Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 25, 2008


.... a very Merry Christmas to you and yours ...

MailFlow Testimonials

Friday, December 12, 2008


Here are a few of my favorite quotes from MailFlow users and industry analysts. Enjoy.

“MailFlow is an e-mail routing and tracking system that adds ‘intelligence’ to the process of collecting, distributing, answering, and tracking customer messages.”

Nelson King
Serverwatch


“Before VisNetic MailFlow we did not know, at a glance, how many emails were received to which address and how long it would take to answer them. We needed more statistics, more information and your product gave us that."

Ken Anderson
Lowrance Electronics, Inc.


“I could not imagine running our business without VMF: our goal is to provide excellent responses to email requests as quickly as possible. With VMF agents never miss a message and management can track performance and review quality.”

Luca Trotta
Summer In Italy


“The incorporation of MailFlow into our business processes has enabled us to become recognized as the leader in our sector for customer support without the need to employ more staff.”

Craig Davis
Take A Break Away

VisNetic Mailflow's Cousin gets a Boost!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Most of you are aware that Deerfield.com offers a companion mail server product (VisNetic MailServer aka VMS) that compliments the MailFlow email customer service solution; providing a nice on-premise solution and alternative to Microsoft Exchange.  

Well, this week we've introduced V9.3 of VisNetic MailServer to the general public after a year+ of development and testing.  There are some great new features, bug fixes and performance enhancements that make VMS the premier POP3, SMTP, IMAP, and Groupware email server in the industry!  For a complete list of features and improvements take a look here.

Using VisNetic MailServer in conjunction with MailFlow lowers administrative overhead by allowing MailFlow admin's the ability to synchronize VMS email boxes (users) with MailFlow agents.  So - once a user's mailbox is created in VMS - the same credentials are used for that individual to log into MailFlow.  Also - MailFlow can use VMS for it email send and receive functions.

For complete information on VisNetic MailServer, visit the VMS home page located here.

Collaboration is a Beautiful Thing

Thursday, November 20, 2008




One of the 1001 things I love about MailFlow is how it’s so conducive to collaboration. The product is inherently built for sharing, being installed on a single server where any number of Agents and Admins can login and access the same email, reports, configs, etc, as opposed to isolated email clients on their own workstations.

As a regular ol Joe Six Pack (I refuse to let this saying go) working in MailFlow there are several features I use every day for collaboration. The first is ticket boxes. Ticket boxes are shared inboxes that allow multiple Agents to concurrently respond to the same stream of messages, without duplicating efforts. Should an Agent get all Mavericky (OK, I’ll stop : ) and try to respond to a message an Agent is already replying to, they will receive an error message. Ticket boxes are built for teamwork, allowing a group of Agents to work through an inbox and answer messages as quickly as possible. Not only are Agents working together to get the job done, but there also tends to be (there certainly is internally at Deerfield) a friendly sense of competition to see who can answer messages quickly and contribute most. This shared responsibility for clearing out an inbox, in our experience, produces better customer service and response times than the outdated one-man distribution method still used by many organizations, where one poor sap reads and forwards each message to specific individuals.

Notes in MailFlow are another feature that allow users to share critical information internally. Notes can be created at the Ticket or Contact level. A practical application of this feature I run into on a daily basis is, a message comes into our Sales ticket box with a smattering of sales questions and a sprinkle of high level technical questions. Being in the sales department, I answer the sales questions (most professionally I must say : ) and write in the message that a Technician will be following up with him/her momentarily with answers to their technical questions. I send the reply, but leave the ticket open, add a Note to the ticket indicating the sales questions have been answered, ask the Tech to answer the more technical questions, and include any other relevant details, such as the customer’s ID number, order number, etc, then I change ownership of the ticket to the Support ticketbox, and wallah! The Tech has all of the info he/she needs to answer the customer’s questions, the customer receives knowledgeable responses to all of their questions, and everyone lives happily ever after.

Speaking of Notes, a new feature was recently added to MailFlow called Phone Notes. This feature allows Agents to indicate that a note is in reference to a phone call and leave notes on the conversation for all in MailFlow to see. A Phone Note window can automagically be triggered within MailFlow simply by selecting a Contact and clicking the Call button (this feature assumes integration with 3CX IP PBX). Once a Phone Note is created it is tied to the contact, and Agents are able to view all of the contact’s phone and email history at a glance.

VisNetic MailFlow 3.8.1 Released!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Deerfield.com is pleased to announce the release of VisNetic MailFlow 3.8.1.

MailFlow 3.8.1 introduces several new Reports including:

Ticket Count Summary - Report provides a Ticket count for open and closed Tickets over a specified date range by TicketBox, Ticket category, or Owner. User is able to select one, multiple, or all values to report on at the same time.

Open Tickets - Report provides a Ticket count for open and closed Tickets over a specified date range by TicketBox, Ticket category, or Owner. User is able to select one, multiple, or all values to report on at the same time. Results display all non-closed tickets created on or prior to the specified date. The report also provides TicketBox Name, linked Message ID to review actual message, message subject, Notes associated with the Ticket, Ticket Category, and Owner.

TicketBox Details - Report provides a Ticket count for open and closed Tickets over a specified date range by TicketBox broken out by owner. User is able to select one, multiple, or all TicketBoxes to report on at the same time.

The 3.8.1 release also brings improved overall performance and several bug fixes:

Fixed issue where renaming subject of Outbound Messages would fail.

Fixed issue where inline images in messages from Lotus Notes v7.0.1 were not being properly processed.

VisNetic MailFlow 3.8.1 may be downloaded from: http://www.deerfield.com/download/visnetic-mailflow/

[Release Notes for MailFlow 3.8.1 and previous releases are available at: http://www.deerfield.com/support/visnetic-mailflow/releasenotes/

Questions? Please contact the Deerfield.com Sales Dept at 800.599.8856 or sales@deerfield.com.

