For the longest time we didn't filter junk mail at all for our incoming email. My concern was that some reader emails would get lost in the filters by mistake, and I had a zero tolerance policy for that.
But then my own inbox started routinely exceeding 4,000 messages a day, and that was nothing compared to our customer service department. Our other policy -- reply to all legitimate messages in under 24 hours -- was being broken because no one had the time to plow through the flood of junk.
So we did what everyone else does. We started using filters.
Now the system sorts incoming mail to three piles ... probably good stuff, probably junk and almost certainly junk. We all check and reply to pile No. 1 continually throughout the day. Pile No. 2 is read twice a day, and pile No. 3 is reviewed by a human every 48 hours.
The horrible truth is, no matter how many rules and instructions we give the filters to help them know what's junk and what's not, legitimate mail still ends up in the junk box.
I have a very real horror of deleting a junk pile without carefully scrolling through looking for those needles of gold in the haystack. In fact, one time when I was out, my then-new assistant blithely deleted my junk folder to "clean up" my inbox, and lost several crucial messages that caused us a massive headache later.
However, this means we still have to review that entire massive mountain of email.
That's why I've asked our IT specialist to look for a new email filter. Most of the filter marketing pieces triumphantly discuss how much junk they stop. "97% of junk gone!" I've told IT to completely ignore that type of marketing. What we want to know about Ė and, indeed, what every customer-facing organization MUST care about is *not* how much junk is filtered, but rather how much customer mail is saved.
Because I'd rather have a few more junk messages in my inbox than risk losing a single reader letter.
And I hope that's the way your company feels about its customers as well.
So here's a question to raise at the next management meeting: "How is our email filtered?" If you're using a filter to evaluate message content or a challenge response system, then you're almost certainly losing some important customer email.
The only safe type of filter that I know of (bearing in mind I'm a marketer, not a techie) is one based on blocking IP addresses of known junk mailers.
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