What are Shared Inboxes?

Description: Find out what a shared inbox is, how it works and how your team can benefit by using it. Get tips to manage your shared inbox better.

Introduction

Emails are an integral part of businesses as they streamline communication, which helps in the functioning of an organization. General email addresses like [email protected] or [email protected] enable customers to contact the company easily. However, when many people manage one email inbox, it can get challenging to keep everything in control. That is why we need software to manage a team inbox.

Let’s find out more about shared inboxes, how to manage them, and why they are needed.

What Is a Shared Inbox?

A shared inbox is an inbox that several users can have access to. These usually have a generic email alias like [email protected] or [email protected] These inboxes don’t belong to one person; the whole team manages them.

For instance, the entire sales team manages [email protected], and anyone can answer an inquiry sent to them.

Shared inboxes are most useful for customer support teams where anyone from the team can answer customers’ concerns and provide timely support.

Best practices to manage shared inboxes

It is easy to manage an email inbox with a small customer support team. However, with time, the team grows, and it can get quite overwhelming. Therefore, there is the need to follow certain shared mailbox practices. It would be best if you considered implementing them to manage your shared mailbox better,

1. Build accountability

There are several ways of bringing in accountability. For instance, as a team lead, you can ask teammates to work at different time zones so that there is a reduced chance of collision. There is also an option to assign certain emails to the folder of each team member separately.

You have to coordinate the whole work process so that the customers’ queries get answered on time. Also, every new process would require training from your end regardless of the experience of your team members.

2. Document processes and responses

If you want your customer support team members to help customers efficiently, you need to record templates and guides for them to use. Using these resources, they would get help in solving some of the most tricky yet common issues. Having documented resources will help other team members when they face similar situations.

Recording processes for the team in shared spaces can be helpful to a great extent, especially when there are new members in the team.

3. Create folders and labels

You can use folders as the key tools in organizing your shared mailbox. They help in sorting out the incoming emails. For example, you can create a separate folder for every common topic and keep one for various other problems. If a team member is an expert at handling technical matters, you can assign the related email folder to that person. Similarly, you can find the expertise of each team member and assign the corresponding folder to them.

4. Restrict access and ensure security

In a shared mailbox, there are multiple users managing customer information. You have to make your inbox more secure, as you must keep the data safe. You have to change passwords regularly and make sure that team members don’t use the shared mailbox for personal email communication. In addition to that, you shouldn’t use unreliable Wi-Fi networks so that the customer’s information stays protected. Another point to remember is that you should change passwords once an employee leaves your organization so that they cannot log in to your email inbox and access your business information.

5. Track metrics

Customer support metrics such as the common issues customers face regularly and the number of emails the support team deals with daily can help you make strategic decisions for your business. If your support team receives the same complaint repeatedly from customers, it is better to work on that aspect of your product or service.

Why Do You Need Shared Inbox Software?

It is worth reiterating that it is easy to manage all the tasks when you have a small team. However, as and when the business grows, and new departments emerge, your team members have an increased chance of not answering emails on time.

Customer support teams have a tough time handling inbox confusion. There are chances of emails being left unanswered in an inbox, emails getting misplaced, multiple members responding to the same email or sending emails to the wrong recipient. The main reason for these problems is that several users handle the inbox and don’t have proper synchronization.

The other problems are the following:

  • There are no roles or responsibilities set, so the team doesn’t know who handles which email.
  • Teammates lack ownership as they feel that someone else from the team will take care of responding to emails.
  • No data about each team member and how they have been performing.

To address these problems and to implement the best practices for shared inboxes mentioned above in a better way, you have shared inbox software that enables teams to work together and makes all the information available in one place.

How a Shared Inbox Software Helps Your Customer Service Team?

You can use shared inbox software to improve the flow of your customer service process.

It will help you in the following ways,

  • Enables managing inboxes from one location to avoid missing an email from the customer.
  • Prevents unanswered emails from piling up in the inbox as it is possible to assign them to teammates.
  • Decrease the average response times that make the customer feel satisfied.
  • Improves team communication and reduces the chances of an email falling through the cracks.
  • Enables restricting accessibility. You can decide which team member should have how much access.

Overall, it would help the functioning of the customer service team.

Shared Mailbox Vs Distribution Group

While you already know that a shared mailbox is an email inbox that several users have access to and can manage collaboratively.

Receiving emails on Slack is quite helpful as teams will get notifications in their Slack channels to carry on with discussions straightaway in the threads. One example of this is E-commerce platforms notifying about new orders placed or the status of the existing stocks directly in Slack.