Customer Email: Handle with Care

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

The viability of a business is built upon strong customer relationships – at the core of which is trust. Effective communications build customer trust. The vast majority of customer communications occur electronically – and email is a primary media. Yet when customers conduct business via email, they may feel apprehensive:
  • Will my message be intercepted, treated as “low priority,” or worse, not handled at all?
  • Will my message be categorized improperly, and, if so, will I receive a boilerplate response to a question that I didn’t ask?
Effective communications occur when the customer can message within an environment that feels comfortable, such as, email – without jeopardizing quality of service. Conversely, the business’s customer care agent must be trained to understand the unique communication characteristics of email versus instant messaging, voice and other customer-facing media. Similarly, customer care management must be able to measure the quality of email handling against business activity. Noticeable causes of email mismanagement include:
  • Over-reliance on auto responders
  • Over-reliance on ad hoc, agent-created messages to customers
  • Poorly defined handling processes
  • Poorly defined management of handling processes
  • Poor or lack of process for knowledge-sharing among agents
Email mismanagement can be subtle and inconspicuous. Common cases include:
  • Using a “one size fits all” technology model across business units and functional areas – such as, sales, marketing, public relations, fulfillment and customer care. Some examples:
  1. ­ Customer relationship management (CRM) applications
  2. ­ Content management systems with integrated email capability
  3. ­ Email response management systems (ERMS)
  4. ­ “Home-grown” applications
  • An architecturally complex email management technology, which may “work” though not optimally.
  • Statistical reports, instead of analytic reports that align statistics to business activity
  • Whether noticeable or subtle, the results are the same, which include:
  1. Delays in responding to customer inquiries
  2. Lack of administrative oversight and accountability
  3. Ongoing failures in meeting service level agreements
Managing customer email is technically and culturally different from managing customer inquiries through other media types, such as chat and voice. The customer care center must understand those differences -- from the customer’s perspective.

Customers use the communicative media that feels comfortable and efficiently meet their needs.
Email is a preferred means of communication by customers who do not have the time or desire for a live discussion (as is the case with chat and voice). Email messaging provides a written and machine-dated record of each discussion between a customer care agent and the customer. Email messages are sent at the customer’s convenience – that is, without relevance to the customer care center’s “open for business” hours.

Email messaging uses “store and forward” routing. Nonetheless, the customer expects near “real-time” responsiveness. The “clock starts ticking” as soon as the customer clicks the send button.

VisNetic MailFlow:

VisNetic MailFlow is focused solely on the management of customer email. The framework is intuitive in design, so as to humanize the relationship between the customer care agent and the customer. This one-to-one relationship emulates the interactive nature of chat and voice within an email message conversation. Similar to PBX routing of individual phone lines, VisNetic MailFlow automatically routes customer email messages to the appropriate customer care agent.

A business that can humanize the customer’s email-inquiry experience can influence customer trust and customer loyalty. Customer email management, however, can be unruly. VisNetic MailFlow provides an affordable and easily manageable software solution. Ease-of-use, along with rich agent-centric functionality and management reports, means that agents can center on the customer’s needs – without interference from the technology or process.

Standard Responses? More like Stellar Responses!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Blogger Universe. Don Hoyt again. One of the things I’d like to talk about on this Blog are the features in MailFlow that the MailFlow community of users know, love, and of course, take for granted, but that non-MailFlow users are missing out on. Today, I’d like to talk about standard responses.

Pre MailFlow, I was an ambitious young man who was genius enough (or so I thought) to copy my most often used emails into a Word doc. Every morning I’d open it up and throughout the day copy and paste messages into Outlook. A few problems with this strategy: one is that I can’t share all of my poetic prose with colleagues, and going from Outlook to Word, then scanning through my library of responses, copying the exact, applicable text and pasting it into the appropriate spot in Outlook was cumbersome to say the least.

While MailFlow customers around the globe have different environments and utilize different features, the feature that customers utilize as much as any other, and appreciate immediately when they start using MailFlow, is standard responses. The amount of time that this feature saves is astronomical and the level of uniform quality assurance, especially for users coming from no collaborative message sharing to MailFlow, is a giant leap. Some of the things I love about our implementation:

1. My colleagues make me look good. Because this is a global SR library, I can use the SR’s created by colleagues that are more proficient in some areas than myself, and get the correct message across to the customer. This is a great way to share knowledge between your staff.
2. MailFlow Knows Me So Well. MailFlow automatically keeps track of which standard responses I use most often and gives me a quick menu to choose from. Turns out our customers have a lot of the same questions on their minds, and instead of clicking through the library of responses, I’m just one click away from SR’s I use on a daily basis. It’s a little thing, but it saves a whole lot of time.
3. Sky’s the Limit. There’s no limit to the amount of Categories of SR’s or SR’s in each category. You can make your categories and responses as broad or as granular as you like.
4. Just the Right Amount of Automation. Depending on the amount of email your organization receives, amount of staff devoted to email, and the importance/value of a lead in your organization, it’s tempting to want to have your email system analyze inbound messages and automatically send a response that (hopefully… fingers crossed) adequately answers customer questions. Looking at systems that provide this functionality, one thing is clear, there is no way to guarantee an accurate, automated response to inbound inquiries. And while some organizations might be comfortable with an “X” % accuracy rate, the result of an errant response to a customer that took the time to write your organization is lost business opportunities, and this truly goes against the way MailFlow is designed. So (stepping off my customer service soapbox), MailFlow instead allows you to enter “keywords” that apply to each SR you create, then it indexes each inbound message and presents Agents with a percentage likelihood that a SR would apply. This “suggestion” implementation is the best way we’ve found to introduce a level of automation into SR’s, but we still find that some level of manual selection or sanity checking is best.

