Email Collaboration: Why Remote Teams Need It Now More Than Ever
Increasing customer retention comes down to providing a great customer experience. And great customer experience means having the right people in the right seats.
As more of the workforce demands flexible remote-work options, we have to adapt and ensure customers still get the same level of service from our homes that they would from the office.
To do that, we need a way to easily communicate about our customers and with our customers—in one place.
That’s not Slack. That’s email.
What we need is a collaboration platform built around email.
What is Collaborative Email?
Collaborative email is a type of email inbox software that multiple people can access and use and collaborate on email and tasks. It is most useful for teams that need to work on email together as a group, such as a customer support teams or executives who delegate their email to an executive assistant.
Cost-conscious companies often create a shared mailbox in their Google Workspace, Gmail, or Microsoft Office accounts to make it easier for customers to reach them (e.g., email@example.com) and share login information with everyone on a team that needs it.
Makes sense. Right?
The problem is that email was originally designed to be used by individuals. Sharing credentials to work collaboratively with people to triage and field incoming messages goes against the fundamental behavior of email.
When you try to use email this way, you end up wasting more time due to the inability to know who’s working on what—creating confusion at best and angry customers at worst.
Collaborative email software solves most of these problems by giving them a way to all work with multiple communication channels from a single place while simultaneously maintaining accountability with task management functionality for assigning responsibility, delegation, communication, rules, and other productivity enhancements.
And when more detail and planning is required for effective teamwork, most integrate with modern project management tools like Asana, Trello, and ClickUp.
How Remote Teams Use Email Collaboration Tools
Email collaboration improves communication and understanding between team members. It helps identify potential problems early on, and avoid miscommunication and duplication of effort.
Team collaboration was already hard enough prior to the pandemic, but with more companies choosing remote-first or a hybrid model, the utility and necessity of being able to coordinate and communicate asynchronously is only going to keep growing.
Teams that Benefit the Most from Email Collaboration
The magnitude of benefits you can get from a collaborative inbox has a lot to do with the size of your team, the number, and type of information you have to manage.
Common adopters of shared inbox apps are teams involved in:
- Customer Support
- Customer Success
Both outbound and inbound sales teams can use team inboxes to keep up with prospects and in-progress opportunities they’re trying to close.
Inbound teams can assign inbound sales requests to a central inbox (e.g. firstname.lastname@example.org) using rules like round-robin and others to reduce the time an interested buyer has to wait for a follow up from sales (especially since the longer they have to wait, the more likely they are to contact a competitor).
A lot of companies (both large and small businesses) don’t realize how much revenue they inadvertently lose during the sales process due to poor communication and due diligence.
For example, an inbound lead is ready to sign up for your platform but your organization decided it was a good idea to force prospects ready to give you money to sit through a demo and qualification process despite your product having an ACV (average customer value) of less than $2000.
After doing so, your prospect is ready to move forward and become a customer but their sales development rep or junior account executive goes on vacation without setting up any sort of handoff or OOO autoresponder, leaving a potential customer in limbo.
In Missive, you can set your schedule to Out of Office yourself or set it for a coworker’s email account if they forget. You can also create automation rules to send incoming emails to the entire team or send a webhook to store them in your CRM so an active opportunity doesn’t go cold.
For outbound, an outbound sales-development rep gets lucky after a thousand emails and finally gets a positive reply from a prospect who wants to learn more about a product or service your company has pitched. The SDR can loop in an account executive on the conversation to give them context prior to a sales call.
They can also create and leverage collaboration email templates that work well for one rep so the rest can use them too.
Customer success teams can proactively work with sales teams during the handoff phase to give new customers a world-class onboarding experience by keeping everyone on the same page about customer expectations, special needs, and those small critical details that make it feel like you’re rolling out the red carpet. Something not always made easy by popular help desk tools.
Customer success teams can also coordinate easily with other teams throughout the organization to understand issues the customer might have—especially whenever they’re pinging support trying to figure out how to cancel their subscription.
Having insight into these sorts of issues without having to deal with the mess of CC/BCCs and a million email threads can make the difference between retaining a customer and having them churn.
Customer support teams often see the most benefit from collaborative email.
With tools like Missive, support teams can receive and respond to support inquiries in real-time from traditional channels like email, but also instant messaging channels like live chat, SMS, and social media thanks to its Twilio and social integrations.
When you try to manage support inquiries from a shared inbox in the traditional way, it’s easy for customer issues to slip through the cracks and fail to get the attention they deserve in a timely manner.
This happens all the time and customer support teams need all the help they can to help customers solve their problems, keep them happy, and reduce churn.
Monthly recurring revenue (MRR) is the lifeblood of the subscription business. Without predictable sources of revenue, it’s impossible to sustain your business over the long-term. On the flip side, it’s critical to track churned MRR to assess how customer attrition affects your revenue. If you’re losing customers too quickly, it can seriously hurt your ability to grow.
— Patrick Campbell, Profitwell
How you treat your customers and the value you provide will dramatically impact where you fall on the chopping block whenever economic shifts and markets change.
Failing to address churn by giving customer support (and success) the tools they need while simultaneously investing ridiculous amounts of capital into sales software and more SDRs to spam the market isn’t a sustainable growth strategy.
Accounts receivable and accounts payable teams can tackle outstanding payments due and vendor invoices quickly and efficiently. Especially whenever an approval process is required or back-and-forth communication needs to occur.
Executives in businesses of all sizes can get a ton of benefits from collaborative email when working with an executive assistant or chief of staff.
Being able to easily delegate incoming and outgoing emails from multiple emails via an alias can ensure things flow smoothly from the top down.
A good EA can also manage your inbox collaboratively without having to share your email credentials and lose insight into what’s been addressed and what hasn’t. Whether that’s responding to an important customer or helping you achieve inbox zero.
This is especially important for smaller businesses leveraging a VA remotely who aren’t quite ready to hand over login credentials to their email.
Staying Ahead of the Curve
Slack promised to be the email killer—but it’s 2022 and email is still here.
Keeping up with what’s going on throughout our organizations both internally and externally isn’t going to get any easier.
As our teams and the work we do become more decentralized our communication needs to become more centralized if we want to continue to keep up with what’s most important and provide the best experience for our customers we possibly can.