Email Management: Service email reply processing

With RightNow CX customers have the ability to update incidents by replying to email messages. The management of this process is sometimes tricky as customers include the original message in their reply, quoting the email they received from RightNow CX.

When the Techmail (*) detects an email reply, it attempts to identify the part of the message containing the customer’s reply, and strips out any text that may have been quoted back from the original message thread. In this way, new replies are added to the incident as a new entry in the incident thread, while text from previous thread entries is ignored.

Techmail uses several methods to determine which blocks of text in a message consist of previous thread entries:

  • Most email clients mark or “block quote” the original message when replying. In text messages, the original text is often block quoted by inserting a greater than symbol (>) or a vertical bar (|) at the beginning of each line of the original text. In HTML messages, the original message is usually enclosed in block quote HTML tags (<blockquote>). Parameters in the block quote HTML tag indicate how the message should be displayed (for example, each line begins with a vertical bar or an indent). The Techmail utility’s block-quoted reply detection method finds block-quoted text and removes it from the email, leaving only the reply from the customer.
  • If a customer replies to multiple points within the original email, inter mixing the reply with the original text, the message may contain multiple blocks of quoted text. In this case, the replies may refer to the original text above them, which may be important, so Techmail includes the entire email message in the incident.
  • If a customer replies within the original text, and the reply text begins with a block quote, such that the reply is indistinguishable from the original text, Techmail can determine that additional text has been added within the original text by comparing checksums in the reply to checksums in the original message. If the checksums differ, the entire email is added to the incident to ensure that no reply text is lost.
  • Techmail can also detect and remove “boilerplate” messaging while leaving the customer’s content intact. Boilerplate messaging is text that has been added to an email message by a mail client, such as a line of advertising text embedded by Hotmail. This helps to ensure that the thread is not diluted with advertising and contains only information pertinent to the discussion.

* Techmail: A scheduled utility that retrieves mail from specified POP3 mailboxes. RightNow Service processes some of the mail into new incidents and routes the incidents using business rules (depending on settings). RightNow Marketing and RightNow Feedback process bounced messages to assist in tracking incorrect email addresses.

One thought on “Email Management: Service email reply processing

  1. Hey,

    Any help on how techmail tracks the thread, as even if I changed the Incident Number in the subject (while replying service mail), it’s still updating the same incident.
    Does editing the email subject line makes any difference?

    Cheers, Gaurav

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