MailFlow V3.8.1 to Offer Improved Reporting

Friday, October 24, 2008

We're planning on releasing an minor VisNetic MailFlow (V3.8.1) GA build in the near future that will feature some new pre-defined reports, and a couple of under the hood bug fixes.

The reporting features were added in direct response to the needs of our customers. New reports available in MailFlow V3.8.1 include Open Tickets, which will allow you to view the status of all the open tickets in MailFlow by ticketbox, owner, or category, over a specific time period. The new Ticket Count Summary report will show you (again, for a specific time period) the number of tickets open and closed also by ticketbox, owner, or category. The final new report added is the TicketBox Details report that provides information (on a per ticketbox basis) the number of tickets open and closed, the closed percentage (a measure of efficiency) and what agent "owns" them.

The best way to get a look at the new reporting feature are to visit our online live demo system and set up an account. Once you are logged into MaiFlow, select the "reporting" tab in the left pane and select the new report you wish to view.

Introductions

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Hello Blogger Community. Don Hoyt here. Long time blog reader, first time blogger. I’m here to talk about VisNetic MailFlow, email customer service, and other ramblings from the perspective of a long time MailFlow user, and someone who’s worked closely with the MailFlow development and marketing teams over the years. I’d also like to delve into day to day life with MailFlow as someone using MailFlow each day to communicate with clients and gather information, to examine practical applications of MailFlow and why it’s just so darned handy.

First, a little bit about myself and what I do. My official title is Marketing and Sales Representative with Deerfield.com. So, when you send an email or call in to Deerfield.com , and ask for additional product information, can MailFlow do this or that, questions on pricing, licensing, etc., I’m your man. But, in addition to marketing and selling VisNetic MailFlow, I’m also a client, and quite possibly, its biggest fan.

I was introduced to email management software when I began working at Deerfield.com in the spring of 2000. At that time, VisNetic MailFlow was just a gleam in our developers’ eyes… We used an email management application called Adante (no longer in development).

My first impressions of email management software were:

1) It was an easy, and logical way for me to segregate my communications between customers/channel partners and internal staff. I continued to use Outlook for my internal communications with Deerfield staff, appointments, and calendar info, but all customer correspondence was routed through our email management application.
2) It allowed our sales staff and myself to respond concurrently to emails in one inbox as a team – which promoted team work and helped us quickly answer all inbound emails.
3) Traditional email clients that I had used up till then could not have sufficiently addressed the needs of a company like ours, that was receiving hundreds of emails a day, and had double digit staff members all answering or referring to customer emails – we needed a tool that was specifically designed for email customer service.

While Adante gave us the fundamental functionality we were looking for (automated message routing, email queues, customer history, etc.), we felt that it was lacking features that we, and businesses like us, would benefit from on a daily basis, and the interface and usability were a bit clunky. So, with a tremendous amount of customer email correspondence and a work force begging for a solution that better fit their needs, we did what any good electronic software distributor with a knowledgeable and professional development staff would do: Toga party! But after the party, and a few dozen pots of coffee, we decided to create our own solution based on our experiences and feedback from our channel partners and end users. And hence, VisNetic MailFlow was born.


At Deerfield.com, we distribute 16 different products, ranging from dynamic dns to IP PBX’s, and everything in between. VisNetic MailFlow is a product that is near and dear to our hearts due to the fact that soooo many companies would benefit tremendously from MailFlow, but they continue to carry on with their traditional, isolated mail clients, oblivious to the fact that customer emails are being answered improperly or are going unanswered altogether. So we continue to fight the good fight, improving email customer service one business at a time.

More Than Ever, Everyone Counts!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

What a contrast today to the economy of the 1990's and the early 2000's as those of us in the tech sector, and many other manufacturing industries thought we could do no wrong. We felt invincible as we enjoyed growth of 40% + in sales and profits for a number of years. As we've progressed through the 2K's we've been reminded at many intervals that the economy is dynamic and every upturn is greeted with a downturn and vice versa.

It's hard to ignore that the current banking and financial crisis is unprecedented in most of our lifetimes and professional careers. Many of us have seen many years of earnings erased in just a short couple of weeks in our various retirement planning investments. However the most important play for all of us is what we do next. Will we react like Chicken Little, or like David against Goliath?

I believe that in challenging times - there are basically two types of individuals. The first type shouts "the sky is falling!" as they throw up their hands and run away. The second type of individual is ignited inside to not only survive, but persevere. I believe we must fall into the latter category.

What does this have to do with this blog about email customer service? Lots. Especially in times of tighter economic conditions customer service is king! A slower economy moves a seller's market toward a buyer's market. The value of a new customer rises exponentially. More vendors are competing more aggressively for less customers; whom are looking to maximize their purchase dollars. One quick and easy way to lose a customer is to ignore their email inquiry of your company. Remember, when dealing with sales organizations - many customers prefer email because they can avoid the hassle of being hard-sold by a sales associate over the telephone. But, if you do not respond quickly, they will move to another vendor. In the minds of the email/web savvy customer, response time is a measure of a company's overall stability. The first impression, and sometimes the last.

The unfortunate thing is that if online-enabled companies knew how poorly they were handling their customers email, they wouldn't stand for it. Sometimes we don't know what we don't know, and study after study seems to indicate that companies do not realize they are alienating their customers by mishandling their customer service email.

MailFlow can help reduce or eliminate this problem entirely. If you are using the web and email to reach your customers, you owe it to your organization to honestly assess your ability to handle your customer service email. Especially in challenging times every customer is an important customer.

