How to set up an auto-reply for disabled or deleted users

Learn how to configure an auto-reply message for a disabled (unlicensed) or deleted user in your organization by using the Autoresponder feature in CodeTwo Email Signatures for Office 365.

When an employee leaves your organization or is dismissed, you, as an IT admin, need to take care of the deprovisioning process. In the context of a Microsoft 365 tenant, this usually involves unlicensing (as an intermediate step) or deleting such a user altogether to avoid unnecessary costs, administration, etc. Customers or associates who used to do business with the affected employee might still contact them, not being aware of their departure. And this is when automatic replies might come in handy.

With Autoresponder featured in CodeTwo Email Signatures for Office 365, you can enjoy not only standard auto-reply options you know from the native solutions, but also additional features and better personalization.

Basics

This article shows how to configure CodeTwo Email Signatures for Office 365 for a specific usage scenario. If you need more basic information, use the links below:

When your organization is licensed to use CodeTwo Email Signatures for Office 365, you can use the Autoresponder feature to create auto-reply messages for your users and teams at no extra cost.

Automatic replies are added in the cloud and require the software to work in either server-side mode or combo mode. If you use client-side mode and want to use Autoresponder, simply switch to combo mode. Learn more about signature modes

The Autoresponder feature is not enabled by default. If you haven’t turned it on in CodeTwo Admin Panel yet, follow these steps.

How to configure the program for this scenario

In this example, we’ll set up a special shared mailbox that will handle emails sent to disabled or deleted users’ mailboxes, and then prepare two designs of an auto-reply message.

Create a shared mailbox

Log in to the Exchange admin center (EAC), go to Recipients > Mailboxes in the left-hand menu, and click Add a shared mailbox (Fig. 1.).

Adding a new shared mailbox in the Exchange admin center.
Fig. 1. Adding a new shared mailbox in the Exchange admin center.

In the pane that opens on the right, enter a Display Name and Email address, choose your organization’s domain, and click Create (Fig. 2.). Once the mailbox’s created, close the pane.

Configuring basic settings for the new shared mailbox.
Fig. 2. Configuring basic settings for the new shared mailbox.

Now, you need to add unlicensed/deleted users’ email addresses to the shared mailbox as aliases. Thanks to that, all emails sent to these users will arrive at that mailbox.

Click the shared mailbox on the list of mailboxes in EAC, go to the General tab, and click Manage email address types (Fig. 3.). Next click the Add email address type button.

Accessing email addresses settings for the shared mailbox.
Fig. 3. Accessing email addresses settings for the shared mailbox.

In the pane that opens, select SMTP (Fig. 4., item 1), provide your former employee’s email address (Fig. 4., items 2 & 3), and click OK. Repeat these steps to add other unlicensed/deleted users and click Save once finished.

Important

If you’ve recently unlicensed or deleted a user, you might get an error when adding their address as an alias. In such a case, wait a moment and try again.

Adding a new alias (email address) to a shared mailbox.
Fig. 4. Adding a new alias (email address) to a shared mailbox.

Use the Manage email address types link (as shown in Fig. 3.) to add additional email addresses in the future.

Prepare an autoresponder rule

To start, log in at app.codetwo.com. Click the Add (+) button in the SIGNATURE RULES section and select Add autoresponder rule (Fig. 5.). On the Overview tab, provide name for the rule, e.g. Autoreply for former employees, and optional description.

Creating a new autoresponder rule.
Fig. 5. Creating a new autoresponder rule.

Go to the Reply from tab and select the shared mailbox that includes the email addresses of your unlicensed/deleted Microsoft 365 users (Fig. 6.).

Adding the shared mailbox that handles unlicensed/deleted users’ mailboxes.
Fig. 6. Adding the shared mailbox that handles unlicensed/deleted users’ mailboxes.

