Dealing with the post-vacation blues: How long has it been since you got on top of the email flood?

    • We all need them. Most of us are probably longing for one right now. Yes, I’m talking about a vacation. After an exhausting series of projects and a stressful work routine, we’ve more than earned some time off. Quickly answer the last emails, turn on the auto-responder in Outlook and check the “complete” box. And away!

    • Two weeks later… 

      Feeling cheerful, with your batteries recharged, you saunter into the office. After telling your colleagues about your incredible trip, you sit down at your computer with a cup of coffee and open up Microsoft Outlook, your line of communication with the rest of the business world. The mailbox is updated. “You have 587 new messages”, the computer tells you dispassionately. What do you think – how long is that feeling of rest and recovery going to last?

      Email: Facts, figures and data

      According to the latest figures from tech research firm The Radicati Group, around 215.3 billion emails are sent and received every single day. The market research institute’s estimates anticipate a volume of 257.7 billion emails by 2020. Any email recipient knows from experience that a large number of unwanted spam messages can be immediately deleted on receipt. Nevertheless, a considerable and rising number of emails always need answering – and quickly.

      How quickly can you respond?

      Customers are always expecting faster responses from businesses. Think about your own expectations when emailing your insurance firm, for example, or sending a general email query. How long are you prepared to wait for a conditional answer? The infographic below shows how expected and tolerated response times have developed with the transition from classical mail to faxes, emails and now mobile communication.

    • Motivate employees and lighten their load with modern technology

      But let’s go back to your first day back at work. Read each of your emails individually, sort them into spam and non-spam piles, prioritize by importance, forward to various subject-specific specialists to start the correct workflow, archive the associated attachments and the emails themselves, and so on. And what were the legal retention periods, again? It’s clear to see that this is a time-intensive process which often ends up demanding overtime work. So what could help you to work through a full mailbox as quickly as possible?

      The key to success is to integrate your email channel into a modern DMS or ECM solution.

      To show you how this process might look when using suitable software, I’d like to offer the example of a fashion company:

      1.) The customer, Mr Moody, ordered a pair of NOVO Moda shoes. Unfortunately, they arrived in the wrong size. Mr M needs the shoes for a party tomorrow, however, so he’s more than a little grumpy about it. Without delay, he sends a complaint to NOVO Moda:

    • 2.) As soon as the email arrives at the business, the technology swings into action. The software extracts the email from the mailbox in .msg format.

      3.) It automatically reads the content of the email, including any attachments. Specific keywords are used to identify the fact that this particular email can only be a complaint.

    • 4.) All other content (the so-called “metadata”, defined in advance by the user firm) is then extracted. In this example, this might include the email address, first name, last name and order number. The customer data is then compared against the source database and the customer number, as well as the ordered item in the ordering system.

    • 5.) The .msg (email) file is then converted into the revision-safe PDF/A format and compressed for archiving.

      6.) The PDF/A file is assigned a digital signature in order to guarantee that the original document will be inalterable.

      7.) Within a few minutes, the customer receives an automatic personalized response informing them that the email and the complaint have been received by the business and are being processed.

    • 8.) The next step is to submit the case, including all associated data, to the target system. This includes assigning it to the appropriate administrator and marking it for revision-safe storage in the archive.

    • This type of technology makes it possible to successfully process a standard transaction such as a customer complaint within just a few hours. Internal process workflows run automatically, meaning that employees barely need to manually intervene at all.

      In the long run, technology of this sort will be essential for making email-based working processes faster and more flexible.

      Without suitable software, a transaction of this type can take multiple days or even a whole week to complete.

      As you can see, email processing can now be greatly simplified, simply by letting it run as a fully automatic background process.

      And how are you going to process your 587 emails – and the six more that have just come in? After all, while you’ve been reading this article, the day’s business has been going on without you…

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