Learning to Take Time Off Support Emails During the Holiday Period

💝 'Tis the season for giving! As part of the Unwrapped '23 series, we're giving the gift of knowledge to help you prepare your Knowledge Base for the holidays.

As a founder you can often find yourself working odd times to get work done.

A few years ago it wasn't strange for me to be propped up on a stool, swinging my legs to the beat of background music chugging an espresso or two (or er...three).

Damn it if we were to be the ones to slack during the holidays. This was the time to do the work, time to dare I say it—hustle (cringe).

But then the pandemic hit which was terrible for everyone—me included. Mental health took a hit and like everyone else, burnout was rife when isolated in an apartment.

That's when I realized that for my own sake, I should be taking time off when everyone else was. And the holiday season at the end of the year was the perfect combination of low ticket volume and low expectations from customers with reply times.

Why shouldn't I watch a season of Gilmore Girls a day with a cup of cinnamon hot chocolate? Why shouldn't I watch the Christmas lights turn on and squeeze myself past the children inside the Oxford Street Disney store to find the perfect gift?

The idea that support didn't need to be done during the festive period felt painful. I'd been covering the support for years.

What if I was letting customer down by not being there. On the other hand maybe it was a good thing to give myself permission to take a mental health break 💆

Working Out How to Tell the Customers

But how to do it?

The answer was obvious in hindsight. Use an autoresponder like everyone else.

And of course I had to do some research on that. We'd never used an autoresponder before. What did I put in it to ensure it wasn't a) rude and b) encouraging people to send replies before I got to the inbox in the New Year?

And so I thought and thought some more. I made it my task of the day—how to convey the fact we're away but also come across sincerely?

I asked my co-founder Taylor if they had any ideas on how to make this auto-responder genuine, detailed, and slightly apologetic.

And as usual they mentioned that I was overthinking this waay too much. They came up with a simple email:

Hey 👋 Thanks for getting in touch.

We're away for the holidays. We'll get back to you in the New Year 💖

Woah hold on, I said. Isn't that kinda rude? It's so short and well, Next Year is hardly a definate date. Next Year could be August for all the customers know 😰

I pondered, tweaked, and was fixated on this auto-responder. I know we're European but damn, that feels kinda short.

Then I thought about how I'd feel receiving this email. Okay so it was we're away—check. And that we'll reply in the New Year—check.

Well, I suppose there's no need for the fluff. We always try to avoid fluff. It's what help documentation is all about.

The autoresponder email getting sent out.

And so it was decided. We'll send this autoresponder out and see how it pans out. We can always change it in the future.

The Reaction

Suprisingly to me things went swimmingly. Well, nothing at all happened. We sent out the autoresponder, took some well needed time off, and responded when a week after the New Year came around.

Despite the fact our customers are a lovely bunch, I expected people to be disappointed in us. Maybe that was an internal thing—maybe I just expected myself to work over the holidays since I had from the start.

I'm happy to say this year will be the same. Over the holidays we'll be taking some time off to relax and rejuvenate in time for the New Year 💝