8 Shared Mailbox Best Practices for Customer Support
Managing a customer support email inbox can be 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 mailbox. 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.
What Is a Shared Inbox?
To rewind for a moment—what exactly is a shared inbox? In short, it's an email inbox that multiple people can access. By using a shared inbox, team members can collaborate on customer support messages, easily view past conversations, and avoid duplicate email responses.
This type of mailbox is often used by customer support teams but can be beneficial for any team that needs to manage email communications—from sales teams to project managers.
You might be wondering: why not just use a regular inbox? After all, couldn't multiple people access the same email account?
Sure, you could grant your team access to a group email address through password sharing, but there are several reasons why a shared inbox is a better solution:
- A shared inbox is organized in a way that makes sense for your team. For example, you can create folders for each stage of the customer journey or use labels to group similar types of requests or questions. With a regular inbox, you would have to rely on search functions to find specific emails.
- A shared inbox makes it easy to assign tasks and track who's working on what.
- A shared inbox can be set up so only certain team members can access certain parts of the inbox.
- Shared inboxes often come with features and integrations that regular inboxes don't have. For instance, Missive's Team Inbox feature allows you to snooze messages, set up automatic reminders, and track message statuses (more on that later).
- Shared inboxes avoid the security risks that come with password sharing by allowing team members to access the account using their own credentials.
8 Shared Inbox Best Practices
From recording your processes and creating systems of accountability to leveraging automation and making security a priority, there are many ways to get the most out of your shared inbox.
Here are 8 of the best practices to keep in mind:
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 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:
1. Acknowledge the complaint and apologize for the inconvenience.
2. Attempt to resolve the issue.
3. If the issue can't be resolved, offer a refund or other compensation.
4. Follow up with the customer to make sure they're satisfied with the resolution.
Then, using Missive's Live Chat feature, you can instantly share the links to your processes with all of your team members whenever you need to. For example, suppose you're onboarding a new customer support agent. In that case, you can share the link to your processes with them in Missive so they can reference it if they have questions about responding to customer inquiries.
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 inboxes, 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.
With Missive, several automation features come together to empower you to do just that with rules, assignments, and chat features.
Rules are automated actions that are triggered when certain conditions are met. For example, you can set up time-based rules so that every email that comes in must be responded to within a certain number of hours. And if not, that same rule could notify the team that someone needs to follow up.
With Missive, you can assign customer inquiries to specific team members or teams. When incoming emails are assigned, team members will get notified via chat, email, or push notification (depending on their preferences). The assignments also appear at the top of their inbox, so they can't miss them.
Not only can you assign a given task to one person, but you can also assign it to multiple people. So, if you need someone to follow up on an inquiry but aren’t sure which team member is available, you can assign it to the whole team, and whoever has the time can follow up.
And last but not least, assignments can be broken down into smaller tasks so that each team member has a specific and actionable item to work on. For example, if you need someone to export a contract PDF, you can create a task for them that says exactly that, while another person could be assigned the task of responding to the customer.
Ever get frustrated because you're trying to get someone's attention via email, and they're not responding? With Missive, you can chat with your team members in real-time. So if you need to follow up on a message that's been sitting in a shared inbox for too long, you can send them a chat message and get a response right away.
Chat features also help teams avoid the headaches caused by endlessly forwarding emails by allowing them to comment on and share email threads instead.
3. Make Security a Priority
Before shared inboxes, the only way to give a team access to shared emails was to provide them with your password. But sharing passwords is a huge security risk that can lead to many problems down the road.
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 email management tools that prioritize sharing and collaboration, like Missive, you can give team members access to a shared inbox through their own accounts without sharing passwords.
In Missive, Team Inboxes work just like regular email accounts. Team members can log in with their credentials and have full access to the shared inbox.
Within the team inbox, they can do everything they need to, from reading and responding to customer emails to managing their settings and preferences. If they ever leave the company, all you have to do is remove them from the team inbox, and they'll no longer have permission to access it.
If a team member needs to step away for a vacation or sick day, they can easily do so without disrupting the flow of new emails entering the shared inbox. Gone are the days of having to scramble to change passwords or figure out who will cover for someone who’s out of the office.
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 customer support 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.
In Missive, using Shared Labels (also called organization labels) is the go-to way to organize your team's conversations. You can also find and open all conversations with a specific label easily. You don't have to go through every conversation one by one.
On top of that, you choose who on your team can see each label. So if you have labels that are only relevant to certain members of your team, you can hide them from the rest of the team.
And did we mention that you can choose icons and colors for each label? This is a great way to organize your inbox further and make it easier for team members to scan and find the emails they're looking for.
5. Leverage Automation
Most email management apps come with some form of automation built-in. And for a good reason. Automation can help take care of the tedious and time-consuming tasks that come with managing a shared inbox, 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.
In Missive, you can use rules to automate just about anything, from assigning emails to team members to creating new tasks. You can even automatically add notes to a conversation if you know certain clients have specific requirements.
For example, if you know that a client always wants to get their shipment by 10 am, you can set up a rule so that a note is automatically added to the conversation whenever that client contacts you.
6. Eliminate Forwarding and Copying With Comments and Chat
If you're not using a shared inbox management tool, 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.
With Missive, you can leave comments on email threads and chat with team members directly from the tool. That way, you save time by not having to forward emails back and forth, and you can be sure that everyone has the latest information.
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. Better yet, if they're struggling with an issue, you can jump into the conversation and help them out directly, or they can ask you for help in the chat and get an answer right away without having to leave the mail conversation.
And if they don't want to leave a comment on an email thread, they can easily use Missive's built-in rooms for chatting. With a couple of clicks, they can create an on-demand conversation with the relevant team members and continue the discussion there.
Both the chat and comments feature in Missive are designed to help team members collaborate more effectively and resolve customer requests more quickly without switching between different tools. No longer will they leave Gmail to discuss an issue in Slack, only to come back to Gmail and forget what they were talking about.
7. 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 inbox, you can't afford to have team members spending hours crafting the perfect response to each customer 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.
In Missive, you can easily create and manage canned responses from the tool. You can even create different types of canned responses for different situations. For example, you could create a canned response for use when customers are happy with your product and an alternate canned response for addressing their concerns.
Then, you can share those canned responses with specific team members or everyone at your company. And if you ever need to update a canned response, you can edit it on the fly, and everyone will immediately have access to the new version. No more forwarding new versions of email templates to team members!
And for team members, these canned responses are hassle-free to access. All they need to do is search by title, subject, or content, and Missive will automatically suggest the most relevant canned responses. In just a few seconds, they can have an answer drafted, customized, and sent to the customer.
Canned responses can also be organized by label. You can create different labels for each team and share specific canned responses with them. That way, the customer support team has quick access to FAQs, and the sales team has quick access to product information and pricing. Could it get any easier?
8. 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 email 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've covered so far 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 email, 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.
Finally, you can use an email client like Missive that makes it easy to triage and take action on your email. Missive allows you to snooze emails, set reminders, and even delegate emails to other team members, all from within the tool.
With Missive's help, you can easily achieve inbox zero and start enjoying the benefits that come with it.
Choosing the Right Shared Email Inbox for Your Team
Microsoft Outlook and Gmail 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!