If the name does not say it, let me explain. An auto responder is an email that gets sent to someone the minute they send you an email. Email has become a very very crucial part of our businesses. The problem is, that although it's very important, we can spend too much time trying to deal with the masses of emails that get sent to us.
The minute we set up a website and start generating traffic, we will get email from people. Either questions, compliments, complaints, or just general chitchat. In an effort to grow our businesses, we need to reply to these emails and address the issues.
People expect quick responses to email, and that is very hard when you are trying to have a life and run a global (internet) business. If someone in Auzzie sends you an email, he does not know that you are in South Africa, or in Canada attending a conference. He wants an answer immediately.
You could employ 5 people to run 24-hour shifts, getting them to reply to your emails and helping your customers. Either you can not afford this, or you really can not justify spending that amount of money on email. That's why you need an auto responder.
An auto responder normally lives on a server. There is also software available that lets you run it on your computer, but the second you go offline, your auto responder stops working.
Most ISP's today provide an auto responder service with their email offering. If your ISP does not provide this as a free service, you will find a ton of free online auto responders on Google.
An autoresponder sends an email in reply to an email that has been sent to you, the second the email is sent. This means that your customers will get an instant response.
You need to use an auto responder to ease the daily drudge of replying to emails. It also helps put you in a good light with your customers. Even if you are on the golf course or at the 19th hole, your emails are being replied to in a timely fashion.
Auto responders also stop people from sending you the same email 5 times a day, because you have not replied yet.
Auto responders can be used in a variety of ways.
Firstly, you can use it to send a general, "Hey, I got your mail, will get back to you." Of course you would still need to reply to the email. But at least people know you will get back to them.
Secondly you can use it to send the person in the right direction. So you have the email address firstname.lastname@example.org and when people send you an email, they get a response telling them what to contact for the quickest response. This is useful if you have various staff members that need to deal with issues, or if you just want better co-ordination.
Lastly, you can setup a number of mailboxes. So you have a sales @, support @, an enquiries @ and so on.
Then for each mailbox you have a unique auto responder. So if someone sends a mail to sales @, the auto responder sends them a price list and some specials, and explains to them how to place an order.
If they send an email to support @, they get an email giving some answers to common problems, and it sends them a link to your support forum on your website.
If they send an email to inquiries @ they get an email with the contact people that can help them in various departments, like accounts, dispatch etc.
This will not only save you a lot of time every day, but will also help you put up a more professional appearance, and the best part is that it's free.
Now there are a couple of things you need to take into consideration when creating auto responders. Some tips and guidelines:
Do not be too formal, or make it sound like a computer trying to send the message. Write the message in a personal way, the same way as you would write an email to a good customer.
Make sure you have checked your spelling and grammar. If you do not, you will destroy any professional edge you might have gained.
Make sure you attach a signature to the bottom, this helps make it personal. You do not want your customers to feel like they are dealing with a faceless robot.
And lastly, whatever you do, make sure that the auto responders work, test them, then test them again, and then ask someone to test them yet again.