JS Tip 246: From the Customer-service Workshops: Let Your Callers Know You’re Out of the Office

Find, learn, and use your “out-of-office” message for your voice-mail and e-mail systems:

I’m sorry, but I’m out of the office right now. I’ll return on Monday, January 6th. If you need help before then, please contact [whoever] at [wherever].

Wells Fargo does this extremely well. Many of their people turn on their out-of-office messages when they leave for the night.

Consider this example. We’ve used it as a case study in our customer-service workshops:

Case Study: Charlie

Charlie was happy. The last two weeks of January were his. He was going to Disney World with his family. Epcot Center. Animal Kingdom. Typhoon Lagoon. Warm weather. Mmmmm. Warm weather.  


On Monday, January 20th, Megan called Charlie’s office. The phone rang four times and went to voice-mail:

You’ve reached Charlie Jones at the Acme Company. I’m sorry I can’t take your call right now, but if you’ll leave a message at the beep, I’ll get back to you as soon as I can.


Megan thought for a moment, formed her words, and spoke into the receiver:

Charlie, this is Megan Brown in Springfield. I’ve got a small emergency here.

I’ve got a client that needs some information to go before the city attorney and the city council on Friday. I need—they need—the information absolutely no later than Thursday.

I’ve got the details. Please give me a call at 801 296 1155.

It’s important. 

Thank you.


Some Questions

So what happens?

How realistic is the situation? Does this ever happen in “real life”?

What might the failure cost Megan? Charlie? The company?  

If you have questions or comments, let us know. We love this stuff.