Running a small or medium-sized business is like being the ringmaster of your own circus. From juggling tasks to taming unruly projects, you’ve got your hands full! And let’s not forget about those pesky emails that can make you feel like you’re trapped in a never-ending game of chess.
As simple as it seems, managing emails can be a real tightrope walk. It’s most demanding when you’re trying to sort through and respond to overwhelming inquiries. The truth is, email overload can make you lose your zest for replying, and before you know it, your productivity takes a nosedive.
But don’t throw in the towel just yet! The solution to this email juggling act is shared inboxes.
Now you might be wondering, “What’s a shared inbox, and why do I need it? How can it help me tame the wild beasts of customer communication?” Well, grab some popcorn and settle in, because we’re about to reveal everything you need to know about this team inbox management magic trick.
What is a shared inbox?
Say you own a small clothing boutique in New York, employing three staff members. Each handles customer inquiries through individual email accounts. This leads to frequent email forwarding among team members, causing slow response times and hindering collaboration and efficiency. So, what’s the secret sauce to fixing this email mess?
Drumroll, please… Say hello to the shared inbox!
A shared inbox is a single email account accessible by multiple team members. It lets your team members tackle customer questions and concerns without having to forward emails or double up on efforts. The result? Smoother communication, better collaboration, and a happier, more efficient team.
Unlike your run-of-the-mill email accounts, a shared email is perfect for teams that need to put their heads together and share information. Plus, it’s packed with handy tools for scheduling, filtering, and collaborating. And the cherry on top? Reduced email overload! Your team can keep an eye on customer conversations, prioritize responses, and keep everything running like a well-oiled machine.
Here’s a quick snapshot of how traditional emails stack up against shared inboxes:
Types of shared inboxes
Think shared inboxes are all the same? Think again! Just like your favorite ice cream, there’s a variety of flavors to suit your business cravings. Let’s scoop into the three main types of shared inboxes: team-based, department-customer-project-based, and role-based.
A. Team-based shared inbox
Team-based shared inbox is the go-to choice for team efficiency and shared responsibility. This type of team inbox email is perfect for companies with smaller teams who need multiple members to access and manage a single email account. Since most companies often do, it’s the foundational inbox of the three types.
For example, your sales team might use a team-based shared inbox to manage incoming leads and customer inquiries by creating sub-teams. Your project team might use it to manage communication with external stakeholders by assigning divisions to team members.
But beware, just like double-dipping your cone, confusion and duplicated efforts can happen if team members aren’t clear about their email responsibilities.
B. Department, customer, project-based shared inbox
Department/customer/project-based (DCP-based) shared inbox is all about categorizing and focusing on specific business aspects, like departments, customers, or projects. Think of it as the neat and tidy email sharing solution for those who love a well-organized and productive email life.
DCP-based shared inbox is great for working on internal stuff, like HR or company policies, or even handling external stuff like customer requests. Usually, businesses with larger teams and more departments and customers lean towards it. Just remember, this approach might require a solid team-based email foundation to keep things running smoothly.
The main challenge here? Too many moving parts can sometimes make it hard to maintain a cohesive operation.
C. Role-based shared inbox
A role-based shared inbox highlights specific functions or roles within your team. It doesn’t target customers or departments, but rather the unique skills and contributions your team members bring to the table. Think of it as a finely tuned collaborative email system designed to produce the best results.
For example, your customer support team might use a role-based shared inbox to divvy up customer inquiries and support requests. It’s like a well-choreographed dance: A handles this, B takes care of that, and C tackles the rest. This way, your team members can collaborate seamlessly and make sure all customer inquiries get the attention they deserve, without missing a beat.
Of course, every great performance has its challenges. The role-based shared mailbox can become a bit cluttered, so it’s essential to use tags, labels, or filters as your stage crew to keep things running smoothly.
Similarities and differences between them
Here is a comparison table that shows similarities and differences between the three types of shared inbox. It provides an overview and highlights scenarios or situations where you need each shared inbox.
When does a need for a shared inbox arise?
There’s a lot of chatter out there about whether or not every small business needs a shared inbox software. Some say it’s a must, while others think it’s overkill for smaller teams with a low email volume. While the opinions vary, you’re the expert in your own matters.
Here are a few scenarios when a shared inbox might be just the ticket to keep your customers smiling and your team juggling emails like pros:
A. Growing businesses with increasing customer queries
As your small business grows and gains attention, your customer base expands alongside it. As a result, you’ll have to deal with a wave of customer inquiries that need prompt and efficient responses.
For example, consider an online clothing store that’s just hit the big time on social media. As their customer base grows, so do the questions about sizing, shipping, returns, and more. This ensures that the store has decisions to make on how best to tackle customers’ questions.
