There are countless how a team can come together to work and deliver work. Communication and collaboration in the Sleck-era are never difficult. However, as a team, there need to be some best practices that must be put in place to make sure the team never misses its beat. A shared inbox happens to be one.
What is a shared mailbox?
A shared mailbox is a mailbox that multiple users or team members can access to read, send, or respond to emails. They are mostly used by customer support and customer success teams that usually use a single email for customers to reach them. A shared mailbox also has a common calendar which ensures that the team is able to fix meetings and coordinate them without any overlapping.
How does a shared mailbox work?
An individual mailbox, like firstname.lastname@example.org, is handled by a single individual. The access and retrieval of information are restricted to everybody else unless the user has shared the credentials with them.
A shared mailbox, on the other hand, is handled by multiple people using the same shared credentials. A shared mailbox is usually a public email address like email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org, etc., that is distinct from an individual user.
Common challenges in using a shared mailbox
Although a shared mailbox makes it easy for a team to come together and work with great ease, it also poses some serious challenges.
- It can lead to confusion if multiple personnel respond to the same customer email with various details
- It compromises security as everybody has access to the mailbox
- It compromises accountability as there is no clarity as to who will access the mailbox when
Despite these challenges, all hope is not lost. It is still possible to make a shared mailbox work for you. Here are some best practices that can help you with that.
Set time-based boundaries for access
As mentioned earlier, one of the downsides of a shared mailbox is that there is no proper clarity as to who will access the mailbox when. This lack of clarity can be eliminated by setting up a time-based boundary.
For example, access to the mailbox can be revoked for the UK team using US working hours and vice-versa. Setting up a shift system ensures that the access and usage of the shared mailbox have no collision incidents. Alternatively, a round-robin system can also be set up here where each team member takes turns to handle the mailbox.
Create an SOP (Standard Operating Procedure)
A Standard Operating Procedure ensures that there is a definite way of handling the mailbox. The SOP can also guide new recruits to get into the system and get into the flow. Also, the SOP can create a system of how to use allied tools like Docs, cloud storage, etc., in conjunction with the shared mailbox.
Furthermore, the SOP can also mention how the team would respond when there is a temporary outage, collision incidents, and so on.
Create mail labels and folders
One of the troubles in using a mailbox — be it an individual mailbox or a shared mailbox is keeping it organized. There are several types of emails that could land on the shared mailbox, like transactional emails, inquiry emails, complaint emails, updates, and so on.
If they are left unorganized, they can clutter the mailbox and create chaos within the team. Finding relevant information when needed for timely service of the customer would become impossible. Such a situation can be prevented by creating mail label folders. Labels are used to mark the emails pertaining to a specific type. Folders are used to group all emails of a certain under a common place where they can be easily accessed.
Aim for inbox zero
Inbox zero is a productivity system developed by productivity expert Merlin Mann. It aims to streamline email management by keeping the inbox empty — that is, down to zero unread emails. The idea is to assign every email to a person who will take it as an action item and see it to completion. This ensures that the shared mailbox becomes a control console of sorts that will enable a team to smoothly collaborate without any overlaps of duties or confusion as to who will do what.
Use canned responses
Canned responses are the staple form of responding for chatbots and live chat software. However, even a shared mailbox can use canned responses to maximize productivity. In a shared mailbox environment, the canned response can be used to acknowledge the receipt of an email.
Furthermore, if the mailbox is integrated with helpdesk software, a ticket can also assign the ticket number references in the email for faster resolution. It also gives the customer the feeling that their concern is being taken seriously and is being acted upon. One of the additional benefits of canned responses is that it also saves team members from having to write repetitive emails.
Set up automating email routing
This might seem like quite a stretch for smaller teams working with lean resources. However, implementing an automatic email routing system can drastically bring down the AWT (Average Waiting Time) of the customer.
The automatic call routing works the way an IVR works in phone support. It channels emails to designated people based on the issue. The system uses the subject line of the terms used in the mail body to determine the issue and route it to a specific individual.
Taking your shared mailbox from chaos to order
An unorderly shared mailbox is a sure recipe for chaos. It will defeat the very purpose for which it was created — augmenting productivity. However, by implementing best practices, the shared mailbox can become a sort of haven where multiple team members can work together and drive organizational growth. They can also become adept at serving customers better and excel at forging a customer-centric organization. The best practices mentioned above are not the actual final list. They can be considered a flag-off point. You can still improvise them based on the results that your team achieves.
Ashwini is passionate about Business, Entrepreneurship, E-commerce, emerging technology and Digital Marketing. She is working with Acquire as a digital marketing expert. She is a free soul and adventurous scholar who spends her free time with herself, loved once, music, as well as watching & playing sports. She is ocean addicted and on roads being a thrill-seeking traveler to get new experiences as she looks at life as our very own works of art.