5 Challenges with Email and Correspondence for Customer Service

customer-service-email-managementCustomer service reps (CSRs) are on the front lines of your organization and are in the unique position of acquiring valuable information from your most valued customers, every day. In fact, they may be a customer’s first, and only, contact with your business. Much of this correspondence is taking place over email, which is not being shared with other departments.

If customer service correspondence with customers is well-documented and shared with sales, marketing, product management, and possibly even accounting, the company can gain a competitive advantage from this market information. However, these people don’t need to be copied on every email.

How can organizations manage customer service correspondence effectively? Fortunately, third-party email correspondence modules like Email Manager from CMA now offer a way to ensure all relevant customer service email and attachments are coupled with other records in your document management system.

Customer Service Records Retention

Below is a table that illustrates best practice retention requirements for customer service records:

 Records  Retention Requirement (years)
  • Claims (loss or damage)
  • Complaints
  • Contract progress reports
  • Contracts, customer
  • Contracts, representatives, agents, distributors
  • Correspondence
  • Discount rates
  • Guarantees, warranties
  • Invoices, copies
  • Invoices received
  • Mailing & prospect lists
  • Market research studies & analysis
  • Market surveys
  • Orders acknowledgment
  • Orders filled
  • Price lists
  • Shipping notices & reports
  • Tax-exempt sales

6 years after termination
6 years after termination
6 years after termination

We recommend having your CPA and your attorney review the records retention requirements in your state before putting it into practice.

So with all these records, what are the five challenges for customer service?

The Top 5 Challenges for Managing Customer Service Email Correspondence

  • 90% of all business correspondence is conducted via email – while the client might call, the CSR is likely recording the issue electronically and then emailing the resolution to their supervisor or another department within the organization.
  • All correspondence with customers should be considered a business record or document.
  • Correspondence isn’t associated with the documents they reference – this can be done by customer name, customer number or order number we need to provide the methodology for doing so.
  • Classification, filing, and archiving email with current technologies are unorganized.
  • Critical email correspondence isn’t integrated with existing back-end systems

Extend Outlook & Document Management with Email Correspondence Management

Email Manager from CMA addresses these issues by adding value to, and empowering your CSRs by providing a simple solution for documenting customer correspondence and archiving it alongside customer records for future reference.

Within the native Outlook client, an email can be tagged once based on the nature of the conversation and then tracked for archiving. Custom fields such as account number and reason for contact can be applied within the Outlook interface to classify and capture critical correspondence in addition to subject, to, from, date, etc. Even when a customer outside your network replies, the software maintains the integrity of the indexes.

Email Manager automatically stores messages to the designated repository in a single, secure location alongside other supporting documentation about the customer. Continuity and historical access are automated, improving your records as well as enhancing customer service.

15 Questions To Ask When Developing An Email Management Policy

sedona-conference-logoMany organizations continue to struggle with how to effectively manage the continuing tsunami of email, while ensuring compliance with company policies, industry regulations and state/federal laws.

By answering the following questions, first asked at the Sedona Conference, you’ll be able to evaluate where your organization stands with email management:

  1. What are the current policies, processes, work practices, or procedures applicable to the creation, distribution, retention, retrieval, and deletion of email and other electronic communications in your firm?
  2. What contextual information does the email system generate? Don’t forget to include the attachments to those emails.
  3. What types of personal or distributed electronic devices are commonly used for handling email?
  4. What types of content are transmitted or received by email or contained within the message bodies?
  5. What user management practices are encouraged or tolerated for individual email accounts?
  6. What access to personal email archives exist on desktop and laptop hard drives and how often they are used?
  7. What is the role of the user in determining how long email is retained?
  8. When and how are existing email policies and procedures communicated to users?
  9. Who (and how many different functions) within the organization is responsible for or has email policies in place?
  10. How does the organization define a “record” and to what extent (percentage) are emails, usually based on content, included within this definition?
  11. How are emails with business significance, as defined by records schedules, treated?
  12. What are the current audit practices and capabilities to assure system integrity?
  13. Are users required to ascertain and classify email and to what extent is this accomplished?
  14. How is email integration into records management systems accomplished?
  15. How are litigation holds applied to email?