Cue the social media shared inbox! This nifty tool lets the whole team dive into the email ocean and keep customers happier. By giving everyone access to the inbox, there’s no need for endless forwarding, and team collaboration goes through the roof. With it, the store can streamline communication, boost collaboration, and keep those satisfied customers coming back for more.
B. Teams collaborating on complex or ongoing customer issues
When your team is tackling intricate problems that need input from multiple experts or require ongoing follow-ups, a shared inbox is your best friend. This is especially true for post-sales support or high-priority concerns.
Picture this: An IT company provides custom software solutions for businesses, and a client reports a critical bug affecting their daily operations. The support team, including software developers, quality assurance specialists, and customer support reps, must join forces to diagnose the issue, find the root cause, and develop a swift fix.
That’s where the Gmail shared inbox swoops in to save the day! It gives everyone a centralized platform to access and manage emails related to the problem. With a shared inbox, your team can easily assign tasks, track progress, and keep a clear communication history. That way, no vital info gets lost, everyone’s in sync, and the client gets the speedy support they deserve.
C. Organizations looking to streamline their internal communication & centralize customer communication
SMBs often hit a stage where they need to streamline internal communication and centralize customer interactions. This usually happens during growth, when teams expand, departments diversify, and customer interactions increase.
Traditional email systems can become inefficient, resulting in slow response times, miscommunication, and decreased productivity. In such a scenario, email sharing software becomes essential for smooth and effective communication.
Consider a mid-sized company that has expanded its product line and customer base significantly. As a result, they now have multiple departments handling various aspects of the business, from sales and marketing to customer support and product development.
To ensure seamless collaboration, it’s crucial for the company to have a centralized communication system that keeps everyone in the loop and on the same page regarding customer queries and concerns. This is where a shared mailbox comes in, offering the much-needed visibility and organization for both internal and customer communication.
D. Businesses aiming to improve response times & customer satisfaction using reports and data
The best shared inbox software can work wonders for small and medium businesses wanting to boost response times and customer happiness. It centralizes email chatter, making sure no question goes ignored while promoting smooth teamwork.
Shared inboxes also shed light on team performance with reports and analytics. Managers can monitor vital metrics like response time, resolution time, and customer satisfaction, pinpointing improvement areas and fine-tuning efficiency.
Consider a local ride-hailing firm, grappling with slow replies due to SMS floods. After adopting an sms shared inbox, they slash response times, elevating client contentment and sharpening project management. Plus, the data from the shared inbox help them spot and fix snags, further polishing team output.
Why a shared inbox is better than personal inboxes, distribution lists & Google groups?
When it comes to managing team and customers emails, business owners often debate whether to use shared inboxes, distribution lists, Google Groups, or Google Workspace. Here is the difference between them and why a shared inbox is a better option:
|General Features||Shared Inbox||Distribution List||Google Groups||Google Workspace|
|Advanced Email Management||✔️||❌||❌||❌|
As a business owner or team member, it’s easy to see that Shared Inbox, Google Groups, and Google Workspace take the cake when it comes to collaboration and access control, customization, and integration. Shared Inbox and Google Workspace shine in conversation tracking, making customer communication a breeze.
On the flip side, Distribution Lists fall short in essential features for collaboration and efficiency. Moreover, Google Groups and Google Workspace miss the mark in advanced email management, where Shared Inbox shines. In a nutshell, Shared Inbox stands out as the go-to choice for businesses aiming to supercharge their team communication.
02. Ease of use
|Specific Feature||Shared Inbox||Distribution List||Google Groups||Google Workspace|
|Ease of Use||✔️||❌||❌||❌|
When it comes to ease of use, shared inboxes are the real deal! They’re a breeze to set up, and their intuitive interface lets team members swiftly access and manage emails. Distribution lists, however, can be a bit tricky, with emails often going astray or getting lost in the shuffle.
Google Groups is user-friendly but might be a bit complex for those not well-versed in Google Workspace. Moreover, it lacks some features available in shared inboxes, which can make it less appealing for certain users.
Google Collaborative Inbox, though free and simple to set up, sports a more intricate interface that can be tough to navigate. So, shared inboxes still steal the spotlight as the most user-friendly choice!
|Specific Feature||Shared Inbox||Distribution List||Google Groups||Google Workspace|
Shared inboxes, Google Groups, and Google Workspace all provide scalable solutions for growing teams. As mentioned, Google Workspace shared mailboxes give multiple team members access, simplifying the process. Everyone can conveniently use their own email account credentials to access shared mailboxes.
Google Groups allows sending emails to multiple users. However, they don’t count as users in your Google Workspace account. Shared inboxes, on the other hand, are set up as “users” in Google Workspace, offering more advanced scalability options. So, while all three choices are scalable, shared inboxes and Google Workspace take the lead in flexibility!
