Even Tim Ferris can have a BAD idea….

autoresponderA couple of weeks ago, Fast Company published an article about saving time by using autoresponders in your regular course of business.  For those of you who may be unfamiliar with the concept, an autoresponder is the automatic message most of us set up when we go on vacation or on a business trip that limits our availability. Autoresponders have a very useful purpose in that regard but I am definitely not a fan of using them on a daily basis. The idea seems to have come into popularity when Tim Ferris’ book “The Four Hour Work Week” was on everyone’s desk.  His reasoning was that because of the overwhelming time we spend on email (and the expectation that we all have to get a response in a relatively short time), you should set up an autoresponder to let the recipient know (as an example) that you only check email twice a day – at 10am and 3pm – and to expect a response back at that time. Sounds like a reasonable idea, right? Maybe. Until you get that annoying message… I remember the first time I received an autoresponder message (BEFORE I read TFHWW).  My initial response was, “Whaaaattttt? Are you kidding me?” First of all, I found it somewhat offensive and definitely off-putting. It’s not like the person I was emailing was the President of the United States or something.  In my mind, they couldn’t possibly be SO busy that they had to “schedule” in a response time. Secondly, the language of the message was somewhat abrasive.  It had a bit of a self-important air to it. And finally (as the Fast Company article also states), by “notifying” me of  when I would be important enough to respond to, they are actually sending an EXTRA email that took up MY valuable time (remember they still owed me an actual response). Although I am not a fan of the autorresponder as a time saving tool, if you think it might be a great tool for your arsenal then here are a few tips that may make it more effective (and less offensive to the recipient): 1.  PLEASE make your message user friendly.  Tone is EVERYTHING. Get some feedback on your message before you put it into mass production. 2.  Gently explain your reason for using the sutoresponder.  Help me (as the recipient) understand that you receive 1,000 emails per day or that it takes you 6 hours every day to get through the email backlog.  I “may” be able to muster up some compassion… 3.  DELIVER AS PROMISED.  If you are going to notify me that your next scheduled email response time as at 3pm then understand that I’ll be LOOKING for that email response to follow shortly after 3pm. If you have had success using an autoresponder as a daily time saving device, I would love to hear how it’s working for you.  Leave a comment below! Here’s the link to the full Fast Company article.

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