Managing Customer Expectations with Automated OOO Replies from ClearFeed

Managing Customer Expectations with Automated OOO Replies from ClearFeed

Shobith Mallya
Shobith Mallya
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Managing Customer Expectations with Automated OOO Replies from ClearFeed

Shobith Mallya
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As much as every team likes to provide round-the-clock support, there are times when queries come in outside business hours or when no one is available. To address communication needs during these time periods, ClearFeed rolled out a feature - Out of Office Replies - that lets support teams automatically respond to customers and employees on Slack - when they are not available.

Challenges with Slack-based Support

Slack & Microsoft Teams based communication are rapidly taking off as a preferred means of customer and employee support. However, these platforms lack a number of features that are required by support teams. One of them is the ability to set Out-of-Office (OOO) responses when service provider teams are not available.

In Slack, for example, a user can:

Even at an individual level - the latter is not useful for handling automated OOO responses  (since no specific keyword can be identified for such a use case).

The problem gets even worse when a support team is supporting customers and employees over Slack channels. In such cases - individual statuses or calendars are not meaningful - rather one needs a team-level calendar regarding availability - and the ability to automatically respond on behalf of the team when it’s not available.

Introducing ClearFeed OOO Replies

ClearFeed now enables support teams to enable automated responses on Slack channels during non-business hours or when the team is unavailable. This feature is part of ClearFeed’s conversational support platform that converts Slack into an effective medium for customer and employee support. In the following sections - we do a deep dive into how this functionality works and some of the ways it can be used to manage customer expectations in a variety of scenarios.

How It Works

ClearFeed triggers OOO replies based on Workflows defined in a Collection (a group of Slack channels). Due to the usage of the Workflow primitive, users have tremendous flexibility in configuring such replies:

  1. Any number of OOO reply workflows can be defined for a single Collection (based on different conditions which we will explore below).
  2. Different OOO reply workflows can be defined for different Collections - thereby allowing different replies to different segments of customers.

Customers can choose to send an automatic response using their company name and logo. This can be used by enabling white labeling on ClearFeed.

Configuring OOO Messages

Setting up the OOO messages in ClearFeed is a simple process. Here's a quick guide:

Step 1: Define Your Business Schedule: The first step is to ensure your business schedule is correctly set in your account settings. This schedule will be the basis for triggering your OOO replies. Aside from working hours and days - business holidays can also be incorporated in this schedule. Click here for a guide on how to set up your business schedule.

Step 2: Define a Workflow: Next, one can go to a Collection (of channels) and create a Workflow that delivers OOO replies. Users can control many things when setting up these workflows:

  • Whether the reply should be sent only in response to a new customer request - or to follow-up messages from customers on existing requests as well.
  • Whether to send the reply with a delay or immediately.
  • Whether to send the reply only for normal or high-priority requests (or for all priorities).

Step 3: Customize Your Message: Users have full control over the message delivered as part of the OOO reply. A thoughtful message can reassure your customers and inform them when they can expect a reply.

The finished workflow looks like the below:

Clutter-Free Experience

At ClearFeed, we want to maintain a clutter-free experience for your Slack chat rooms. Our OOO message implementation also sticks to this theme with two unconventional details:

  1. OOO message sent only on no-reply: In many cases, someone may be able to respond to a customer even during off-hours. When configured with a delay timer - OOO messages are not sent in such a case, if a reply is posted to the customer within the delay time period. 
  2. Cleaning up OOO messages: OOO messages posted during off-hours are automatically cleaned up from the request thread when a reply is posted. 


The combination of different trigger conditions allows users to configure OOO messages for different use cases. Some examples:

Use Case 1: High vs. Low Priority: OOO replies can be tailored differently for high and low-priority requests (by setting up two different workflows - one for each priority). As an example use case:

  • The automated response for high-priority requests can direct users to a different mode of communication for emergencies. 
  • Similarly, the delay timer for high-priority messages can be kept very low (or zero).

Use Case 2: Customizing based on customer segment: Channels for different customers can be grouped into multiple Collections based on customer segments. As an example:

  • Prospects, regular and enterprise customers could be each in different Collections.
  • Response and delay timer for each segment can be defined differently.

Use Case 3: OOO replies on unavailability: Sometimes, team availability can be hard to capture accurately in a calendar. What happens if the entire team stepped out for lunch suddenly?

Support teams can also configure an OOO reply at all hours (and not just business hours). This particularly makes sense in combination with a delay timer. For example:

  • An OOO reply can be configured to be delivered with a delay of 60 min for all customer requests
  • Anytime the support team is not able to respond within 60min - the OOO reply will be sent automatically.


Without an automated OOO reply feature, customers who have reached out to your support team during periods of unavailability would be left wondering - not knowing if their query was received or when it will be addressed. This can lead to frustration and, ultimately, a negative perception of your service.

ClearFeed's OOO feature addresses this by allowing businesses to:

  1. Acknowledge Customer Queries: It sends an automated response acknowledging the receipt of the customer's query.
  2. Manage Expectations: It informs the customer about the support team's availability and provides an approximate timeline for the response.
  3. Provides Guide for Urgent Cases: For high-priority issues, the message can include instructions on alternative actions or escalation procedures.

ClearFeed’s automated OOO reply functionality fills an important gap for support teams helping customers or employees over Slack. Its flexibility and intelligence set it apart from classic solutions in this area. We hope you like it! If you have any questions about this functionality or the overall solution - please contact us at

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