Message automation audit

View of Cyborg hand holding Chatbot with binary code, message and data 3d rendering

If you have chatted online recently with a help desk, you may have already had the experience of getting messages that really don’t quite fit your question. Chatbots may be taking over the world, but those who are programming their responses might need a little help occasionally, and a regular review of their effectiveness.

The most common message mistake I see, in terms of automated messaging, is a canned reply from a mailbox saying that the recipient is away from the office for a winter holiday–and I get it in some month like, May or June. This can also happen in recorded messages that never get reviewed. On a related note, the fact that you have a “no-reply” return address is no excuse for not providing a valid e-mail address or phone number in the message body somewhere. I consider the act of sending information out without the expectation of a response “broadcasting” and a less effective way of creating customer relationships. The best thing social media teaches us is that communication is always a two-way street, even if you might not like the response.

Maybe I take messages too personally: I do know that when I get a marketing e-mail, that has a generic message, from a marketing guy, perhaps even a guy or a gal like me in some ways, I should understand it should cover a broad spectrum of potential recipients. But when the message makes no sense, or takes liberties with what I think or should think, I do get offended. Take for example some of the subject lines I am getting now from Alignable. Now don’t get me wrong, I kind of like Alignable. They serve a purpose and cater to a niche network marketing audience that needs a push to connect. But when I get a message that says “so-and-so” should be sending you referrals, and that person actually died a few years ago, I have to wonder whether the message hurts the brand. Telling me what I need to expect is also little boundary violation, but I’m willing to let it slide if there is a reasonable purpose.

A few months ago, I logged in to one of those sites that reunites classmates from high school or college. I wanted to see what my father’s high school pictures looked like. I was pleased to see that both he and my uncle were in the yearbooks, and kept copies of the photos. However, now I get messages telling me that my profile (really my deceased father’s profile) has been getting a lot of hits and “Danggg your profile has gotten some traction!!!” Apart from the flagrant grammatical issues in this attempt to get me to pay for a membership to their service, I am saddened by the idea that now my father’s classmates might think that he is still alive and just isn’t going to respond to them. I wish my father was still around, I have ever since I lost him when I was a child. But these assumptions about who I am and whether I am pleased to be getting traction or sad by not getting enough referrals from the departed are odd, if not painful. I encourage all business owners and their marketers to look at the automated messages in your organization and consider the possibility that the message is not working the way you might expect it to. Facebook has a whole section on automated replies in their business portals that can be customized. You might be deflecting customers with dated messages as opposed to encouraging them if the information is incorrect or misleading. (Mental note–check all messages after the pandemic to be sure that social distancing messages are updated…)

So while this may technically qualify as a rant, I hope that those of you who read it might consider a general review of the automated messages you have and think about whether they still make sense, have updated information, or need refreshing in some way.

Henry Lyons is the owner of Finestkind Web Design in Dresden, Maine. He can be reached at, or through his website