Bring The Noise! Our growing, multi-national client lists throws out new challenges each day for our technology team, which is constantly coming up with new, bigger, better, faster solutions to deal with enormous quantities of data coming in and sending email invitations out. Last year our bigger clients were getting up to the tens of thousands of emails a day, and while our infrastructure was not exactly creaking, it seemed a good time to go to the next level. And then came a request from a new client that wanted to get into the "Million Emails a Month" club.
So to tackle this challenge, our newest programming asset Anthony was tasked with creating a sub-system to send vast quantities of email, something that scaled beyond our existing system and could take us into new high volume areas. Anthony, who has a background in cutting edge 3D-graphics (something called "augmented reality") wasted no time on coming up with a name for the project: The CustomerGauge Mail Monster - specified as a system so monstrous it could get through any volume of email we could throw at it. It was enough to strike fear into the other members of the team...[caption id="attachment_1789" align="alignnone" width="400" caption="How the Mail System in CustomerGauge works. "][/caption]
For any geeks still with us, our email system is quite complicated. Getting a consistent Net Promoter® Score survey result needs rigour in contacting customers. Most CustomerGauge clients survey transactions continuously, so we ensure that end-customers receive a survey invitation after every customer service contact or e-commerce transaction. Our system automatically sends emails every day. There are various rules applicable for each client - for example, 1) De-duplicate similar order numbers (in case feed was sent twice), 2) Send email invitation exactly 7 days after transaction, but not if we have contacted customer in the last 45 days (never good to over-contact them). 3) Then send a reminder email after another 7 days if customer has not answered.
Creating the HTML invitation email itself is no simpler - we have 20+ languages for some clients (with western and asian characters), and conditional-merge items (like product images, signatures and order information) to increase completion rates. Delivering emails successfully means avoiding spam filters, so we also remove bad addresses, and carefully "throttle" email sending to same domains.
This has resulted in great success for us and our clients. Survey completion for CustomerGauge clients is among the highest in the industry - we regularly top 25% for B2C and approach 50% average for B2B.
What's that coming over the hill?
Back in the lab Anthony's Monster had started to take shape. Building on our existing highly advanced Amazon EC2 structure, he generated special server instances that could scale up as needed. He demonstrated it to an eager technology team. With an impressive combination of programming techniques Anthony had built a system that in his words "...is always looking for food [in the form of data to turn into email], and when it finds some, grows a super-monster to manage the problem, which then clones smaller, zombie-like monsters that work on the queues, turning raw data into finished emails. When there is no more email to process, the mini-monsters simply die, and the super-monster goes back to sleep, ready to awake again...".
"So a bit like Godzilla in Destroy All Monsters?" suggested Camilla, who surprised us more with her knowledge of daikaijū movies than of the sophisticated system we had just seen. Roy asked: Why? "Well, at the end of the film, Godzilla turns out to be one of the good guys, and kills the evil Fire Dragon, and lives to protect Earth once again". "Yes" Said Anthony. "Exactly like our new Mail Monster".
Fight The Power
The Mail Monster has already chomped it's way through thousands of test emails before being unleashed on the real thing - and has been successfully running for several weeks. It's now officially out of beta and will be a part of new CustomerGauge installations from this week.
If your organisation has many customers to survey, we humbly invite you to compare your existing emailing animal with the awesome experience of our email-eating Mail Monster. Grrrrrrr.