8 Shared Mailbox Best Practices for Better Collaboration
Are you wondering how to manage a shared mailbox so it stops being a daunting task? Between keeping track of customer conversations, managing team member schedules, and responding to messages, there's a lot to juggle and even more to keep organized.
One way to streamline the process and make things run smoothly is to set up a shared inbox. But having a shared mailbox isn't all it takes to optimize efficiency.
By following these best practices, you can better manage your team's time, keep everyone on the same page, and provide top-notch customer service. Adopting these best practices early will also ensure that your company can easily scale without running into problems.
Table of Contents
- What Is a Shared Mailbox?
- 8 Shared Mailbox Best Practices to Use in Your Workflow
What Is a Shared Mailbox?
A shared mailbox is a mailbox that multiple team members can access to view and, unlike distribution lists, send emails from the same email address.
This type of mailbox is often used by sales and customer support teams but can be beneficial for any team that needs to manage email communications.
8 Shared Mailbox Best Practices to Use in Your Workflow
From recording your processes and creating systems of accountability to leveraging automation and making security a priority, following these tips for managing a shared inbox will help you be more efficient.
1. Record Your Processes
Have you ever been on a team where everyone seems to be doing things differently? Maybe one person responds to customer inquiries right away while another waits a few hours. Maybe one person CC's the whole team on every email while another only CC's relevant team members.
This can lead to confusion, frustration, and subpar customer service.
It's essential to have your processes documented. That way, everyone on your team follows the same best practices and procedures. It'll also make it easier to onboard new team members without training them on everything from scratch.
To record your workflow, you can use tools like Google Drive Docs, Notion, Guru, and more. All you need to do is lay out the steps that need to be taken for each type of customer request.
For example, let's say you're setting up a process for responding to customer complaints. Your process might look something like this:
Acknowledge the complaint and apologize for the inconvenience.
Attempt to resolve the issue.
If the issue can't be resolved, offer a refund or other compensation.
Follow up with the customer to make sure they're satisfied with the resolution.
You can then share your processes with all of your team members whenever you need to. For example, suppose you're onboarding a new customer support agent.
2. Create Systems of Accountability
The worst thing that can happen in customer support is an email going unanswered. Unfortunately, it's all too easy for emails to fall through the cracks, especially when you're dealing with a high volume of inquiries.
Thanks to shared work mailboxes, you can create systems of accountability to ensure every customer request is handled promptly and professionally and that each team member is doing their fair share of work.
Decide who will be responsible for checking and responding to messages in the mailbox. It's usually best to have one primary person who checks and responds to messages, with others only checking the mailbox periodically. This will help to avoid duplicate responses and ensure that messages are dealt with in a timely manner.
3. Make Security a Priority
Using a regular inbox as a shared mailbox for a shared email address account is a very risky and insecure practice.
Giving your team access to shared emails by sharing an alias credential, in Gmail or Outlook, for example, is a huge security risk that can lead to many problems down the road ranging from information leaks to hacking.
Apart from security concerns, many pitfalls come with sharing passwords.
What happens when someone on your team leaves the company and you have to change the password? You have to go through the pain of changing it for everyone on your team. And if you forget to do that, you’re back at square one with a security risk on your hands.
Luckily, with team email management tools that prioritize sharing and collaboration, like Missive, you can give team members access to a collaborative mailbox through their own accounts without sharing passwords.
Even with these tools, it’s best to stick to these best practices: don’t store passwords in unsecured locations like a post-it note, don’t log in to the mailbox from unsecured Wi-Fi networks, and use multi-factor authentication.
4. Organize Emails Using Labels
A shared inbox can quickly become a cluttered mess if emails aren't properly organized. This is where labels (tags that you can apply to emails) come in.
You can use labels to categorize emails in any way you see fit. For example, you could create a label for all customer requests that need follow-ups. Or you could create labels for each stage of the customer journey (e.g., "new customer," "subscriber," "loyal customer," etc.).
Not only do labels make it easy to find specific emails, but they also help your different teams keep track of the work that needs to be done.
For example, if there are several requests labeled "follow-up," the team knows that those need to be dealt with as soon as possible.
5. Use Canned Responses for Faster, Uniform Replies
Let's face it, not all team members are gifted writers. And when you're dealing with a shared mailbox, you can't afford to have team members spending hours crafting the perfect response to each customer's email.
Canned responses (also known as email templates) are a lifesaver in this situation. They allow team members to quickly respond to frequently asked questions with pre-written replies that can be easily customized for each customer.
Not only do these templates shorten response times, but they also ensure that all team members are replying to similar requests in the same way. This is important for maintaining a consistent brand voice and providing a positive customer experience.
6. Go for Inbox Zero
Inbox zero is the holy grail of email management, and it's something that every team should strive for. But what is inbox zero, exactly?
Inbox zero is the practice of keeping your inbox empty (or as close to empty as possible) at all times. That means handling each email as it comes in and either taking action, delegating it, or filing it away for later.
The goal of inbox zero is to minimize the time you spend managing your inbox and maximize the time you spend doing work. And while it may seem like a daunting task, it's achievable with a little bit of effort and organization.
The best practices we cover will help you achieve inbox zero, but there are a few other things you can do.
You can set up email filters to automatically sort your email into different folders. That way, you can easily find the email you're looking for without having to search through your entire inbox.
You can also set up rules to automatically delete certain types of emails, such as spam or emails from mailing lists. This will help keep your inbox clean and make it easier to find the email that's actually important.
7. Leverage Automation
Shared mailboxes often end up filled with a lot of emails and it can be a tedious and time-consuming task to manage. Luckily many shared mailbox management apps come with some form of automation built-in so your team can focus on more important things.
For example, you can set up an automated message to be sent to customers when their request comes in. This way, they know that their message has been received and that someone is working on a solution.
You can also automate the assignment of requests to specific team members. For instance, you could set up a rule so that all messages from customers in a particular region are automatically assigned to the team member responsible for that region.
8. Eliminate Forwarding and Copying With Comments and Chat
If you're not using a shared inbox software, chances are you're relying on forwarding and copying (CC'ing) emails to keep team members in the loop. But there's a better way.
Microsoft Outlook shared mailbox or Google Gmail shared inbox don’t offer built-in ways to communicate around emails with your teammates. Their solutions keep you reliant on forwarding emails to coworkers to collaborate.
This exposes you to accidentally sending internal information to the wrong people. The other way to communicate is to leave Gmail to discuss an issue in Slack, and come back to Gmail, however, you’ll lose all context around the email.
Shared inbox software often let you add a comment to email conversations. For example, If you're onboarding a new team member, you can leave a comment on an email thread with all the relevant information they need to know to answer the customer's inquiry.
Shared Mailbox Are Not All Created Equal
Gmail and Office 365 shared mailbox were perfect for the early days of email, but they're not designed for modern team collaboration. Today, there's no reason to spend hours managing your email when there are tools that can do it for you.
If you want to take your customer support to the next level, you need a dedicated shared inbox tool. Modern shared inbox software has a lot to offer, from increased productivity and better customer satisfaction to features like canned responses, email delegation, accountability systems, and more.
Missive is a tool designed specifically for today's customer support teams. With Missive, you can easily collaborate with team members, take action on customer requests, and provide a better overall customer experience. Unlock the power of your customer support team today with Missive!