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How to handle multi customer service representative incoming support email

Hello Experts,

I always had this idea which confuse me and would like to share it with you in the hope of having more experience than mine, anyway, let's say you have a company like Amazon and this company have like 100 support representative (just an example) when they say, if you have any issue contact us at support at amazon com, now knowing that we have 100 support agents, first who is gonna check the email address itself? and how would they know that the agent 1 --(let's use numbers here) -- is responding to the customer inquiry where others shouldn't touch it? do the 100 agents got access to that email address or how it works, how it doesn't interfere with all other agents while checking the email..... I feel dizzy now...

Can you give me an idea?

Thanks
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thebest8
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thebest8
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3 Solutions
 
Dr. KlahnPrincipal Software EngineerCommented:
I've seen two methods used and no doubt there are others.

1.  Initial contact at a generic incoming address.  Any agent can pull the next email from the queue.  Once pulled, the email is presumably immediately removed from the queue so that only one agent can respond.  Reply sent to the customer includes a Reply To: email address that brings it back to the specific queue of the agent who originally processed it.

2. Initial contact at a generic incoming address.  Any agent can pull the next email from the queue.  Once pulled, the email is presumably immediately removed from the queue so that only one agent can respond.  Agent's reply is tagged with a unique code that must not be removed.  When customer replies, the email server scans the email for the unique code and routes it to the inbox of the agent who originally processed it.
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thebest8Author Commented:
Thanks Dr Klahn, that seems to me a logical way to do it specially number 2.

In case I want to implement that, how to do it? which solution to use?
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Ray PaseurCommented:
This is a complicated application to write yourself.  Recommend you consider a commercial solution like https://www.zendesk.com/ or something in open source like http://osticket.com/
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thebest8Author Commented:
Does osticket offer the following:

 Initial contact at a generic incoming address.  Any agent can pull the next email from the queue.  Once pulled, the email is presumably immediately removed from the queue so that only one agent can respond.  Agent's reply is tagged with a unique code that must not be removed.  When customer replies, the email server scans the email for the unique code and routes it to the inbox of the agent who originally processed it.


Your input is highly appreciated.
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Dr. KlahnPrincipal Software EngineerCommented:
I'd have to say that the first method offers less opportunity for the recipient to destroy the return routing information in their reply.

Each agent needs an email reader that has been customized as follows:

1.  Try to pull an email for the agent's specific email address
2.  If an email is there, wait till the agent has processed it and go back to 1
3.  Try to pull an email from the common address
4.  If an email is there, wait till the agent has processed it and go back to 1
5.  Wait some small amount of time and go back to 1

This prioritizes responding to previous questions over responding to new questions, which is probably how most companies want it.

I'm sure that something on this order is commercially available and it would not surprise me to find that there's a freeware version as well.
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thebest8Author Commented:
Thank you,  do you agree with Mr Ray regarding the suggested solutions he mentioned?
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Dr. KlahnPrincipal Software EngineerCommented:
I've not examined those solutions and I'm not familiar with them, so I can't offer an opinion there.
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Ray PaseurCommented:
Does osticket offer the following...
I honestly can't say.  It would be in the online docs or in the forum.  I'm suggesting this because it's one of the most popular customer service tracking systems, so it must be doing something (or rather many things) correctly, and because it's open source, anyone who has a good idea and wants to contribute to the project can add features.  It's the sort of arrangement that causes the best applications to get better.

Another potential consideration might be Salesforce.com.  They offer customer service automation (CRM) in a SAAS platform.
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