Email Integration in Customer Support and Incident Management

Of the various channels for customer support, email is probably the least productive.

With phone, chat, and self service there is a better chance that more needed information will be captured, either because there is instant interaction between the customer and a representative who can probe for more details in real time or because anything the customer finds on the self service web site can prompt a more clear explanation of the problem and what did or did not resolve the issue… plus the ability to get to a real person right away if needed (see phone and chat).

But customers still use email for support and complaints (especially if there is nothing else to use but the phone) and businesses still accept it. But once that email hits your server what happens to it?

  • How do you know you have an email requesting support or reporting a complaint?
  • How does it enter the customer support process?
  • How long does it take to address it?
  • How long is it before the customer receives any response?

Customers expect shorter and shorter response times for all support channels with email experiencing the largest change in expectations. People expect the phone and chat line to be answered promptly, within a minute or less. Web self service, by its very nature, gives instantaneous responses to search requests. But email…..

I know that, personally, I would have been OK with email response rates of 2-3 days for the type of request I would have used that channel for a few years ago. Now, customers are expecting responses within hours, sometimes as little as 1 hour or less.

The volume of email support requests you receive will depend on the type of product or service you offer and your customers’ preferences, of course. But if you do receive enough requests that it needs to be constantly monitored, there is more efficient way than simply designating a support rep to cover email.

You automate it.

When you choose your customer service and support software one of your requirements should be the ability to process incoming email:

  • customer can report a problem by sending an email to a mailbox such as
  • service and support software can parse the email message to find relevant data and use it to:
    • send suggested solutions from the knowledge base back to the customer and/or
    • create an incident ticket within the system and send a receipt to the customer along with the incident number
  • email can be associated with the correct customer and asset record
  • newly created ticket can be assigned according to business rules or other pre-defined criteria; assignee is automatically notified of new ticket
  • all subsequent email on the same incident can be captured and added to the incident record

And this is all done without the need for the intervention of a customer service representative (CSR).

The system just saved your support desk the time it would have taken someone to read the email, look for possible solutions in the knowledge base and type or paste them into the response, open a new ticket and copy/paste or type the email information into the ticket, assign the ticket, and notify to assignee if needed.

Multiply this by the number of emails reporting problems and complaints you receive per day and it can come up to a significant number.

If the ability to offer email support is a major issue for you, make sure your requirements for a customer service and support solution include automated email processing and integration. Map the process you now use to deal with an email complaint and use it to determine what you need the solution to do.

When it comes time to shop, this requirement will narrow down your choices but the solutions left to look at will be of better quality and well worth your time in exploring.



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