Many of you will have heard the news already – AOL plans to layoff approximately 1,400 staff members in the next day or so, the process has already started in some locations… Grim news indeed.

But this could happen to any ISP, and in times like these it makes the importance of following the escalation and support process all that more important… Less bodies does not mean less work for people – in fact quite the opposite. The individuals that do end up making it past the latest round of layoffs and buyouts will now have a major increase in work load.

Here is what you can do to help the people that help you:

  1. Review your mailing metrics before opening a ticket (bounces, low opens/clicks, etc…) and read the error codes being returned in your mail logs – generally the error codes will tell you what your issues are – see sample errors codes from AOL and Comcast. High bounces, low opens, poor coding can all easily be fixed on your own.
  2. If your not able to resolve this alone and need help – Consider hiring an email delivery consultant to help you (I know several that are always looking for new clients). They have seen it all and can possibly identify and help resolve an issue you didn’t even know you had.
  3. Consultant not in the cards and your going to try it alone… Follow the escalation process detailed on the Postmaster pages for many ISPs, no postmaster page – then try sending an email to Postmaster@ISP. Word to the Wise has a great list to reference and bookmark. Be sure to include all the information you have when asking for help from an ISP – IPs, error codes, email samples (with headers), full contact information, trace routes, manual mail server connection tests. Confused yet? See #2
  4. Possibly the most important part of this is Be patient and Understanding – The postmaster/abuse desk receiving your email is already working on a dozen other items ranging from; internal network abuse mitigation to bot nets to helping resolve false positive issues to name just a few of the things they are doing on a daily basis.
  5. Give Respect, Get Respect – Give attitude, and you can wait at the bottom of the support queue. Don’t flood the support queues with dozens of messages, most support systems work on a first in first out process – they will get to you when it’s your turn.
  6. Monitor your mail logs… as abuse desks get busier their ability to reply may decline, but you may see the issue suddenly resolve without receiving a confirmation message or without an explanation of the cause of the issue (this is frequently experienced now with some ISPs).

These are a few simple things that you can consider when looking at issue, and asking for help resolving these problems. Sound daunting and confusing… See #2 – it might just be the best thing you do this year to get your program back on track, even if your not currently experiencing any delivery issues.