Earlier this summer, my family took a fun vacation to the beautiful Black Hills area of South Dakota. One of the best parts of going on that vacation actually happened before I even left, when I received this note from Rachel, my personal assistant:
“Let me know if you need to touch base on anything before your vacation or if I can help you out with anything additional while you’re gone. We need to make sure your brain doesn’t float back this direction for a whole week, so be sure to let me know what I can carry while you’re away.”
How wonderful is that?!?
Rachel is my secret weapon. She helps keep things manageable, and allows me to take worry-free vacations.
I don’t know about you, but I always cringe a little bit when I send an email and instantly get a vacation/out of the office auto-responder email. They always sound like this to me:
Thanks for sending your email. I care about you, but I don’t care enough to make sure that your email gets handled properly when I’m gone. After all, I’m on vacation and I’m not worrying about anything! So, if you think you still need some help, good luck. If you’re lucky, you might be able to convince such-and-such to help you. You just keep working hard, but I won’t … because I’m on VAY-CAY-TION!
Here’s the problem. The sender is sending the email with no expectation that they need to do more. All of a sudden, an auto-responder comes back and says, “Sorry! You need to do more … it’s your turn again!”
I don’t like that. I think there’s a better way.
Let’s go back to Rachel. As I said earlier, she’s my secret weapon, and here’s one of the things she does that makes her worthy of that title. She reads my emails for me when I’m on vacation. Instead of getting an impersonal auto-responder, anyone that sends an email to me gets a response with a personal touch. Either Rachel responds on my behalf, or she directs the email to the person best suited to handle the email.
In either case, the person that sent the email doesn’t take the next action … we do! That’s the respectful way of handling email when you’re on vacation. It honors the sender by letting them know that you are still taking responsibility for the next action with their email. It’s a subtle way of providing excellent communication with your customers, because you’re taking the responsibility of keeping the communication moving forward.
Knowing that Rachel is taking care of everything that comes into my email means that I can keep my eyes off my iPhone, and keep my brain on vacation! Quite honestly, a vacation would be pointless to me if I was constantly checking my emails.
I understand that not everyone has the luxury of having someone like Rachel available to respond to emails. Let’s face it, you need to establish a high level of trust to allow someone to read your emails when you’re away! If you haven’t found that person yet, I’d suggest you start looking! My challenge to you is to find that person before your next vacation starts, so you, too, can keep your brain on vacation!