On the other hand, a distribution group has the email addresses of two or more people, and when an email reaches it, it gets to all the group members. It enables you to send an email to several people in one go. But the drawback is that all the distribution group members will get all the emails even when they have no connection to those emails. Getting an email not meant for you can be annoying. Also, distribution groups for customer support have several other loopholes like duplicate replies, confusion and slower replies to customers when a team member is on vacation. It would get too chaotic with lots of CCing and forwards.

A shared inbox is way better as it addresses all the problems faced by users of distribution groups.

How Does a Shared Inbox Software Work?

As mentioned above, multiple team members manage a shared inbox and don’t have a user ID and password. There is the need to get the permission of the admin to get access to it. Upon gaining access, you can start managing the inbox along with other team members.

The access permissions vary from one shared inbox software to another. The common ones are the following:

Full access: It allows you to log in and exercise complete authority over the inbox.

Send as:It lets you show that you own the inbox and send emails from it.

Send on behalf:It allows you to send an email on behalf of the shared inbox.

What Features should Shared Inbox Software have?

Now that you know that you need a shared inbox software to get the workflow of teams streamlined, you should know about the features an ideal tool would have,

1. It should manage group emails well

The basis of a shared inbox tool is its ability to manage group email addresses like [email protected] or [email protected] There are several departments in a company, and they would have a shared inbox for each one. Your shared mailbox tool must enable you to access the inboxes in one central location without the need to log in elsewhere. This way, it will help you answer emails faster and prevent emails from getting missed out. With the software, it should be possible to assign emails to one particular team member to have an idea of what they should focus on. It will prevent the abandonment of emails and duplicate responses.

2. It should detect collision

Two people of the same team can reply to the same customer two times. It is even worse if they give contradictory replies. You have to save your business from such embarrassment, and, therefore, it is better to use a shared inbox tool that assigns incoming emails to team members and avoids collisions. The software should be such that it assigns support tickets using an automated routing system or manually by an agent.

3. It must automate email responses

Most shared mailbox tools let you use canned responses. Ensure that your tool has this feature. Canned responses are beneficial for giving faster replies to customers and thereby keeping them happy. It would also help in maintaining consistency and accuracy of the team’s replies.

4. It should facilitate team discussions.

It is time-saving to add internal notes to every email, and it enables you to provide personalized responses to customers. The team can take a look at all the information they require to handle each email. Internal team discussion will make the process easier as you don’t have to move back and forth in emails.

5. It should offer an analytics feature

Analytics is a feature that most shared mailbox tools don’t provide, but it would be fantastic if you can get your hands on a tool that offers it. It will help you gauge the performances of each team member and find out where there is a need for improvement.

The Best Shared Inbox Tools

1. SharedInbox

Support

SharedInbox is a tool that helps you manage customer support and facilitate communication from within Slack. It lets teams collaborate easily. With SharedInbox, you can connect any email client you are using at present. Additionally, you can also set up your @in.sharedinbox.co email, which will come in handy. The tool lets you add multiple team inboxes to your workspace in Slack.

With the tool, it is possible to convert emails into tickets that are helpful to customer support teams. There is also an auto-reply feature that lets you send an automated custom reply to incoming emails. The biggest plus is that you don’t have to install the software; you can use it from within your Slack app.

2. OutPost

Outpost is a shared inbox tool that small teams can use easily regardless of which email client they use. It allows internal communication, thereby reducing the number of emails to and fro. It also has collision alerts to see which teammate is working on an email to avoid a possible overlap.

3. Helpmonks

With Helpmonks, you can host on a server of your own and enjoy features like

  • internal notes
  • email assignment
  • auto-tagging
  • automated responses

It can work as a fully-loaded CRM as well because it stores data. It has a basic plan that doesn’t have any limit, making this a pocket-friendly tool. You can benefit from it no matter what your organization’s size is.

4. Kayako

This shared inbox tool supports two email clients, namely Gmail and Office 365. It has many features to offer, and it helps in bringing the interactions with customers on email, social media and live chat to one place. This makes it easy for you to organize all the conversations.

5. Front

This tool is a widely-used shared inbox software that helps manage accounts in a single location. It is a single platform that lets you manage emails, texts, and interactions on social media channels like Twitter, Facebook, and live chat. It helps in increasing customer satisfaction to a great extent. Using this tool, you can have better team collaboration and at the same time prevent collisions. What’s more, is that it lets you connect with 50+ other apps.

Conclusion

Shared inboxes are easier to manage when you use software. Right from managing team inboxes to detecting collisions and facilitating internal team discussions, shared mailbox tools can help you organize work processes. It would help if you invest in a reliable tool to reap maximum benefits. Using software to manage shared email inboxes works well for customer support. You must have seen that most of the tools allow you to bring emails, text messages, social media interactions and live chat conversations in one place.