On the Reply to tab, you need to define who’s going to receive auto-reply messages. Usually, selecting the External users option should be OK. If, however, your organization is large, it might be better to choose All users (Fig. 7.). That way, auto-replies will be sent to everyone who tries to reach inactive users’ mailboxes.

Deciding on who will get an auto-reply message when they write to a former employee.
Fig. 7. Deciding on who will get an auto-reply message when they write to a former employee.

For this use scenario, you don’t have to configure anything on the Keywords tab, so you can skip it.

The Design tab (Fig. 8.) allows you to configure different aspects of your auto-reply message. Usually, the default settings for the From, To, Subject, and Behavior options should be OK for most of the scenarios. Still, you might want to:

  • replace {Original recipient} (the email address of your shared mailbox) in the From field with another email address that you specifically want your customers to see when they receive the auto-reply;
  • put an email address of a person to whom the thread should be forwarded in the To or Cc field (note: click the Cc button to add the field). That way, they can reach out to a person contacting a former employee if, for example, a given matter is urgent or important;
  • replace the subject of an original email with a phrase such as User you’re contacting does not exist; or
  • change the autoresponder’s behavior to include original message not in the thread but as an attachment.

To learn about the settings described above in detail, consult this article.

Next, click the Edit reply message button (Fig. 8.) to launch the template editor and start designing your auto-reply visually.

Specifying different aspects of the auto-reply message.
Fig. 8. Specifying different aspects of the auto-reply message.

An auto-reply informing about an inactive user should be concise and not too rich in multimedia content. Still, CodeTwo Email Signatures for Office 365 gives you an advantage over the native solutions in terms of branding and personalization. That’s why, it might be a good idea to e.g. include a company logo and contact details.

You can use one of the professionally designed auto-reply templates available in the template library (Fig. 9.).

Choosing one of the pre-defined auto-reply templates.
Fig. 9. Choosing one of the pre-defined auto-reply templates.

After you’ve opened the template in the editor, type the message for anybody who tries to reach one of former employees. You might want to approach them in the two following ways:

  • Scenario A: inform them that the address doesn’t exist and the user no longer works here, providing contact details of another person in your organization (see Fig. 11.);
  • Scenario B: inform them that the mailbox doesn’t work anymore and their message was forwarded to a specific email address (see Fig. 12.).

Once you’re OK with your design, click Apply & Close to save auto-reply’s template and close the editor.

The one last thing to configure is the limiter available on the Options tab (Fig. 10., item 1). With this feature, you can limit the number of autoreplies sent to the original sender in a given timeframe.

In our scenario, it is reasonable to send just one reply, as it should be sufficient for a sender to learn about the fact that the user they tried to contact no longer works in your organization (Fig. 10., item 2). Finally, save your autoresponder rule to apply the new configuration (Fig. 10., item 3).

Configuring the limiter and saving the rule.
Fig. 10. Configuring the limiter and saving the rule.

Result

When someone tries to reach one of the former employees of your organization, they will get an auto-reply message with appropriate information, depending on which way of approaching them you’ve chosen.

Scenario A

In this scenario, a sender learns that the user they’ve tried to reach has retired. Additionally, you provide them with an email address they can use instead to contact your company on their matter (Fig. 11.).

The first example of an auto-reply that informs about a retired employee.
Fig. 11. The first example of an auto-reply that informs about a retired employee.

Scenario B

In this scenario, a sender learns that a given email address no longer exists. Additionally, the auto-reply is automatically delivered to the user you specified on the Design tab (the Cc option) who is responsible for reaching out to the sender later on (Fig. 12.).

The second example of an auto-reply informing a sender that their message was forwarded and they will be contacted soon.
Fig. 12. The second example of an auto-reply informing a sender that their message was forwarded and they will be contacted soon.

See also

How to create an auto-reply message for Customer Service - learn how to configure an auto-reply message for your Customer Service (and any other) team using the Autoresponder feature in CodeTwo Email Signatures for Office 365.

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