

Common Questions:
Do you regularly get asked specific questions? If so, produce a Q&A page on your website. Add a link to this in your OOO.
If you don’t, they’ll just send more… (you get the gist!)

Make it Personal:
Sign off with your name or that of the business. A small effort to personalise an automated message can psychologically make a big difference to how the message is received.

Remember to turn it off:
If you don’t have an option to set start and end dates with your OOO set yourself a reminder to turn it off… or if you are away for 10 months maybe add the year to your return date.

Anyway, I’m starting a crowdfunding initiative to fund the OOOugust petition. PM and I’ll tell you where to send the money.

If you are on holiday reading this, put down your phone and order a cocktail.

Happy OOOugust everyone!

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