Many people hate automated emails.  I especially hate emails that look like this:


Your order (#12345) has been shipped.  Thank you for your business.  This is an automated email.  Do not reply (because we hate talking to people, and besides we will sacrifice your children if you do!).

Thank you,
Some Company Inc.

We've all gotten these emails.  What I don't understand is why.  It's just bad marketing.  You can argue that some people are used to this — but it's just plain anti-social.  Large companies especially can invest the time and money to create a Procmail script that parses out the order number in the email upon replies, and then forwards it to the proper department for evaluation. 

The emails should also look personalized — as though a human sent them.  A good database contains everything a programmer needs to do this.  Obviously, emails that are "do-not-reply" do not fit this criterion.

Furthermore, I propose that these emails not be sent immediately.  Sending them immediately is a red-flag for an automated email, and many users have their email clients open at all times.  They will wonder "How could someone send an email 3 seconds after I hit submit?"  Responding more slowly is better — to a point.  Sending emails with a one hour delay will prevent this perception.  Again, a programmer can quickly implement this with a queue of emails that get sent at designated times using a cron job.

Some emails are meant to be automated, and for those I won't recommend these sorts of personalization strategies.  But regardless, I think the "do-not-reply" policy is problematic.  Most people like talking to people.  Granted, I actually prefer computers, but I'm a nerd, and I'm atypical.  Just my 2c.

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