MailFlow To Get Performance Mods

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Today, we'll talk a little bit about what we're working on for the initial release of MailFlow V4, and the reasoning behind doing so.

In the early life of VisNetic MailFlow, the product was positioned to meet the needs of SOHO's and SMB's, and MailFlow enjoyed growth in these sectors. As the product and its market have evolved over the years, MailFlow is finding it's way into larger email customer service departments. Additionally, many of MailFlow's customers who originally bought SOHO/SMB license sizes have upgraded to much larger user sizes. These customer have started to ask us for infrastructure level features such as load balancing, and high availability, while also wanting more granular control over security features. Up to and including the most recent version of MailFlow, we concentrated primarily on usability features, however a fair amount of work has been done in the security area of the product and logical customer service team load balancing.

For those of you that enjoy the geeky details, here's what's up. Currently, MailFlow is presently limited to running a single instance of the Web (EMSIsapi.dll) and Engine (MailFlowEngine.exe) services against the MailFlow SQL database. This limitation is acceptable to most small business users, however as the MailFlow enabled organization grows, incoming customer service email increases, and more agents are needed to respond to them. Most online enabled companies refer to this as a "good" problem to have. However, with this growth the need to scale the Web and Engine services to support load distribution and fail-over in MailFlow also grows.

We have a healthy list of user-contributed usability features that we plan to implement in VisNetic MailFlow V4, however in the interim release - we are going to work on the "engine and drive train", and improve the product in 2 main areas. The first iteration of v4 will address the aforementioned limitations by allowing for the addition of any number of MailFlow Web and Engine servers to be run against a single MailFlow database. Extending MailFlow to support multiple servers will specifically address the following:

Scalability:
  • If Agent web access performance is degraded, additional Web Services servers can be added. Agent access to these servers can be configured in any number of ways, including restricting access to a single or multiple server(s) by Agent or Agent Group. Web Services Server access can also be managed by implementing load-balancing solutions and/or by manipulating DNS (round-robin, etc.).
  • In addition to Web Services, additional Engine Services Servers can be added; the backend responsibilities these servers perform can be configured via the MailFlow Administration panel. Message Collection, Message Delivery, Database Maintenance and Scheduled Report Processing can be assigned to one or many Engine Servers.
Security and Availability:
  • The ability to add Web and Engine Servers to a MailFlow installation greatly enhances fail-over security. This can be accomplished by utilizing industry available fail-over systems and services for Windows servers.
  • MailFlow will also support the automatic fail-over of back end Engine responsibilities to other servers, if a server goes offline for a pre-determined period of time.
Adding these enhancements to MailFlow now will ensure that we have the solid foundation that we need to build a great feature set upon. Once this initial work is completed (much is already done now by our development team) we will continue to roll out usability improvements based on the feedback of our users. We also have a new client application in the works that will improve VoIP integration, email notifications and overall presence information.

The Value of Human Intervention

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Email Response Management vs Email Customer Service ...

I guess if you are actually reading this blog (I am entirely grateful) that you have at least a passing interest in VisNetic MailFlow, or Email Customer Service issues. Even if that is the case, I can not assume that you are so "into it" that you fully understand the offerings and technology available and the complex variety of offerings in this space. Speaking further about the article that I posted earlier in the week, I do however want to talk to you about one important distinction that you should consider if you are looking for a way to improve your handling of customer service email.

In the realm of email management tools and efficiently handling and responding to incoming customer service email - there are two main paths to follow. The first would be email self-service - aka Email Response Management, or human intervened - aka Email Customer Service. Both technologies have similarities in the way email is processed, and both are in use in scenarios where the email originates from a customer or business partner into the organization and needs to be responded to. How this is accomplished is where the two approaches differ greatly, and selecting the right tool is paramount.

Email Response Management solutions are design to be primarily a "self help" tool. They work essentially by combining a canned response database with a weighted search matching engine. A typical usage scenario would be that an email from a customer would arrive and the system would search for best match entries in the database, then automatically deliver a response to the customer without any (or very limited) human intervention. Some solutions contain a quality assurance tool that "surveys" the customer to see if the response actually helped them. From the
previous article posted on this blog, you can see that these types of solutions are implemented (in a large number) improperly. I believe that this type of tool is of most value to an organization that is repeatedly asked the same type of questions over and over, with very little deviation. They are also good for companies that want to have the appearance that they are a larger company, even though they might not actually have any customer service employees. And of course, the very large companies that have such a large amount of inbound email that they can not justify the cost associated with looking at every one. Microsoft is an example of a company that uses Email Response Management for many support functions. If you do not fall into one of these three categories, then you may actually be alienating your customers by using a solution like this.

Email Customer Service tools like
VisNetic MailFlow are designed for companies that have a mix of "like" and "unique" questions from their customers. There's just enough variation in the types of incoming inquiries they are fielding, that answering them automatically from a pre-populated database is not providing adequate customer service. However, MailFlow uses the weighted matching technology of an Email Response System, although the answer is typically not sent automatically. MailFlow contains a user populated "Standard Response" database that can be matched against the incoming email inquiry. The main difference however is that normally the response is reviewed by a human (we call them "agents"), edited if necessary - then sent on to the customer. It combines the best of automated processing with human intervention. So, for many this would be the solution of choice so you can accurately answer your incoming email in a timely manner more efficiently.

Who decided that we don't need to people to answer people anyway ;-)

Email Response Woeful, Says Jupiter

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Per Jupiter Research, circa 2006 (and still not any better today):

"Though 92 percent of ecommerce websites offer email as a customer-support option, only 41 percent of those sites acknowledge receipt of customers' messages with automated email responses, according to a new JupiterResearch report. The retail category results remained relatively consistent with previous years', but in other industries, such as finance and travel, auto-acknowledgement decreased significantly. Since 2000, the number of sites responding to emails within 24 hours continues to decrease, according to the report, titled "U.S. Customer Service & Support Metrics, December 2005."

