In today’s world, business doesn’t stop for anyone. Even when you’re out of office, your customers may still try to get in touch. If you want peace of mind after hours, on vacation, or when life simply gets busy, you need a way to get a break from your phone while reassuring clients that you’re not ignoring them.

Out-of-office text messages can be your solution. We’ll explain how to write and set up helpful texting auto-replies, so you can offer a great customer experience even when you’re away.

How to write an out-of-office text message

Composing an effective out-of-office text message is a simple process. They’re meant to be brief, informative messages, which means you can get right to the point. There’s no need to write an eye-catching intro or an in-depth explanation.

Here’s what you need to include in your away message, as well as what to leave out.

What to include

Example of an auto reply

Out-of-office messages are typically 160 characters long, which is the maximum length of a standard SMS text message, so keep your message focused on three key facts:

  1. The time period you’re unavailable
  2. The reason you’re not responding right away
  3. When clients should expect a response

Hitting these key points can be as simple as telling your clients your return date, informing them that you’re out of the office, and stating that you’ll respond within one business day of returning to the office.

If space allows, it’s ideal to thank your clients for calling and include a phone number for clients who need immediate help. Being professional and concise is key. 🔑

What to leave out

What should you omit from your out-of-office text? Avoid making promises you can’t commit to. If you can’t commit to a 24-hour response time, don’t state that you’ll respond within that time frame. Good business texting etiquette starts with following through on set expectations.

It’s also best to eliminate any media — including pictures, videos, and GIFs — from your out-of-office text message. While pretty much everyone can receive standard, text-based SMS messages, some people may not have smartphones that can receive multimedia MMS messages.

Choosing SMS is best for getting your away message delivered and read, so you don’t leave any customers hanging.

Keep in mind text messages with emojis are treated as MMS messages by some cell phone services, so it’s best to avoid using emojis, too.

Composing out-of-office text messages vs. out-of-office email messages

Texting and email are two essential business channels that serve different purposes. While emails are ideal for more complex messages, text messages are more immediate. In fact, 95% of people read texts within three minutes of receiving them. This makes text messaging an ideal channel for out-of-office text messages.

A text message can also feel more personal than an email, which helps clients feel valued and supported while you’re away.

Auto-responder emails can still be an effective tool to respond to clients who email you while you’re out of office, since their attention is already on their email platform. However, if a client calls or texts you, an out-of-office text message makes the most sense. It’ll get read faster and won’t require your client to hop on a different channel.

With a VoIP system like OpenPhone, you won’t have to worry about having limited texting automation features. Much like modern email platforms like Gmail, OpenPhone allows you to schedule auto-replies to send at specific times. This makes sending out-of-office messages a hands-off process. 🙌

How to set up out-of-office texts as auto-replies in OpenPhone

OpenPhone is a modern business phone solution that offers a number of text message automation features to help you better support your customers, even when you’re off the clock. With our auto-replies feature, which is available with every OpenPhone plan, you can set up out-of-office text messages in a matter of minutes. Here’s how:

1. Create an OpenPhone account

Out of office text message: OpenPhone login page

Sign up for a free trial of OpenPhone to try out our business phone system, and set up auto-reply text messages at no cost for seven days. You can cancel anytime, and we’ll even remind you before your trial ends.

If you’re already an OpenPhone user, log into your account.

2. Select a phone number from the web or desktop app

Tap “Settings” on the left-hand menu from the OpenPhone web app or desktop app. Then, tap “Phone numbers” under “Workspace.” Select the number you want to set up out-of-office replies for.

3. Set up auto-replies

Out of office text message: auto replies

Scroll down to the “Auto-Replies” section. You can set up out-of-office auto-reply messages for missed calls and texts during business hours if you’re only planning to step away for a brief time frame. Or, you can set up auto-replies for after-hours calls and messages.

Just make sure to update your availability using the business hours feature if you’re totally unavailable while on vacation or on a holiday.

Under “During business hours” or “After business hours,” choose to set up out-of-office auto-reply messages for:

  • All incoming text messages
  • Missed calls with voicemail
  • Missed calls without voicemail

OpenPhone won’t send automated messages to the same phone number more than once every three hours. This way, your customers won’t be bombarded with texts if they try calling or messaging you five times.

