Manage and automate your email with this two-in-one package

Does your company have a generic corporate email address such as sales@somecompany.com that handles customer email and web-based inquiries? Do you worry about misdirected email or that your customers may not be getting a timely response, resulting in unhappy customers or lost sales opportunities? Emailrobot, from GFI Fax & Voice, can help you manage your email and keep your customers happy.

Emailrobot is two products in one: an email management system and an email automation system. The software supports both Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP) and Exchange mail environments, so you can use it internally on an Exchange mail system or on the Internet using SMTP.

Emailrobot's email management component helps you manage your corporate email addresses. You can distribute corporate-addressed email (e.g., support@yourcompany.com) to several mail agents while sending a personalized automatic reply to the sender and assigning a tracking number for future correspondence. All email can be archived into an Open Database Connectivity (ODBC)-compliant database for future reference, and you can track the status of each piece of corporate-addressed email so that you don't have any unhappy customers waiting days for a reply.

The email automation component of Emailrobot lets you perform such tasks as sending a blanket email to all your customers by querying a database of customers or mail merging information into an email message. The product includes scripting wizards to help you create these email processes. If you're adventurous, you can use the Visual Basic Script (VBScript) option, which lets you program the package manually.

Emailrobot includes five different components: Emailrobot, Emailrobot Task Manager, Emailrobot Queue View, Emailrobot Connector and Mailbox Agent, and Emailrobot Communications Viewer. The Emailrobot component performs all the hard work--sending, receiving, routing, and archiving your email. Emailrobot Task Manager lets you create and configure tasks (job scripts) that Emailrobot performs. Emailrobot Queue View lets you view the outbound queue, while Emailrobot Connector and Mailbox Agent interacts transparently with Exchange Server. Finally, the Emailrobot Communications Viewer lets you view a log of all the mail processing Emailrobot does.

Installing and configuring Emailrobot is easy. I installed Emailrobot for Exchange on my home-built Micronics-based dual-Pentium II processor PC running Windows NT Server 4.0. The other version, Emailrobot for SMTP, is for those environments that use an SMTP and Post Office Protocol (POP) 3 server, such as Netscape's SuiteSpot. The installation is straightforward. You run the setup program and answer a few questions. You must give some information about your Exchange installation, so be sure you are familiar with your Exchange organization and site name.

After installation is complete, you can use the software to manage your email. Assuming you already set up a corporate email address in Exchange, you run Emailrobot and create a profile for each email address you want the software to manage. Within each profile, you define the database in which you want to archive the email and the agents (Exchange users) to whom you want to forward the mail. You can also configure a custom reply. Screen 1 shows a typical configuration session.

In my testing, I was more interested in the software's email management features than its email automation capabilities. I created a profile so that Emailrobot would automatically archive all email to sales@mycompany.com and forward it to my Exchange mailbox. I spent 5 minutes configuring the options I wanted and waited for the software to work. Nothing happened. After reviewing the software's documentation, I found that after you make any changes to mailboxes or other settings, you must stop and restart three different Emailrobot NT services. The documentation did not explain why this activity is necessary given today's age of dynamic software configuration.

Emailrobot is available in three pricing tiers: the Small Business Edition, which gives access to four mail agents and four profiles; the Corporate Edition, which gives access to seven mail agents and seven profiles; and the Enterprise Edition, with unlimited agents and profiles. A free trial copy of the software is available on GFI Fax & Voice's Web site.

Emailrobot
Contact: GFI Fax & Voice * 888-243-4329 or 0171-226-2866
Web: http://www.gficomms.com
Price: $495 (Small Business Edition); $749 (Corporate Edition); $1495 (Enterprise Edition)
System Requirements:
Emailrobot for Exchange: Windows NT Server, ODBC-compatible database, Internet Explorer (IE) 3.02 or higher, Microsoft Exchange Server 4.0 or higher
Emailrobot for Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP): Windows NT Server or Workstation or Windows 95, Open Database Connectivity (ODBC)-compatible database, IE 3.02 or higher, compatible SMTP and Post Office Protocol (POP) 3 server