Salesforce Email-to-Case: The Best Method to Eliminate Duplicates

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Salesforce Email-to-Case is an out-of-the-box feature that works by allowing your customers to send an email to your organization (using an alias), which is turned into a ticket (case record) that is managed using Service Cloud. From there, your organization can send auto-replies, distribute cases to your support team, and perform other automated actions.

Previously, however, natural customer behavior would cause havoc in Service Cloud. Adding a new person to the communication loop had the unintended consequence of creating a duplicate case. But that’s all in the past – now, Email-to-Case is far better at eliminating duplicates.

Why Is Email-to-Case Important?

Do you feel like your company’s resources are stretched thin, or like you need to improve workflows? If so, you aren’t alone. The past couple of years have ushered in a variety of challenges, including the ‘Great Resignation’, with roughly 47 million workers quitting their jobs in 2021 — the highest number on record. As a result, companies are tasked with doing more with less.

Technology provides a resource for improving productivity and workflows, and one tool that companies leverage is the Salesforce Email-to-Case feature. This feature promises to streamline customer service interactions, however, it comes with a significant challenge: the risk of duplicate cases.

Duplication introduces various problems, including customer frustration, due to a lack of personalized experiences, increased costs, and more.

Did you know that:

  • 5%-10% of cases, on average, are duplicates.
  • For one case, the cost per agent can range from $5 to $40.
  • 97% of all IT departments say duplicates exist in their system.

As users have been struggling to manage duplicate cases, Salesforce created a first update — and then a second — to solve this challenge. Moving forward, understanding the details about these updates and alternate options will help you recapture the time and money wasted on duplicate cases.

READ MORE: Email-to-Case Best Practices: Case Assignment Rules, Queues & Auto-Replies

Email-to-Case Service Cloud: The First Update

The Email-to-Case feature works by connecting your business email to your cloud service. Anytime a client or customer emails the account, a ticket (case) that you can manage is generated inside of Service Cloud.

However, let’s say that a customer replies to an email and CCs their manager. Adding a new person to the communication loop has an unintended consequence: the creation of a duplicate case when a “reply to all” email is sent.

In 2021, Salesforce launched its first update to fix the issue – the update included adding a case ID number to the subject line. As a result, anybody who responded to, or interacted with, the subject line would have the same case ID in an effort to eliminate duplicate cases. However, duplicate cases still slipped into the system.

If a person accidentally changed the subject line, deleted the subject line, or didn’t respond correctly in some other way, a duplicate case was created. This prompted the creation of a second update, which is due to be released summer of 2023.

READ MORE: Service Cloud Email-to-Case – Current Limitations and Solutions

How Is the Second Update Different?

Placing the case ID into the subject line wasn’t foolproof, so Salesforce began work on a second update, initially planned for 2022 but recently pushed to the summer of 2023.

With the new update, incoming emails are matched to cases using the message ID in the messages, the “reply to” field and reference headers – which they refer to as email header-based threading. This approach will replace the case ID number that was previously placed in the subject line.

The update will likely decrease duplication but still not entirely eliminate the problem. Anyone added to the original email from the client who then ‘replies all’ to that email, will still be creating duplicates as the first email doesn’t contain the header generated from Service Cloud. Fortunately, there is another option which automates the task of identifying duplication and will significantly reduce lost time and resources in the future.

An Alternative to Dedupe Case Tickets

Alternative solutions on the market allow you to automate the merging of duplicate cases created as a result of using Email-to-Case.

You can set a threshold for “certainty of duplication” and allow the technology to automatically merge any cases within that threshold. Artificial intelligence, for example, may be 95% confident that a case is a duplicate. If your confidence threshold is set at 95%, that merge is fully automated and a staff member will never have to touch the case. Cases that fall outside the threshold are forwarded to a staff member to determine manually.

As a result, time is recaptured and staff are free to focus on higher-value work. A few benefits of leveraging a deduplication solution include:

  • Improved productivity of call centers.
  • The ability to process tickets faster.
  • Saving 90%-100% of the time and cost previously spent managing duplicates.
  • Improved customer experience.

For the cases that are automated, you will have saved 100% of what previously would have been lost time, which is highly valuable. For example, if you have 1,000 duplicate cases monthly, there is a cost associated with each of those instances. Let’s say the cost is $20 per case. If you eliminate 1,000 duplicates each month, that quickly adds up to $20,000 in savings in a single month.

Final Thoughts

Staying ahead of the competition requires companies to maintain high-quality data, reduce duplication, and provide more meaningful and personalized customer experiences.

A solution fueled by automation and AI enables you to recapture valuable time, decrease costs, and improve workflows to secure the competitive advantage required to thrive in the future.

Delpha is a DataOps solution native to Salesforce. It offers both automatic and manual solutions to improve data quality, making for an easier, more efficient RevOps performance. Install it today from the AppExchange and enjoy a 15-day free trial.

7 thoughts on “Salesforce Email-to-Case: The Best Method to Eliminate Duplicates

  1. Annette Wheatley


    This is a great article – but I would love some examples of tools that could do the auto merge from the AppExchange?

    1. Hello Annette, with Delpha you can automate the merge. We use confidence thresholds as each potential duplicate will have a score from our AI model and you can set your automation based on these scores. We can do this for deduping not only cases inside the service cloud, but for all other standard objects in Sales cloud as well such as for Leads, Contacts and Accounts. I’d be happy to show you if interested!

  2. Alexandra Mendez


    This is a very important topic; lots of concerns in my company about duplicated cases.
    The proposed workaround of merging cases sounds good specially if set with very high % of certainty of duplication (>%99) to decrease the probability of merging cases that are not really duplicates and missing customer request.
    On the other hand, if 2 cases are merged, I guess there should be a way to notify the case owner so he/she is aware of this new email that create a 2nd case that was merged to the existing one. And also there should be a way to add a note somewhere on case to keep record of that merge, so when the case is assigned to an individual user, this user will be able to find this information easily to be aware.
    Do you agree?

  3. Hello Alexandra, any merges will be notified in the Case Feed section with the body of the email that promoted the duplicate creation. Therefore the original case owner will have access to this information and will be notified if they are following the original case. So yes, completely agree with you and we currently have that in our process.

  4. We are having issues with mistakes being done where the contact name are very similar and the agent is merging cases between different contacts. Is there a way to prevent programmatically the merge when the contact is different or any other rule?

  5. Is there a way to prevent programmatically the merge between cases when the contact is different or any other rule?

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