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for clearing out an inbox, in our experience, produces better customer service and response times than the outdated one-man distribution method still used by many organizations, where one poor sap reads and forwards each message to specific individuals.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 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:

[Release Notes for MailFlow 3.8.1 and previous releases are available at:

Questions? Please contact the Sales Dept at 800.599.8856 or

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.