The Easy Answer

We believe the right answer to all 15 questions is to utilize email management software like Email Manager from CMA to build a bridge between Outlook and your document management system. In this way, the management, access, version control, retention scheduling, and other benefits of document management offers over electronic documents can be extended to email.

What email management practices do you have in your firm to ensure the timely and efficient integration, tracking and archiving of email and the attachments?

10 Things You Need to Know About Email Management

AIIM Logo 3Email has become the predominant means of business communication. Why then are so few organizations managing it effectively?

The following are the key findings from a survey AIIM recently conducted:

  1. On average, respondents spend more than 1.5 hours per day processing email, with 20% spending 3+ hours per day.
  2. Over 50% have hand-held access with Smartphone’s and tablets. 67% process work-related emails out of office hours with 28% confessing to doing so “after work, on weekends and during vacations.” (This was in 2009, so we’re confident the percentages have increased.)
  3. “Sheer overload” is reported as the biggest problem with email as a business tool, followed closely by “finding and recovering past emails” and “keeping track of actions.” This calls for a good tagging, tracking and archive solution.
  4. Email archiving, legal discovery, findability and storage volumes are the biggest concerns within organizations, with security and spam now considered less of a concern by respondents.
  5. Over 50% of respondents are “not confident” or only “slightly confident” that emails related to documenting commitments and obligations made by staff are recorded, complete and retrievable.
  6. Only 10% of organizations have completed an enterprise-wide email management initiative, with 20% currently rolling out a project. Even in larger organizations, 17% have no plans to, although the remaining 29% are planning to start sometime in the next two years.
  7.  45% of organizations (including the largest ones) do not have a policy on Outlook “Archive settings” so most users will likely create .pst archive files on local drives.
  8. Only 19% of those surveyed capture important emails to a dedicated email management system or to a general purpose ECM system. 18% print emails and file as paper, and a worrying 45% file in non-shared personal Outlook folders.
  9. A third of organizations have no policy to deal with legal discovery, 40% would likely have to search back-up tapes, and 23% feel they would have gaps from deleted emails. Only 16% have retention policies that would justify deleted emails.
  10. Overall, respondents plan to spend more on Email Management software in 2009 than 2008.

What are you doing to integrate, track and archive email and attachments in your firm?

The Top 5 Challenges of Satisfying HR Email & Correspondence Retention Requirements

Retention requirements for employee records can be onerous. From recruiting, interviewing, on-boarding, payroll, benefits administration, and employee reviews, Human Resource professionals must retain all correspondence and documentation, whether in paper or electronic form. Because most HR departments are not currently systematically capturing email correspondence, they are at risk of being out of compliance with industry regulations, and possibly federal and state laws. This could lead to bad audits, fines and liability from lawsuits.

Fortunately, third-party email correspondence modules like Email Manager from CMA now offer a way to ensure all relevant email and attachments are coupled with other records in your document management system.

HR Records Retention Requirements

Below is a table that illustrates typical legal retention requirements for HR records:


  • Accident reports, injury claims, settlements
  • Applications, changes, termination
  • Attendance records, clock records
  • Correspondence
  • Daily time reports
  • Disability & sick benefits records
  • Earnings records
  • Employee contracts
  • Employee service records
  • Fidelity bonds
  • File, individual employee
  • Garnishments
  • Health & safety bulletins
  • Injury frequency charts
  • Insurance records: group, employee
  • Medical folders, employee (after termination)
  • Paychecks
  • Payroll records
  • Pension plan, applications, claims, correspondence
  • Rating cards
  • Salary & rate changes
  • Salespeople auto records
  • Salespeople expense accounts
  • Salespeople performance records
  • Time cards, tickets, receipts
  • Training manual
  • Union (collective bargaining) agreements (after termination)
  • Withholding, exemption certificate
  • Workers’ compensation reports

Retention Requirement (years)


We recommend having your CPA and attorney review the records retention requirements of your state before putting it into practice.

