Friday, August 7, 2009

Good business practices

Businesses have figured out that it's important to respond to customers who make contact by email and by telephone. If they leave messages, customers want to be contacted.

But what happens when government employees take off for a week or more. What happens to email and voicemail messages left for them? Anything? Nothing?

Municipal and County employees should be trained to place out-of-office, automatic-response messages on their e-mailboxes and to record an absence message on their voice mailboxes. It isn't all that hard.

For those who are communication-challenged, a supervisor could write out exact instructions and, if necessary, even write out a script for the employee's message.

When the employee returns, the out-of-office and absence messages should be canceled as the first order of business on the day of return..

This is all common sense, right? Shouldn't even need to write about it. Except today, Friday, 4:00PM, I called Woodstock City Hall to find out why I hadn't received a reply to an email sent on Monday; it was an email for which there could be time-sensitive importance. The employee I wanted to reach was on vacation this week!

I suggested that perhaps the City should require employees to use these messages for good "customer service." What do you think? Do you like receiving a message that the person with whom you have communicated will be away and will return on a certain date? Do you like having an option to contact another person in the office who handles the absent employee's business until he/she returns?

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