What Is a Shared Inbox? The Secret to Unlocking Customer Delight

August 19, 2019

Shared inbox

Emails slip through the crack all the time.

Your customers can’t do their job when you miss replying to important emails and solving service requests. This customer disappointment marks the beginning of a downward spiral and customer churn. If you’re having a tough time managing, reading, replying, and archiving customer conversations, shared inbox software can help.

The beauty of a shared inbox lies in its ability to streamline and centralize customer communications. With a shared inbox, your team can stop worrying about which emails are urgent, which customer questions they have answered, or who has responded.

A shared inbox is an evolution of the traditional email inbox that involves every channel a company uses to communicate with its customers or leads. The modern shared inbox has many features that enhance the unified customer experience. For example, it offers live chat, social media messaging inbox, private notes, audio-video calls, and shared browsing!

Shared inboxes aim to bring efficiency and transparency to companies. When all your communication channels are centralized, all your team can work together toward one goal. Instead of forwarding emails, you can assign the right person or mention them behind the scene. No more cc-ing someone, no more different software, and no more information lost. Everything is simpler.

Why use a shared inbox 

Smaller organizations don't often need a shared inbox as the forward queue is manageable. They can easily find out customer emails and keep support inboxes clean at all times.

As they scale, they sometimes need help finding emails, duplicate responses, or forgotten tickets. Support agents start thinking others will catch up and handle those pending emails. Consequently, customer support teams start emailing the wrong people.

This inbox confusion is the biggest problem for growing companies. A collaborative inbox software improves team collaboration and solves all these problems with the following:

  • Clear rules on who works on which customers and emails.
  • Ownership expectations around solving support tickets on time.
  • Real-time data insights so that each support agent makes the best decisions.

Now that you know why you should use shared inbox software, let's look at how it works.

How does a shared inbox work?

A shared inbox lets multiple users check a single inbox for incoming emails, reply to them, and manage customer conversations. It also features a common calendar to ease work shift scheduling or vacation management. 

You can’t log into a shared mailbox using workspace email credentials. Generally, support teams have full or send as access to shared mailboxes, depending on what work demands. You’ll come across three types of access permission in a shared mailbox:

  • Full access means complete access to a shared inbox.
  • Send as access is what you need to be able to send emails.
  • Send on behalf access lets you send emails on behalf of a shared inbox.

Group email vs. shared inbox

A group email is a single, dedicated email address you use to send emails to a group of people. For example, you can create a Gmail or Outlook project@companyname group and add all project management division employees. This way, you can easily share important project management updates with all product employees without remembering individual email addresses. 

group email vs. shared inbox
Group emails act as email distribution lists for teams, whereas shared inboxes let your team collaborate for managing, reading, and answering incoming emails. Group emails may have a shared calendar and mailbox but don’t necessarily facilitate communication among internal and external stakeholders. 

Shared inbox use cases

Transparency is easy for small teams. Knowing what each person is working on or getting background context on a customer is fast. As your team grows, the need for new tools appears. Multi-channel shared inbox solutions help you avoid switching back and forth between email accounts and tools. Plus, they create the best experience for teams. You'll have more efficiency as you connect your team inbox with other channels.

Sales teams

As shared inbox email client brings the whole company around one software, sales teams have to use it too. Integrating customer relationship management (CRM) systems or sales management tools into your shared inbox is a top practice. 

You improve customers' data availability when support or marketing interacts with them. It would be best if you also thought about voice over internet protocol (VoIP) software more than sales management tools. You can also integrate missed calls as text messages in your shared inbox. It helps your sales rep to manage their follow-up straight from one inbox.

Support teams

Customer feedback analysis is vital for companies. Marketing can better understand who they are targeting, sales teams can better qualify their leads, and product roadmaps are more highly focused. By connecting customer feedback tools or having a customer feedback feature in your shared email inbox, you centralize and enhance the customers’ knowledge.

For support teams, it’s the perfect way to improve customer support. Personalization is at the heart of conversational marketing. Having data at your team’s fingertips is something you won’t regret. You can offer better support when you bring knowledge to your customers.

Knowledge management systems with shared inboxes help your team avoid switching tools, improve response time, and make everyone happier.  

Product teams

By tracking bug and feature requests, your company can enhance how they build the roadmap. Better feature prioritization and issue tracking are crucial to transforming the customer experience.

Common shared inbox mistakes to avoid

A shared inbox is a powerful tool, but there are some things that you shouldn't do if you want to get the most out of this tool.

  • Only build a shared mailbox. Even if customer email management is still a very efficient channel, your customers may need support on other social networks like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and SMS or phone calls. This way, your team can answer your customer from the same software, not depending on other factors.
  • Gather one department of your company. A shared inbox is supposed to bring the whole company around one software, so it would be a mistake to let only a select few teams use it.
  • Lack of humanization. Your team has to have a high focus to be able to handle customer requests with the highest level of quality. By humanizing every part of the buyer journey, you're not putting your efforts where they should be. No, not everything should be automated, but think about the value of a human when asking: "How can I help you" or "Where do you want to go?"

When to move to a multi-channel shared inbox

Let's look at some scenarios to understand the best time to adopt a shared inbox system.

Super active social community

Social media customer service is growing among companies as customers use an average of seven channels to engage with brands. It doesn't matter the social media your business is available on, but your company has to be able to answer customers everywhere it is needed.

While building your shared inbox, set a social listening tool alongside your shared inbox. It will help your customer support to better engage with your brand. 

Frequent support requests

Receiving frequent support requests means being able to monitor those requests. If you have separate tools, it's tough to create a dashboard that will centralize all your incoming requests.