Only 45 percent of sites resolved email inquiries within 24 hours; however, fully 39 percent of sites took three days or longer or did not respond at all. JupiterResearch points to two factors for such unresponsiveness: the continuing increase in email volume and broad failure among contact centers to invest in appropriate email handling technology.

"Failure to resolve requests via email is driving continued use of cost-intensive telephone work, negating any potential cost savings from handling inquiries via email," said David Schatsky, SVP of Research at JupiterResearch."

How using MailFlow can Solve These Problems:

1. MailFlow has a built-in autoresponder system, that can let your customers immediately know that you received their email inquiry.

2. MailFlow is a completely centralized, multi-user, email system that is accessed using an ordinary web browser from any network (or Internet) connected PC.

3. Using MailFlow, email workload is easily distributed when a customer service rep is not available.  Other reps are able to easily see and respond to messages (with complete history kept in "tickets") when a rep is away or on vacation.

4. MailFlow is available from any Internet kiosk, hotel laptop, or home computer.

MailFlow has built-in tools that make answering customer service email quick, easy, consistent, and accurate.

5. MailFlow contains the reporting tools management needs to ensure customer service quality, and staff load balancing.

6. MailFlow is very affordable.

Five Errors That Cost You Customers

Friday, September 19, 2008

Yesterday, while lurking around the web, I happened across this article written by Leslie O'Flahavan and Marilynne Rudick of E-WRITE. I have to admit that I am thrilled to see a piece of narrative work that almost perfectly illustrates the problems entities face managing and responding to their incoming customer service email. These 5 issues (and more) are exactly the reason that VisNetic MailFlow exists, and the problem it was designed to solve. Thank you ladies for so eloquently stating the problem to our readers. Editors Note - reprinted from the E-WRITE website:

What's the state-of-the-art of customer service e-mail? To find out, we sent out hundreds of customer service questions and requests via e-mail. We've e-mailed everyone–from Fortune 500s to ma-and-pa companies, from public corporations to nonprofits and government agencies. What we've learned:

* Lots of customer service representatives lack the basic writing skills they need to communicate with customers

* Lots of companies are sending out embarrassing, inaccurate, business-damaging e-mail disguised as "help."

As we analyze the e-mail responses, five common e-mail errors emerged.

1. Don't Write Us We Won't Write You

The Mayor's website urged citizens to send e-mail and promised a timely response. We sent an e-mail complaining about a garbage pickup. We got no response, untimely by any measure.

2. Give Customers The No-Answer Run-Around

A surprisingly high number of our e-mails got no response. We were annoyed and puzzled. Didn't this company want our business, the politician our vote? The no-responders lost our business and, if we had been their customers in the past, our loyalty. We'll be doing business with the competition from now on.

3. Send The Wrong Canned Response

Sometimes we got a one-size-fits-all response that probably fits no one. For example, we sent the following question to a financial aid information service: "I have a daughter, age 8. I would like information about saving for her college costs." We received a 1200-word answer that told us everything we DIDN'T want to know about the necessary forms and the filing deadlines for scholarships. The e-mail said nothing about SAVING for college.

We understand that auto responders and “canned” responses are practical. We appreciate a machine-generated response that acknowledges our e-mail and gives a timeframe for a "human" response. However, we were quite irked when the response didn't meet the promised timeframe, didn't answer our question or failed to answer all our questions.

In another query, we asked a senior citizen's organization "Do you have a list of summer camps that grandchildren and grandparents can attend together?" We were sent back to the website for a keyword search. The customer service representative wrote: "With our enhanced online services, you can now search our catalogs by topic or other keyword via our web site." Is it too much to expect customer service to do the search to find the information or know their products well enough to answer the question?

4. Give The Customer No Satisfaction

Sometimes the company did an adequate job of answering our question, but the response did not acknowledge our pain and suffering or our value as a customer. For example, we sent this e-mail about a bill we'd received for a magazine subscription: "You have sent me three bills for your magazine since I made my payment. Would you please make sure that I don't receive another bill?"

The subscription company finally solved the problem with the bill, but the e-mail response it sent us did not satisfy. The company wrote: "We have your payment." The company didn't acknowledge or apologize for our pain and inconvenience. Each customer service e-mail is an opportunity to build a relationship with a customer. Each response should make the customer feel valued.

5. Send A Sloppy Response

Some companies that sent us e-mail had clearly adopted the "it's only e-mail" attitude. They decided somewhere along the line that e-mail was so casual that spelling and grammar don't matter. Here's the e-mail response we received to our question about a product guarantee. "Our product quarantee is Gauranteed Period." This response made us wonder. Is the company as sloppy about shipping as it is about spelling? Would the package arrive by Christmas, as promised?

What do these five e-mail errors tell us? Many companies need an attitude adjustment when it comes to customer service e-mail. Perhaps the benchmark of a successful customer service e-mail effort should be the quality of the response, not how many e-mails are answered per hour. Did the e-mail response serve the customer? If not, companies risk alienating customers and hurting the bottom line.

Using a Gmail Account as a MailFlow Message Source

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

"How to collect mail from Gmail with MailFlow", courtesy of Kevin Fortune, Deerfield.com technician.

In its current form, VisNetic MailFlow does not support Secure POP3 or IMAP connections. However using a 3rd party program called Stunnel this process can be completed quite easily.

