I just got an autoreply after submitting a suggestion to a company:
Thank you for your note. We appreciate your helping us test out […]
This is just an autoreply to let you know we received your email.
We’re putting most of our energy into improving [widget], so we can’t
promise a personal reply to every question.
That said, user feedback is very important to us, and your comments and ideas will be used to improve [widget].
That’s actually not so bad… but it could be better. Here are my thoughts on what makes for a good autoreply:
1) Have one!
Okay, that’s the simplest but most important. I know some folks disagree with me, and find autoreplies to be annoying. However, particularly in the area of HR, I think autoreplies are essential.
2) Acknowledge and show appreciation for the note.
If it’s HR, include something like, “We appreciate your interest in [companyname] and thank you for taking the time to apply for a position with us.” If it’s a customer-service-reply note, then “We appreciate you using [product]…”
3) Set expectations.
Don’t plan on replying to feedback notes? State that. Got a backlog due to a recent huge product release? State that, too. Be specific, if possible… e.g., “For simple tech issues, we’re typically able to reply in one business day. More complicated tech issues may take us 2-3 days; thanks for your patience!”
4) Explain what happens next.
For HR, let the applicant know that their resume will remain on file for [x] months. Explain how long the process may take (“Selected applicants will typically be notified within 2-3 weeks”). Note whether or not they can expect to receive a rejection letter if they aren’t chosen for the position.
For customer service, note whether the person can expect a call or an e-mail. Give the knowledgebase URL (your company DOES have a knowledgebase, right?!).
5) Sign it from a person!
In the note I received above, there was no closing whatsoever. Blah. At minimum, have something like:
The [widget] team
But much better than that would be:
Product Manager of the WidgetCo Widget Team
Yes, a real name. Maybe it’s just me, but I feel a lot more affinity for a product, a company, a process when I have a greater sense that there’s a real person or persons behind it, not just some monolithic MicroWidgets Inc. label.
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As noted earlier, I know that not everyone loves the concept of autoreplies… but I firmly believe that good autoreplies can solidify a consumers’ relationship with a brand, make them feel better about what might be a frustrating situation, and so on.