How to set up out-of-office texts on an iPhone

If you use your iPhone for business calls and texts, you can use your smartphone’s built-in Driving Focus feature as an auto-responder when you’re not available. However, this iOS feature can be a hassle to use since it isn’t built for out-of-office text messages.

When you set up iPhone auto-replies through Driving Focus, you can’t customize your availability or schedule auto-replies ahead of time. You’ll have to manually enable auto-replies after hours or when your vacation starts, and manually disable them when you’re available again. Plus, you can’t set up different auto-responses for missed calls and texts.

Still, if you want a workaround, you can follow these steps to send automatic texts from your iPhone:

  1. Go to your iPhone settings.
  2. Scroll down to “Focus” and tap “+.”
Setting up iPhone auto replies
  1. Select “Driving” and name your focus.
  2. Once you’ve added the driving focus, tap “Auto-Reply” under “Options.”
  3. Choose who you want to send auto-replies to: all contacts, recents, or favorites.
  4. Customize your away message.
  5. Head back to your “Driving” section, then tap “While Driving” under “Turn on Automatically.” Update the “Activate” settings to turn on “Manually” to ensure your auto-replies send whenever you turn on “Do Not Disturb While Driving” mode, not just when your iPhone detects that you’re driving.
  6. Head back to your “Driving” section to toggle on “Driving Focus.”

Whenever you want to send auto-replies, toggle on and off the “Do Not Disturb While Driving” car icon from your iPhone Control Center.

If you don’t see this icon, you may need to manually add it by customizing controls under “Control Center” in your iPhone settings.

You can allow notifications from select people, but keep in mind that some of your other app notifications may be silenced the entire time you’re on Do Not Disturb While Driving mode.

As you can see, setting up automatic responses takes quite a bit of effort on iPhones. And after all that work, customers can break through your Driving Focus mode simply by texting “urgent” after their initial text — even if they think an urgent matter is asking for discounts at midnight.

The best way to set up out-of-office text messages is still with a VoIP app like OpenPhone.

5 out-of-office message examples

To help you craft an out-of-office message for your missed phone calls and texts, we’ve put together five automatic reply templates that you can customize.

1. After-hours message

When your team clocks out of work, an after-hours message can reassure your customers that you’re not ignoring their texts or calls. Your message can also inform your clients about when they can expect a response, so they don’t anxiously wait by their phone for hours on end.

Out of office message example for after hours in OpenPhone

Example: Thanks for contacting XYZ Company. Our business hours are M-F, 8 AM to 5 PM ET. We’ll get back to you within one business day.

Copy to Clipboard

2. Vacation message

If you’re taking time off of work, a good vacation responder message is a must. Let your customers know you won’t be available to respond or that you’ll have limited access to the internet while you’re away. For the best customer experience, give your clients alternate contact information that they can use to get support in the meantime, especially if you’re taking an extended break.

Example: I’m currently on vacation abroad! I’ll be back on April 15 to respond to your message. For immediate assistance, please reach out to Allison at 555-555-5555.

Copy to Clipboard

3. Holiday message

When your entire team is away in observance of a holiday, it’s important to notify your customers in case they text or call.

While it’s always ideal to include a return date and emergency contact information, your brief message will ward off the never-ending incoming messages you get on an average day of work. This way, you can spend time with loved ones or plan a self-care day and actually relax. 💆‍♀️

Example: Happy holidays! Our team is out of the office until January 2. For urgent matters, please call 555-555-5555. Otherwise, we’ll respond when we return.

Copy to Clipboard

4. Temporary out-of-office text message

Planning to be out of the office for a short period of time? Whether you’re running errands, in a meeting, or out for lunch, you can set up a temporary out-of-office message that reassures clients you’ll respond in no time.

Temporary out-of-office text message example

Example: Thanks for calling Sam at XYZ Company. I’m currently out of the office. I’ll be back at 2 PM and will respond to your message shortly.

Copy to Clipboard

5. New business-hours message

Any time you change your business hours, there’s bound to be a few customers who don’t get the message right away. Customers who are used to your past business hours may be irked if they reach out and receive no response. You can use your out-of-office message to get them caught up. Use this template to inform clients of business-hour updates up to a month after you make a change.

