Log Email using your mail application (such as Outlook)
Gary Sherman
October 11, 2010

A while ago I posted about using email with Dovetail/Clarify. One of the items I talked about is the Enhanced Email Out functionality within Dovetail Agent, which is a client-side integration with your MS Outlook client. This allows users to access their address books, attach files to the outgoing email, use your signature, read/delivery receipts, etc.

 

The way this is accomplished in via Collaborative Data Objects (CDO), a Microsoft library that exposes the interfaces of the Messaging Application Programming Interface (MAPI).  There area few downsides of using CDO, including the need to install CDO on each desktop, Outlook warnings/restrictions, and troubles with Office 2010. It’s not really a surprise – having a web application be able to access your Outlook application has the potential for security trouble.

Use your mail client

 

An alternative to this is to simply pop open a new email message in your client-side mail application (such as Outlook), with some data pre-filled in. So how does that email get into the case in the CRM system? By also sending the email to an application that knows how to log emails to the CRM system, such as Dovetail Carrier or emailclerk.

 

Lets see what this looks like with just a little customization (which we’ll cover in detail in a bit).

 

From the case page, choose the Log Email action:

 

log_email

 

And this will open a new email message using your default email application (such as Outlook, in my case)

 

email

 

Lets take a closer look at that email:

 

email2

 

Notice a few things:

 

  • The To address is pre-filled with the email address of the contact for the case
  • The CC address is filled in with the CC list and CC list 2 fields from the case
  • The BCC field is set to an address for email agent. More on this soon.
  • The Subject is filled with the case title, and “About Case “ and the case ID number
  • Whatever signature’s you use in your mail app are retained.

 

And because you’re now operating in your email application, you can do all of the normal email operations and functions that you expect, including:

 

  • Include other recipients using your personal address book, or the Global Address Lists
  • add attachments
  • background images
  • delivery and read receipts
  • use rich text or HTML formatting
  • use alternate signatures
  • etc.

BCC to Email Agent

 

By BCC-ing the email to the email agent address, this will allow the email processing application (Dovetail Carrier, emailclerk, etc.) to pick it up, and log it to the case. It knows which case to log it to because of the case id number that is in the subject of the email.

 

We then see the email in the case:

 

case

How to

 

Add a new variable in the application config file:

 

var emailagentEmailAddress = ‘Email Agent <emailagent@localhost.com>';

 

and then on the case page, add a new hyperlink:

 

<a href=”mailto:<%=html(boContact(‘e_mail’))%>?Subject=RE: <%=html(boCase(‘title’))%> :: about case <%=strIdNumber%>&CC=<%=boCase(‘cclist1′)%>;<%=boCase(‘cclist2′)%>&BCC=<%=emailagentEmailAddress%>”>Email</a>

 

That’s it.

Upsides

  • CDO doesn’t have to be installed
  • No Outlook security configurations
  • No special browser security settings

 

Potential Downsides

 

An email processing application needs to be part of your system (although most implementations already have this)

 

One other minor downside is that the activity log will show an Email In activity as opposed to an Email Out activity. Might be an issue for some. Others may not care. Who cares if it’s an email in or an email out? It’s an email.

 

act_log

 

 

Summary

 

Not every organization has the same needs, or wants an application to work the same way. This is just another example of alternative ways that Dovetail applications can be easily customized to meet particular business needs.

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