Data is a crucial asset when building a multi-channel shared inbox. Teams need help to keep track of the origin of your contact. Once you configure your shared inbox, you'll be able to enjoy the simplicity of handling multi-channel customer support. Even monitoring your incoming support requests will get much more straightforward.

When setting up a shared inbox, track every incoming request with a tag, mentioning the origin of the contact. It will help you monitor and track your support's efficiency across channels.

Inefficiency in dealing with urgent requests

Not being able to handle an urgent request is a matter of efficiency. When customers expect you to resolve concerns quickly, you can rely on processes, tools, and customer service training to stay efficient.

The average first response time for live chat is about 48 seconds. The average handling time to resolve a customer's case is about 11 minutes. Overall, it shows live chat is the best channel to handle customers' requests efficiently and faster.

Live chat apps should be part of your multi-channel shared inbox strategy if you want to decrease the number of phone calls or improve the number of net new leads for your marketing team.

When building a shared inbox, especially looking at live chat, think about the proactive and reactive ways you can interact with your customers. There are many ways to welcome customers with a chat widget. It's up to you to uncover what works best.

So, what capabilities to look for when choosing a shared inbox software? Keep reading.

Shared inbox software features

Check out what functionality to look for as you explore the best shared inbox tools for your team.

  • Group email management is the feature that lets you manage email addresses like support@companyname, sales@companyname, and info@companyname. These emails let your team handle all emails from a central location. As a result, you can easily assign emails to specific agents, send them notifications, and avoid duplicate replies or forgotten emails.
  • Automated email workflows help you answer simple customer queries with canned responses. These answers help your team remain consistent and correct while solving customer problems faster.
  • Collision detection is another key feature that prevents two support agents from replying to the same customer email. A collaborative customer service email inbox uses routing rules to assign incoming emails as tickets to agents and avoid collisions.
  • Internal notes or discussions let you jot down and embed important info in each email. This centralized data helps you send personalized emails. Plus, you can use these internal comments to talk to other agents without forwarding or replying-all.
  • Data analytics lets you track metrics like email response times and identify areas of improvement. 

Best practices for managing a shared inbox

Below are five best practices for shared inbox, including saved replies, building routing rules, creating chatbots, using knowledge management software, and bringing context to your conversations.

1. Create saved replies

Saved replies, also known as canned responses, are populated shared inbox replies. They allow agents to answer customers' questions in a wink. 

An extensive catalog of saved replies can increase the customer service team's efficiency. By using template answers, you provide solutions to more customers. More than bringing efficiency, it allows better control of external communication by creating templates for generic messages like proposition value or advantages compared to competitors. 

  • Saved replies for sales: Sales are busy, and sometimes they need more time to answer even the most straightforward customer queries. A good practice is to create dedicated email templates for sales questions. These answers ensure support agents have the right messages and offer more time to the sales team to focus on what matters the most.

An example of a follow-up using canned responses would be:

Hey [customer name],

I'm [your name], [your job title] at [your company name].

 

I saw that you requested a demo but didn't go through the whole process.

If you would like to, here is a link to book a meeting with me: 

[Link to your calendar]

Regards,
[Your name]


  • Saved replies for support: Support teams can also benefit a lot from saved replies. They can leverage team inbox and knowledge base integration to find answers quickly and delight customers.

2. Build routing rules

One of the most incredible benefits of shared inboxes is routing rules, as they allow you to route messages to the correct department depending on the customers’ query.

How to set proper routing rules for a shared inbox?

Here is a process that could help you to set proper routing rules:

  • Create a tag for each department of the company.
  • Define the main subjects that could arise depending on each department.
  • Group people that can answer each specific topic.

Here are the questions you should ask yourself while building your tagging system:

  • What department should be involved in customer service?
  • How can I better segment messages to route them to the right people?
  • What defines who’s accountable for answering each message?
  • Who would be interested to know the details about this message?

3. Create a chatbot to put your lead gen on autopilot

Automation is a good practice in our global world. When your teams are asleep or spending time with their families, they are not answering your customers. As most modern shared inboxes offer the ability to build chatbots, it would be crazy not to step in.

4. Add a knowledge base

Companies still have a long way to go to understand how a knowledge base can benefit their business. Still, knowledge management systems are excellent for large organizations to share, store, and manage bodies of content across teams and departments.

5. Bring context to your conversations

Your business needs to create a personalized experience to deliver the best customer experience, which means that your customer service has to go above and beyond satisfying customers' needs. Providing genuinely customized customer service is challenging as it entails making the customers feel like they are unique.

To bring context to your customer service and personalize the experience, you must gather data about the customer profile. There are different data that you can access to offer the best experience to your customer, including:

  • Connecting your shared inbox to your CRM, as your software may offer some native integration
  • Automatically assigning tags showing the behavior of your customers
  • Understanding buyer intent based on their activities on your website
  • Knowing the demographics of your customers

Best shared inbox software in 2022

Shared inbox tools provide your team with collaborative space to access, read, and respond to emails. You can also merge multiple email accounts using these systems. Some software solutions also enable you to crowdsource knowledge and communicate with peers while replying to incoming emails.

To be included in the shared inbox software category, a product must:

  • Gather emails from one or more email accounts
  • Offer integrations for creating email response tasks and workflows
  • Enable users to communicate within the application
  • Let users allocate, manage, and divide inbox tasks

Delight customers with real-time interactions

Still not convinced that multi-channel shared inbox collaboration tools can be powerful for your business? You could start by simply trying to better engage with your website visitors by setting live chat, knowledge bases, or video popups to interact with them. 

Learn why customer experience should be your top priority and ways to improve it.

shared inbox software
Collaborate and answer emails together

With best-in-class shared inbox software.

shared inbox software
Collaborate and answer emails together

With best-in-class shared inbox software.

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