Follow these steps from within Gmail to allow POP3 Collection:
  1. Log into Gmail
  2. Click on Settings at the top
  3. Click on the Forwarding and POP/IMAP option
  4. Enable the option Enable POP for all mail (even mail that's already been downloaded) This option will allow you to collect all the mail that is stored in your Gmail account
  5. Specify under option 2 to keep Gmail's copy in the Inbox. This option keeps your mail as it currently is in Gmail
  6. Click Save Changes

Screenshot: https://support.deerfield.com/kayakov3/images/VMFGmailSettings.JPG

Now MailFlow is creating a POP3 Connection from itself to Stunnel. Stunnel is then creating the Secure connection to the Gmail Servers and collecting the mail. All logging will be accessible via the MailFlow log file.



Now we will need to download Stunnel
Once downloaded follow these steps:
  1. Run the installation, which will install the program and all required files, by default, to c:\program files\stunnel\
  2. After Stunnel has been installed, open Windows Explorer and navigate to the c:\program files\stunnel\ directory
  3. There should be a file installed called stunnel.conf. Open this file with Notepad
  4. Delete all the contents of the file and paste in the following:
    ; Sample stunnel configuration file by Michal Trojnara 2002-2006
    ; Some options used here may not be adequate for your particular configuration

    ; Certificate/key is needed in server mode and optional in client mode
    ; The default certificate is provided only for testing and should not
    ; be used in a production environment
    cert = stunnel.pem
    ;key = stunnel.pem

    ; Some performance tunings
    socket = l:TCP_NODELAY=1
    socket = r:TCP_NODELAY=1

    ; Workaround for Eudora bug
    ;options = DONT_INSERT_EMPTY_FRAGMENTS

    ; Authentication stuff
    ;verify = 2 ; Don't forget to c_rehash CApath ;CApath = certs
    ; It's often easier to use CAfile
    ;CAfile = certs.pem
    ; Don't forget to c_rehash CRLpath
    ;CRLpath = crls
    ; Alternatively you can use CRLfile
    ;CRLfile = crls.pem

    ; Some debugging stuff useful for troubleshooting
    ;debug = 7
    ;output = stunnel.log

    ; Use it for client mode
    client = yes

    ; Service-level configuration

    # SERVICE-LEVEL OPTIONS

    [SMTP Gmail ]
    accept = 127.0.0.1:1099
    connect = smtp.gmail.com:465

    [POP3 Gmail ]
    accept = 127.0.0.1:111
    connect = pop.gmail.com:995

    ;[https]
    ;accept = 443
    ;connect = 80
    ;TIMEOUTclose = 0

    ; vim:ft=dosini

  5. Save the file
  6. Click on Start then go to Programs Then go to stunnel
  7. Select Service Install
  8. Once the Service is Installed the setup of Stunnel is complete


Now onto VisNetic MailFlow
  1. Log into MailFlow as an Administrator
  2. Click on the Administration button on the left hand side
  3. Expand Message Handling and select Message Sources
  4. Create a new Message Source
  5. Set the Server Address to be localhost
  6. Enter in a Description
  7. Set the Port to 111
  8. For the Username enter in your Gmail Username
  9. For the Password enter in your Gmail Password
  10. Configure the rest of the options as needed
  11. Click Save

Screenshot: https://support.deerfield.com/kayakov3/images/VMFGmailMessageSource.JPG

Now MailFlow is creating a POP3 Connection from itself to Stunnel. Stunnel is then creating the Secure connection to the Gmail Servers and collecting the mail. All logging will be accessible via the MailFlow log file.

3CX and Deerfield.com Bring PBX Integration to Email Management

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Gaylord, MI – September 16, 2008 – Deerfield.com and 3CX announce the release of VisNetic MailFlow version 3.8, an email management system with integrated support for 3CX Phone System.

VisNetic MailFlow 3.8 is a momentous release for both VisNetic MailFlow and 3CX customers, as the combination of the two products gives them an end to end customer service solution,” said Mike Deerfield, CEO of Deerfield.com - developers of VisNetic MailFlow. “Features like click to call, telephone conversation time stamps and call notes allow MailFlow customers to easily call their contacts within MailFlow and record – and refer back to – their telephone conversations, while 3CX users not currently employing an email management solution will benefit greatly from MailFlow features such as: automatic email routing, shared email queues, standard responses and reporting. Deerfield.com also fully supports both products and can provide all of the necessary assistance to ensure a smooth installation.”

VisNetic MailFlow is an email customer service solution for Windows used by thousands of organizations that provides: email routing and tracking, reporting, standard responses, a global contact database, customer email history tracking, and much more. 3CX Phone System for Windows is a multi award-winning software-based IP PBX that replaces traditional proprietary hardware PBX. It is based on the SIP standard, and therefore interoperates with most popular SIP phones, VoIP Gateways and VoIP providers.

“3CX is designed for and used by businesses that require a high level of functionality and reliability in a phone system, but are also knowledgeable and budget conscious enough to avoid high overhead or administrative phone system costs,” said Nick Galea, CEO of 3CX. “Similarly, VisNetic MailFlow is an email management application offered by Deerfield.com [3CX North American Distributors] that provides all of the necessary tools to ensure a high level of email customer service, but is also reasonably priced and easy to administer. The marriage of these products provides users with an advanced and affordable integrated communication system that can manage and track all of an organizations’ email and telephony traffic.”

