Email-to-case Best Practices: Case Assignment Rules, Queues & Auto-Replies

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Email-to-case is an out of the box Salesforce feature that allows your end customers to send an email to an alias, then have that email turned it to a support case. If you provide support to your customers, you might have something on your website that says “Need help? Just send us an email help@mycompanydomain.com”.

When you set up Email-to-case, you can take those emails and turn them automatically to Case records in Salesforce, send auto-replies, distribute them to your support team, and take other automated actions. These will save support teams a lot of energy creating Case records and managing them appropriately. Instead, you have the chance to free up the team’s time to focus on the Cases that really require intervention.

“Validity”

These are a few best practices that can help improve your use of Email-to-case and Case Assignment Rules.

1. Who Can Use Email-to-case?

Decide which external users (customers) should be allowed to send emails that generate Cases.

The bad news: You can’t actually blacklist email addresses from sending you an email. What you can do, however, is create a validation rule blocking the creation of any case that meets certain criteria:

The customers aren’t going to see that error message, but it can help later when troubleshooting, or for any future Admin trying to figure out what this validation rule is for!

2. Set up Queues with a Catch-all Queue

Imagine that a company has three Service Levels (Standard, Premier, Premier Plus). The “Standard” Service Level will serve as the catch-all for anything that is not Premier or Premier Plus.

If you don’t use a catch-all, then Cases could end up assigned to the default user instead. Your support team might not see them and won’t be able to resolve them in a timely manner.

3. Send Auto-replies with the Process Builder

…and don’t send auto-replies to emails with certain subject lines.

When a customer sends an email to your support alias, they are likely going to expect a reply. You might even be required to provide one, depending on how your SLAs are worded.

Salesforce has a section in the Support Settings where you can add an email template for all auto-replies to cases. I don’t recommend using this, because you cannot control who gets an auto-reply, and who does not.

You may think that everyone should get an auto-reply, but that’s not the case. Some people have vacation notices turned on, or they have auto-replies on their own email box, which can cause a case-looping problem. That’s a nightmare because you’ve got two email auto-replies just spamming each other back and forth!

I prefer to send an email reply out with the Process Builder, and only for emails that meet a certain criteria:

  • Subject does not contain Out of Office, OOO, out-of-office, vacation, PTO, paid time off, holiday
  • Web Email does not contain @mycompanydomain

Remember: it is an email address and anyone can send to it, so you don’t want to send an auto-reply for Out of Office emails, or perhaps employees at your company.

4. Add the Case Feed ID to the Case Email Templates

One of the coolest features of Email-to-case is that a customer can reply to your support email alias, and as long as the Case Thread ID is somewhere in the email, then that email will update the existing Case (rather than create a new case).

Now, you can’t force your customers to copy and paste the Case Thread ID into an email – but, if they reply to an email that already has that value in the text, then no one has to do anything!

I always recommend to update all of your Case Email Templates with the Case Thread ID in a white font (or black, if you don’t mind the customer seeing that value).

5. Sort Cases Based on Case, Contact, or Account Fields

Case sorting works on a set of rules you build and will sort in the order you provide. So, it helps to think of your most important cases first, and then sort in that order.

Case Assignment Rules are going to look at the Web Email of the person who has sent the email and match them to a Contact Record. If that person has a Contact record, you can then sort their Case based on any value on the Case, Account, or Contact. If that person does not have a Contact Record, all you can sort on is the information you received, the Subject, and their own email.

I have two rules for Premier Plus, and two rules for Premier, so that you can see this a little more clearly, but in practice, you can combine them with some OR logic.

For Rule #2, if any person sends an email with a Subject that contains “emergency” it will automatically be routed to the Premier Plus queue (even if that person is not a Premier Plus customer.)

Study your SLA’s carefully, and consider the types of emails you will receive before you begin building. As always, add that catch-all at the end with no criteria, just to make sure nothing slips through the cracks.

Bonus Tip: Familiarize Yourself with the Support Settings

In Tip #3 I briefly mentioned Support settings. This is a long page in your Setup Menu with a whole bunch of options, that can be toggled on and off. I’ll save the details of each feature for another post, but make sure to do your research on each of these before filling anything out or changing the default settings. Making a mistake here could have major repercussions that are customer-facing, so use caution, and as always, test in Sandbox first.

I hope this helps you implement or improve your Email-to-case! Do this right and your support team will be grateful, and hopefully, your support team will see an immediate reduction in “busy work” of distributing cases. They’ll be able to focus on the cases that need resolution and prioritize much more accurately, and hopefully a faster time-to-resolution and improved customer satisfaction!

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