Top 3 widely-used shared inboxesContent
Best for SMBs: Helpwise
Helpwise is a smooth-sail for support squads managing customer questions from various channels like email, SMS, social media, and live chat. It merges messages from diverse sources into one inbox for easy team access. To keep things clear, Helpwise employs collision alerts and auto-assigns tasks based on guidelines.
You can whip up custom email signatures, stash conversations, and search them effortlessly with Helpwise. Collaborate on shared SMS inboxes to directly aid customers. The platform balances workloads by automating query allocation.
What’s more, Helpwise connects with over 50 phone systems and task management tools. It can work as outlook shared email and even whatsapp shared inbox. It’s ideal for small to medium businesses craving a user-friendly, email-like interface.
Pricing-wise, Helpwise has a free trial with basic features. Paid plans kick off at $15/user/month for standard, $25/user/month for premium, $50/user/month for advanced plan and custom pricing for Enterprise. Helpwise empowers you to offer tailor-made experiences to customers, regardless of your company size.
Recommendation: Helpwise is best for small to medium-sized businesses that require a wide range of integrations and a familiar email client-like interface.
Best for enterprise: Front
Front is a shared inbox platform designed for enterprise-level businesses. It helps manage customer communication across channels like email, SMS, and social media. With Front, you can create shared inboxes, use collision alerts, and categorize conversations with tags for easy sorting.
The platform promotes collaboration by enabling chat within conversation threads and offering options to assign or snooze conversations. Front also provides analytics and reporting to gain customer insights and optimize response times and processes.
Integration is seamless with popular applications like Salesforce, HubSpot, Asana, Trello, Slack, and Jira. Overall, Front is a user-friendly platform that enhances account management and team collaboration on customer communication.
For pricing, Front offers a $19/user/month Starter plan, a $49/user/month Plus plan, and custom pricing for the Enterprise plan. With Front, enterprise-level businesses can easily manage and collaborate on customer communications.
Recommendation: Front is suitable for enterprise-level businesses that need a user-friendly platform for account management and collaboration on customer communication.
Best for mid-markets: Hiver
Hiver is designed for mid-market teams who prefer to work within Gmail, offering a variety of features to enhance their experience. These features are grouped into several categories:
For shared inbox management, Hiver enables collaboration on shared inboxes such as services@, orders@, and support@. Team members can assign incoming emails and chats, and a collision detection feature prevents duplicate responses to the same email.
Hiver also offers detailed analytics, SLA monitoring, email templates, and customer satisfaction surveys to track and improve performance. As it is built specifically for Gmail and Google Workspace, Hiver enhances the experience for various teams but does not support other email interfaces like shared email box outlook.
Pricing starts at $14/user/month for the Lite plan, $22/user/month for the Growth plan, and $49/user/month for the Scale plan (minimum 10 users required).
Recommendation: Hiver is ideal for mid-market teams that prefer to stay within the Gmail interface and require a Gmail-centric.
In the business communication world, shared inboxes are the ultimate tool for taming the wild beasts of customer inquiries and support requests. By centralizing communication, improving collaboration, and fostering shared responsibility among team members, shared inboxes can help your small or medium-sized business achieve greater efficiency, organization, and productivity.
Whether you opt for a team-based, department-customer-project-based, or role-based shared inbox, the benefits are clear: smoother communication, faster response times, and a happier, more efficient team. It’s time to leave the chaos of personal inboxes, distribution lists, and Google groups behind and embrace the collaborative magic of shared inboxes.
Test out solutions like Helpwise, Front, or Hiver to discover which shared inbox is the perfect fit for your business and elevate your team’s communication game to new heights. Helpwise, most especially, can help you transform your team’s communication and collaboration experience. Click here to sign up for a 7-day free trial and take the first step towards a more organized and efficient business communication system.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Q. What is shared inbox vs user inbox?
A shared inbox is a single email account accessible by multiple team members, allowing for collaborative handling of customer inquiries and concerns. A user inbox, on the other hand, is an individual email account used by a single person, limiting collaboration and often leading to email forwarding among team members.
Q. How does a shared inbox work?
A shared inbox works by centralizing email communication, granting multiple team members access to a single email account. This enables team members to collaboratively manage customer inquiries and concerns, assign tasks, track progress, and streamline communication without having to forward emails or duplicate efforts.
Q. How do I create a shared inbox?
To create a shared inbox, choose a shared inbox provider or software that fits your business needs. Sign up and follow the provider’s instructions to set up your shared inbox, adding the relevant team members, assigning permissions, and customizing settings according to your requirements.
Q. How do I manage a shared inbox?
To manage a shared inbox, assign roles and permissions to team members, set up rules for email categorization, and utilize tools like tags, labels, and filters to keep the inbox organized. Monitor team performance and response times through reports and analytics provided by your shared inbox software to identify areas for improvement and enhance overall efficiency.