Formal salutation in messages to customers


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Expected behavior:

Unlike in the US, in Europe, in the German speaking part in particular, business communication is usually very formal. You can’t just go addressing people with their first name. Also, if they have a title, such as “Dr.”, they expect it to be used in the salutation.

Is Zammad ready for any of that? Language issues aside, can I automate Zammad so that a ticket answer always shows the formal salutation in the first line, e.g. “Dear Mr. Doe” instead of just “Hi John”?

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Yes that’s perfectly possible with a text module.
At Zammad we use two modules for that, depending on the gender of the person we’re writing to:

Dear Ms. #{customer.lastname}
Dear Mr. #{customer.lastname}

You can reduce that step with an additional field that provides the title as well, however, this forces you to update the title if it’s missing. Otherwise something like this will come out: Dear - lastname.

Thanks for your reply. I’m noticing now that through my own translation into English, I oversimplified the issue so that your reply is indeed answering the question I asked but not the question I had in mind.

In German, as in most European languages, adjectives are gender-specific. So, while you can use “Dear” for all genders in English, in German, for example, you would use “Lieber” to address a man and “Liebe” to address a woman. On top of that, while in English you can use “Dear” to address someone both formally and informally, in German, there is a clear distinction between the two and a different kind of salutation is used in each case. It gets even more complex than that because the formal style is not limited to the salutation but to every single sentence where the person gets addressed. So, if we take a simple sentence such as “We received your message.”, the word “your” is different depending on the level of formality.

That’s the reason why in our market it’s very usual that customers at the very least declare their gender when signing up (by selecting one of Mr/Ms from a combobox). This will typically allow us to create a proper salutation through a condition (if prefix = Mr, salutation = Lieber [Firstname], else salutation = Liebe [FirstName]).

In our specific case, we don’t have thousands of customers, we are fine to address them all in a formal way and not mix styles, and we know all of them personally so we can just create a new combo field called “salutation” and select the correct one ourselves for each customer.

But for many other businesses in Europe, this would probably be a severe limitation. Do you see a way to work around this at all? For example, the possibility to have conditional text modules (for example in the simple form [condition|result if true|result if false]) would solve this any many other similar issues. I may add a feature request to that regard if you can’t confirm that there is another way to achieve this.

I think over time, more and more businesses will shift to a more neutral approach, because of two things: First, non-binary people, and also people with names that aren’t common in Germany. (I’ve had to look up foreign first names more than I should have been—and then there are edge cases, and so on…)

Sure, for most people it’s not a big issue if you address them wrong, but why shouldn’t you just use a neutral salutation? :nerd_face:

To be honest, I haven’t come up with a good approach myself—but I’d happily discuss your ideas.

I agree that there are many fields of business where this indeed is possible. In recent years I noticed that online stores and services will simply address you in an informal way with your first name. Since “Dear” still won’t work, they will address you with “Hi” or “Hello” which is truly gender independent even in German. I’m not sure I’m a fan of that, though.

And usually they won’t do this consistently anyway. As soon as it’s not the newsletter or another impersonal message anymore but a real person getting in touch, we’re back to the formal, more polite way of addressing each other.

And once we reach the point of one-to-one communication, you wish to be able to address that person correctly. Furthermore, why risk typos when the information is stored in your database?

That’s why, in my opinion, a person should be able to choose themselves how they wish to be addressed.

You mentioned non-binary people. The website recommends not to differentiate genders but to differentiate salutations. They recommend a selection as follows:

Say Max Muster is registering. If he chooses the Anrede “Herr”, our full salutation will be “Sehr geehrter Herr Muster”. If he chooses the Anrede “Neutral”, our full salutation will be “Sehr geehrt* Max Muster”, or “Sehr geehrte_r Max Muster”, both examples seem to be accepted as neutral. I’d be perfectly happy with such a solution. But that would require the ability to use the field “Anrede” in a condition.

One could argue, why not choose the neutral salutation for everyone, thereby getting rid of the issue in the first place? It’s a valid argument and things would be simpler. But I know that many if not most people will still prefer the personal touch of a salutation that takes into account their name, gender (or Anrede), and potentially even their title if they have one (such as Dr.).

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Zammads variables don’t provide any “if-else” logics I’m afraid.
The only way you can workaround is by either using several text modules or, if that’s not good enough, a select dropdown field in user context.

The neutral non binary greeting can be the default value - you’ll however have to ensure to set this for existing users. This is the only way / workaround you can use right now.


If this is not good enough, I’d suggest a feature request on this community, if there’s none yet.

I added a feature request for this:


Thanks! :slight_smile:
Fingers crossed it finds enough votes on the first article. :crossed_fingers:

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