All of this makes the documentation process critical for everything HR does, both for legal purposes and to ensure the smooth function of the department. Management of all of this documentation, much of which is via email and attachments, can be very time challenging.

The Top 5 Challenges for Managing HR Email Correspondence

  1. 90% of all business correspondence is conducted via email, much of which includes attachments
  2. Virtually all correspondence with prospective and current employees is critical and should be considered a business record or document
  3. Correspondence typically is not associated with the documents they reference yet they can be with appropriate tagging (i.e., employee’s name or employee number)
  4. Classification, filing and archiving email with current technologies is unorganized and difficult to implement
  5. Critical email correspondence isn’t integrated with existing back-end systems

Extend Document Management with Email Correspondence Management

Email Manager from CMA allows HR users to incorporate all email and attachments into their document management system to satisfy all records retention requirements and to provide a more complete employee records—all in one easy step called “tagging.”

Using the Microsoft Outlook Plug-In of Email Manager, you can tag every email with employee number, name, and/or document type and let the email management software do the rest. Email Manager will then automatically tag all emails previously sent in the thread and all those emails that will be sent over the life of the thread. In doing so, Email Manager automatically stores each email, subsequent replies and attached documents to the document management system where they are stored in a secure, single location.

What are you doing to ensure your HR email, correspondence and documents are being properly tracked and archived?

5 Reasons Your Firm Needs Email Management

For your business to run effectively and efficiently, you need a record of both internal and external communications in whatever the form: paper, fax, email, electronic forms, etc.

In small and medium-sized enterprises, most employees devise their own filing systems for documents and email, which are often inconsistent, incomplete and with information that is not available to others who may need access. These organizations need a document management solution.

Companies that utilize document management have a centrally managed repository for important company documents that can be accessed remotely, which facilitates collaboration and workflow. However, the use and effectiveness of document management is largely based on having a complete documentation record, which needs to include email but rarely does—until now with the advent of email correspondence management.

Five Reasons Your Firm Needs Email Management
The points below illustrate why you need to consider utilizing email correspondence management:

  1. 83% of all communications are electronic. With more than 55% of business professionals and 85% of Millennials having smart phones, electronic communications will continue to grow. Whether you want to or not, you must be able to engage a customer or prospect via the communications channel they prefer.
  2. 90% of electronic communications are via email, and frequently with attachments. Email is the preferred method for business correspondence because the sender and the recipient have an accessible record of what was agreed upon, assuming you have a storage methodology that enables you to find sent and received emails easily.
  3. 37% of business professionals retain messages according to their content. Not all email is business critical and end-users are most knowledgeable about what needs to be retained (e.g., a client requested change that will affect the budget) and what doesn’t (e.g., the announcement of this year’s holiday party).
  4. 31% of users are keeping email indefinitely, and 26% retaining it less than 120 days. Neither of these are a good practice, let alone a “best practice.” Keeping emails indefinitely leads to unnecessary and increasingly large expenditures on storage. Likewise, deleting all emails after a certain period of time (i.e., 120 days) will:
    1. Encourage employees to store business critical email on their hard drives before it is deleted
    2. Result in the deletion of business-critical emails that should have been archived; and/or
    3. Cause the firm to fail to meet legal retention requirements in the advent of a lawsuit.
  5. 67% of companies use maximum mailbox sizes as a method for creating de facto retention limits. Similar to deleting emails after a certain time period, setting de facto retention limits on mailbox sizes opens the company up to the same risks of legal consequences, financial consequences, loss or organizational memory, loss of accountability and failure to provide useful service to customers.

The first step is to have your legal, IT and/or records management departments determine an effective email management protocol for your firm based on industry standards and requirements and your individual business needs. Then you’ll need a tool like Email Manager to incorporate these emails into your document management system.

Two Questions

  1. What actions are you and your firm taking to ensure that you have a sound email management policy in place?
  2. What is your plan to ensure that all relevant email is being effectively captured, managed and stored with other important records?

If “none” and/or “I don’t know” are your answers, contact us for a free consultation on Email Manager.