Tom’s Tech Tips

Tom’s Tuesday Tech Tip: Can You Rob Me Now?

As long as there’s been email, there have been discussions – often heated – over whether or not it’s appropriate to use an email auto-responder. If you don’t know what that is, think of it as an automatic response that goes to each person who sends you an email. I’m sure you’ve been the recipient of the most common form “Hi, I’m out of the office backpacking in southern Sudan and don’t expect to return until September 31st. If this requires an urgent response, please contact, blah, blah, blah.” Most people use these to indicate they’ll be out of the office for some reason (like a vacation or boondoggle to Paducah) and won’t be responding to email.

Auto-responders are fairly ubiquitous, easy to set up and they annoy me to all get-out. In today’s always connected, Internet-everywhere, handheld world, it’s pretty hard for a Certified Legal Nurse Consultant to go without email unless you leave the country (and sometimes not even then). Most CLNC® consultants I know have a smartphone and can’t resist checking email, even when on vacation, in traffic or on their back, intubated in the ICU. This type of connectivity makes the whole auto-responder issue moot in my opinion (we can run, but we can’t hide from email).

However, some people still feel that advertising your absence via an email auto-response is like asking to be robbed. Do I believe that? No. Why? I don’t know about you, but I don’t get much email from prospective burglars checking whether or not I’m in town before they drop by. Letting your newspapers stack up or not having a light or two on an automatic timer is more of a signal to thieves than your auto-responder. (One word of common sense – don’t advertise on Facebook that you’re on vacation, unless your privacy settings only allow your friends to see your status updates).

So, the question remains, should a CLNC® consultant use an auto-responder for her legal nurse consulting business when she’s, heaven forbid, away from her email? My recommendation is an unequivocal “it depends.” If you can limit it to just people in your contacts list then do so.

It also depends on what type of email service you’re using and whether or not you can set up an auto-responder (should you decide to use one). Here’s how to set up an auto-responder if you’re using webmail such as Gmail, Yahoo! or Windows Live. If you’re using Outlook and your legal nurse consulting business or other firm is using an Exchange server, click here to learn how to set it up. However if you’re using Outlook without an Exchange server to download and read your email, it’ll be a much more difficult issue and you’ll have to search the web for a solution (sorry).

So, if you can’t limit it or it’s not easy to set up, I say no, don’t use one.

Vickie’s never used an auto-responder, no matter where or how long she’s traveled. I asked Vickie why and her response was “the people who matter always know how to find me.” Vickie also stresses that you should be communicating with your important attorney-clients well in advance, and if you will truly be unavailable, let them know that one of the CLNC® subcontractors in your CLNC® alliance is available in case of an emergency (don’t skip that step).

Okay my CLNC® amigos, that’s today’s Tech Tip. Next time you email me and get an instant response that says, “I’m in the office this week but not responding to email,” you’ll know I’ve broken down and set up my own auto-responder.

Keep on techin’,


P.S. Comment and let me know how auto-responders work for your legal nurse consulting business.

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*The opinions and statements made by Vickie Milazzo, the founder of Medical-Legal Consulting Institute, Inc. are based on her experiences and expertise, should not be applied beyond the specific context provided, and do not guaranty or project actual results. Vickie Milazzo is no longer involved in the operations or management of the business, but is involved as an independent education consultant.

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