About VisNetic MailFlow VisNetic MailFlow is an email management solution designed for businesses who wish to improve their level of email customer service and business intelligence. VisNetic MailFlow combines excellent affordability with super-fast deployment capability and extremely low management burden to offer an incredibly compelling value. First released in 2002, making is one of the most mature email management applications. Today, VisNetic MailFlow is used by over 22,000 agents worldwide – a sampling of which include John Hopkins Medicine, Boston Globe, Blue Nile, Gold Medal Travel Group, Guess Inc. and Lowrance Electronics. Flexible licensing terms includes a 30-day “try before you buy” download and free technical support. Useful Links: VisNetic MailFlow website: http://www.deerfield.com/products/visnetic-mailflow/Request a Guided Demo: http://www.deerfield.com/products/visnetic-mailflow/demo/index.htmDatasheet: http://www.visneticmailflow.com/resources/vmf_datasheet_v3.pdf

About 3CX and 3CX Phone System for Windows
3CX is an international developer of telecommunications software, headquartered in Europe with offices in the UK, Germany, Cyprus, Malta, USA, Australia and Hong Kong. It is a Microsoft Gold Certified partner and is backed by an experienced management and development team. 3CX Phone System for Windows is an award-winning software-based IP PBX that replaces a traditional proprietary hardware PBX. It is entirely SIP standard based, and therefore interoperates with leading SIP phones, VoIP Gateways and VoIP providers. 3CX’s IP PBX has earned Windows Server 2003 Certification and has been developed specifically for the SMB market with a full set of features that make it simple to install and manage. For more information on 3CX, 3CX Phone System for Windows and 3CX VoIP Phone visit http://www.3cx.com/.





Press Contact: Don Hoyt dhoyt@deerfield.com Tel: (989) 732-8856

How to make a call from within VisNetic MailFlow

Article 3 of 3 explaining the steps to implement VoIP in MailFlow with the 3CX IP PBX Phone System:

To make a call from within VisNetic MailFlow follow these steps:

  1. Ensure the following two articles have been followed:
    Enable VOIP in VisNetic MailFlow
    How to Create a VOIP Extension for an Agent

  2. Login to VisNetic MailFlow
  3. Search for a Contact by clicking on Contacts on the Left Hand Side
  4. Select the contact that was located and click on the Properties button at the top
  5. Click on the Call button at the top

This now will bring up the VOIP Call window
  1. Verify that the information listed in the FROM section is correct
  2. The Contact Name should be displayed in the TO section
  3. Verify which Dialing Code has been selected to be used
  4. Next enter in the phone number for this contact if one has not been specified already
  5. Click Dial

Source



Once the call has started the Phone Notes window will open allowing the Agent to enter in phone notes while a timer is tracking how long the call has been established.

Source

How to Create a VOIP Extension for an Agent

Article 2 of 3 explaining the steps to implement VoIP in MailFlow with the 3CX IP PBX Phone System:

In order to create a VOIP Extension for an Agent within VisNetic MailFlow follow these steps:

  1. Ensure that Enable VOIP in VisNetic MailFlow has been followed to enable VOIP
  2. Log into VisNetic MailFlow
  3. Click on Preferences on the left hand side menu
  4. Click on the VOIP Extensions tab
  5. Click the New button
  6. Enter in a Description
  7. Now Specify whether this Extension is to be Enabled for this Agent
  8. Next Specify whether this Extension is to be the Default extension for this Agent
  9. Next Specify the VOIP Server from the Drop Down menu
  10. Next Specify the Extension this Agent has assigned on the VOIP Server
  11. Next Specify the PIN this Agent has assigned on the VOIP Server for their Extension

Source


Follow this Article for any other Extensions that this Agent would need to have created for them.

Enable VOIP in VisNetic MailFlow

With the upcoming release of MailFlow V3.8, Kevin Fortune - Deerfield.com technician has created the following guides for successfully integrating the 3CX IP PBX Telephony server, with MailFlow creating a complete email / telephone customer service solution. This is 1 of 3:

To Enable Voice Over IP (VOIP) in VisNetic MailFlow, follow these steps:

  1. Log into VisNetic MailFlow as an Administrator
  2. Click on the Administration button on the lower left hand corner
  3. Expand Voice Over IP (VOIP)
  4. Click on Settings
  5. Check Enabled under VOIP Integration

Source



Now that VOIP Integration is enabled, we need to configure the VOIP Server information.

  1. Click on Servers on the Left Hand side under Voice Over IP (VOIP)
  2. Click New
  3. Enter in a Description for this VOIP Server
  4. Specify for this VOIP Server to be Enabled
  5. Next you can specify whether you want this VOIP server to be the Default VOIP Server that MailFlow uses
  6. Next specify the Server Type. Currently only 3CX is a supported VOIP Server
  7. Now enter in the Hostname of the VOIP server
  8. Finally enter in the Port the VOIP server is listening on. With 3CX, by Default this is port 5481

Source



Now that the VOIP Server is specified, dialing rules must be configured for the VOIP Server:
  1. Click on the VOIP Server that we just created
  2. In the Lower portion of the screen you will now see Dialing Codes Click New
  3. Enter a Description for this Dialing Rule
  4. Specify for this Dialing Code to be Enabled
  5. Specify whether this Dialing Code should be the Default Dialing Code that MailFlow uses
  6. Now Specify the Dialing Code itself. When dealing with 3CX this will relate to the Outbound Rules you create.

Source

Using Firefox with MailFlow

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

A somewhat well kept secret is that now you can use Mozilla Firefox with MailFlow if you prefer. From inception, MailFlow was designed to be used by desktop computers running Windows and IE (5.5 and above). Now, through the use of a free Firefox plug-in you can use MailFlow with either IE or Firefox under Windows. In our experience, there is no degradation of performance with Firefox, and it is very stable.

Here are the details provided to you courtesy of Kevin Fortune, MailFlow technician:

NOTE: This article only applies to installations of Firefox that are installed on a Windows Operating System.

In order to use Firefox with VisNetic MailFlow, the following addon must be installed:

IETab – This addon is for Windows only

Once the addon is installed into Firefox follow these steps:
  1. Open Firefox
  2. Click on Tools
  3. Click on IETab Options
  4. Specify the URL you access MailFlow with, followed by a /* (For example: http://mailflow.domain.com/* ) NOTE: All entries need http:// before adding and also need /* at the end.
  5. Click Add

  6. Source

Now when you open this URL in FireFox the page will load in an IE Tab.

