Business man in pool - yes you can enjoy a vacation

Ah summertime.

Warm days, cool waters, relaxation.... kids out of school, gardens blooming, fresh-squeezed lemonade.... ahhhh yes, summertime is here.

For professionals around the world, summertime also means finding time to get away from the office and enjoying the beach or pool, traveling to exotic locations, or having family vacations. Yet too many are afraid to leave the office because they worry about the messages piling up waiting for them.

It seems a difficult dichotomy: After all, we're told good customer service means being available to our clients and promptly answering calls from both current and potential clients. Yet, on the other hand, we're also told being available all the time and working non-stop creates deadly stress and we need time away from the office to relax and recharge our batteries. Both positions are correct.

Never fear, you CAN get away from the office and still make sure your clients, your potential clients and your business are all taken care of. Maintaining great communication even while you're away is possible. Consider your options and choose which makes the most sense for your situation:

  1. Check your messages daily yourself and returns calls while you are away; set your outgoing voice mail message to explain this.
  2. Tell people via outgoing voice mail message to contact your assistant or another responsible person in your organization. Leave instructions with your substitute for the most common situations such as how to set an appointment to speak with you when you return.
  3. Hire a short-term personal answering service you can find by doing a Google search so all your calls are answered right away.
  4. Simply change your message telling people you're on vacation and you'll get back to them when you're home and back in the office.

For most of us, #4 isn't really an option. It wouldn't be a very relaxing vacation knowing messages are piling up. Although, unless your business has some sort of emergency facet to it, not many people would fault you for taking some much-needed and much-deserved time off. Unplugging completely and going off-the-grid so to speak, can be invigorating and make you sharper when you return.

So now it boils down to how much you do want to relax and leave the business at home while you're on vacation...

With option #3, every call gets answered and handled the way you specify. Some answering services charge as little as $99 for a week, which is reasonable for the peace of mind and ability to completely relax and unplug while on vacation, knowing your calls are being handled.

With option #2, you can tell people to call another number to reach another responsible party inside your organization, who then can take a more detailed message or handle any issues that arise. You could check in with that person every couple of days (or whatever interval you prefer), and leave specific instructions for that person to set up appointments with you when you're back in the office. Be sure to include the following in your outgoing voice mail message:

  • Dates you'll be gone.
  • Name of the person they can reach.
  • Phone number of the person they can reach, repeated slowly.
  • What you plan to do with any messages left for you on your line.

With option #1, you're not fully able to relax while on vacation, but if your message says something like you'll be checking voice mail first thing in the morning (or later in the evening - or whenever) and you'll call back then, that is another great option. It likely wouldn't take you more than 15-30 minutes per day and you can then easily relax the rest of your day knowing all the calls and clients have been taken care of, even if only for you to assess their immediate needs and determine a time to talk in greater detail after you're home.

All options are appropriate to communicate with your clients and potential clients while you're away on vacation. It all boils down to what your level of comfort is in handling those calls while you're away.

Share the choice you're most comfortable with in the comments below and tell us why. I'd love to hear what you think!

Then, stock up on that sun-screen, pour yourself a cool glass of lemonade, and head out on that much-needed and well-deserved vacation knowing you're still communicating effectively!


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