Example: Thanks for contacting XYZ Company. Our business hours have recently changed. Our team is available M-F, 8 AM to 5 PM ET. We’ll respond within one business day.

Copy to Clipboard

5 more ways to use out-office-text messages for your business

Out-of-office text messages can serve a greater purpose than informing your customers that you’ll be away. You can turn your away message into a sales or marketing touchpoint that helps you reach your business goals. Here are five ways that you can make the most of your auto-replies, along with more out-of-office message examples.

1. Drive traffic to your website

Your business website likely offers information and a number of resources that can answer your clients’ questions, even when you’re away. The best part is, your website doubles as a marketing tool that can drive leads and clients further through the buyer’s journey and persuade them to make a purchase.

By directing callers and texters to your homepage, a landing page, an FAQ, or another relevant web page on your site, you can help them out while getting business results.

Out-of-office text example that redirects your contact to a website.

Example: Thanks for reaching out! We’re on a team retreat until June 10 and will respond when we return. For now, you can learn about our services at xyzcompany.com.

Copy to Clipboard

2. Capture new leads

While you may already have your client’s phone number saved in your CRM, your out-of-office text message is a great opportunity to get them engaged on other communication channels. Encourage them to provide their email address by promoting newsletter perks, inviting them to a webinar, or offering other enticing lead magnets (like downloadable whitepapers and free consultations).

Example: Our sales team is out of office until 3 PM PT but will respond shortly. Subscribe to our newsletter for 20% off our product at xyzcompany.com/subscribe.

Copy to Clipboard

3. Promote a sale

Got a sales promotion coming up or currently live? Your customers will love being in the loop about ways to save.

Use your out-of-office text message to hype up your sales event and drive people to your ecommerce website or store. Make sure to make the sale feel time-sensitive by telling your client when it will end, so they’re more likely to jump right into action.

Example: Thanks for calling. I’m out of office and will respond within one business day. In the meantime, mark your calendars for our one-day BOGO sale on August 5!

Copy to Clipboard

4. Share your content marketing

Your blog posts and videos can be helpful resources for customers while you’re out of the office. Instead of relying solely on search engines like Google or YouTube to get traffic (and results) from your content marketing, consider promoting relevant content within your auto-replies.

Aim to use shorter links so clients don’t get annoyed by a big wall of text on their texting app. However, avoid using link shorteners like bit.ly and tiny.url, which can get flagged as spam and leave your text message not delivered.

Out-of-office text example that redirects the recipient to a product walkthrough.

Example: Thanks for calling! We’ll respond during business hours, M-F, 9 AM to 5 PM MT. Watch our walkthrough for help navigating our app: xyzcompany.com/walkthrough

Copy to Clipboard

5. Boost social media engagement

Odds are, many of your customers are constantly using social media throughout their days. Americans spend nearly one hour per day on Facebook alone. Getting leads and clients engaged with your social media pages is a great opportunity to market your products, services, or brand to them where they’re already looking. Plus, since social media is a two-way platform, promoting your social channels within your out-of-office message is a great way to strengthen your customer relationships.

Your out-of-office text message can even suggest apps like Messenger and Twitter as alternate support channels if your social media specialists or customer service team will be available to respond there.

Example: Thanks for reaching out. I’m at a business conference until May 20. Connect with me at linkedin.com/in/username to learn with me or for a faster response!

Copy to Clipboard

OpenPhone: The best phone system for out-of-office text messages

Out of office text message: OpenPhone mobile and desktop apps

A great out-of-office message can offer customers reassurance while allowing you to take time off or jump into meetings without any worries. The best away messages are highly informative, no-frills messages that are professional and concise.

Once you’ve drafted your out-of-office text message, the best way to set up your auto-replies is by using a VoIP service like OpenPhone. It’ll only take a few minutes, and after your auto-replies are all set up, sending out-of-office texts will be a totally hands-free process.

Start your free trial of OpenPhone today.

5/5 - (2 votes)
Author

Emily is a freelance business and marketing writer based in the desert, though her writing is anything but dry. Her passion is writing compelling, human-friendly content that helps growing businesses perform better.

Your business phone, reimagined.

Delightful and powerful business phone for professionals, teams, and companies.

Write A Comment