MailFlow V3.8 Release Notes

We're very close to a GA release of MailFlow V3.8, which will include some useful new features! Please find below the product release notes:

VisNetic MailFlow 3.8 - Features and Enhancements:

VoIP Integration - VisNetic MailFlow is now able to authenticate directly with PBX servers, allowing users to manage their email and voice communications centrally on the MailFlow server. Outbound telephone calls can now be initiated directly within MailFlow using the phone numbers associated with each Contact record. VisNetic MailFlow currently supports 3CX IP PBX for Windows.

Click to Call - initiate a phone call with a click, simply by selecting the appropriate contact, then clicking the Dial option. A phone call is initiated through the PBX, causing the extension to ring. When the Agent picks up the phone, the call is immediately made to the contact.

Phone Call Time Stamps and Notes - when a call is initiated in MailFlow a timer automatically starts. When the Agent completes the call and selects to stop the timer, the call time is recorded in the contact record. Conversation notes can also be recorded for each phone call, giving MailFlow users access to complete phone conversation history information.

Bulk Options - users may now take a bulk action on all of the tickets within a Ticketbox, including: moving tickets to a new ticketbox, and closing or deleting all tickets.

**********************************
Version 3.8.0.0
(GM Release)
**********************************

o Feature Enhancement: Added support for outbound VOIP calls via the 3CX IP PBX Server.

o Feature Enhancement: Added support for Phone Notes associated with Tickets and/or Contacts.

o Resolved Defect: Fixed issue where Purge All Tickets from trash would fail.

o Feature Enhancement: Added Bulk Actions option to TicketBoxes (Delete All and Change TicketState).

o Resolved Defect: Fixed issue where attachments of Content-Type: message/rfc822 were not being saved (are now saved as .eml files).

o Feature Enhancement: Added support for Ticket Lists and InboundMessage date utilizing the Email Date/Time.

o Feature Enhancement: Extended Ticket Search to include search by Inbound Message Date/Time.

3CX and VisNetic MailFlow Integration

Hey All;

Just a heads up. Deerfield.com is very close to having 3CX/MailFlow integration. This will allow MailFlow agents (users) to originate 3CX phone calls from a MailFlow contact record, or ticket with a simple click of a button. There is also a pop-up window that will allow agents to type in notes summarizing the call and an automatic timer that will time/date stamp the call and its duration. These notes will be attached to a ticket or contact record.

The basic way it works is this; Let's say that you're working in MailFlow and either viewing a ticket, or a contact record. You realize that you need to call the contact for whatever reason. You click the call button and your extension will ring at your desk, and you will pick it up as you would any other call. Once you pick it up (either via handset, or speakerphone) it will immediately call the other party. Simultaneously - a "Phone Notes" edit box will appear which will contain a time/date stamp, and a timer. Once the call is complete - just hit the "stop" button and the duration of the call will be displayed and recorded. You will also be able to type notes summarizing the call. Hit the save button - and Wolah.. you have a new contact record/ticket event recorded that will be viewable along with any other history associated with that contact record! Now you will have a single place to record all email and voice communications with your customers or contacts.

Contact records can have multiple phone numbers and these will be selectable from a drop down box and state is saved for defaults. Dialing rules are defined at the server level and can also be selected via drop down and state is saved.

For 3CX and MailFlow customers this should be pretty useful.

How Will MailFlow Benefit our Organization?

This is a question that we are asked often. Unfortunately, many times organizations' do not realize that they are losing opportunities and revenue as a result of their inability to answer customer service oriented email in a timely and accurate fashion. On the MailFlow site, Deerfield.com has compiled a list of documents that will explain the benefit of MailFlow to various enterprise departments. They are grouped by category:

In addition to these documents, several white papers and technical documents are available.

Making the Case for Customer Service Email Management

Why Do I Need VisNetic MailFlow?


The Internet provides streamlined, cost-effective channels for delivering products and services to customers. As a result, email communications are growing faster than any other form of customer interaction.

According to the Software Support Professionals Association, the average cost of a call center support call is $53, while email support queries cost only around $3 per message. For this reason, many organizations are actively encouraging email communications as the preferred means of customer interaction.

But as email load levels continue to grow explosively, responding to customer email inquiries will become more of a challenge. And according to Gartner Group, over 90% of enterprises are not adequately prepared to handle even current customer email volumes.

Meanwhile, traditional CRM (Customer Relationship Management) solutions have distanced themselves from the average business by being incredibly expensive ($30-100k+), difficult to manage, and requiring serious cultural changes to foster internal adoption. Ironically, small to medium sized businesses, with their limited budgets and strong focus on customer service, actually have the most to gain from the CRM concept.

VisNetic MailFlow is the equalizer your organization needs to stay effective and competitive in today's business environment. It quickly pays for itself by preventing the loss of a single customer.

Ask yourself these critical questions: How much email do you receive each day? Who replied to those emails, if anyone? What's the current status of those email inquiries (and customers)? What are customers asking of your company? Are customers receiving the right answers? How long do email messages remain unanswered (on average)? Who is answering emails the most efficiently & effectively? If the answers to the questions above are unavailable or unclear, then VisNetic MailFlow can help you to get a handle on these (and many other) critical customer relations issues.

More information:

Enabling Super Service with VisNetic MailFlow (PDF HTML)
VisNetic MailFlow Data Sheet (PDF HTML)

New VisNetic MailFlow Blog

Hi All! ...and Welcome to the VisNetic MailFlow Blog. We are looking forward to keeping you up to date on VisNetic MailFlow tips and tricks as well as addressing the issues organizations face to provide timely, accurate customer service email response.