Does your business have a shared inbox?

Most small, and nearly ALL large businesses have generic email inboxes that are logged into by two or more staff members. Sometimes it can get messy when everyone, or in some cases no one, log into the box to handle customer requests, questions, or just to clean it out.

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Why would you need a shared inbox?

Current and potential clients like to have generic email inboxes they can use to contact your company. Addresses like “info@”, “support@”, and “customerservice@” help them reach the right person. But sometimes it’s never just ONE person, but a group that keeps that inbox monitored. And this can sometimes cause collisions of two people working the same issue, or worse, ZERO people working the same issue because they thought it was being handled by someone else.

Ways to set up a shared inbox

  • Manual – An email gets sent to “info@” and several people all see it in their inbox. Someone has to accept that email, read it, respond back to the sender, then file that email in a different folder or use whatever process is mandated by the business to mark it as complete.The problem arises when the inbox is set up incorrectly and not everyone sees it being read so multiple people start working the issue, or everyone sees it and assumes it will be handled by someone else so no one helps the customer.In this case, there needs to be a documented process of who handles it and when. If rep A is gone, rep B works it. If it sits for more than “x” hours then the manager or someone else is specified to handle it. If there are no documented processes you will have breakdowns or cause extra work on certain issues.
  • Forms on the Website – Putting a form on the website does a couple of things. First, you don’t give out actual email addresses but you can still direct subjects selected by the client to a particular email address. This means all “info@,” “questions@,” or whatever goes to an actual person, not a group of people, but the client doesn’t see who gets it. This also allows some flexibility when someone leaves the company, is on vacation, or is just too busy to handle these types of requests.A second benefit of forms is they allow you to format the information being gathered instead of just letting the sender put whatever information they wish into the form. So you can ask for and even require names, email addresses, phone numbers, subjects, and just about anything else you want or need.Finally, many of these forms can be saved to a database AND sent to a person or persons, so in the event email goes down, a person’s address is terminated for whatever reason, or something just isn’t handled right away, you can look at the data and recover this request and fix the issue.The one drawback is this format requires the user to actually go to the website to submit the form instead of just firing off an email from their phone or email application.
  • CRM – Customer Relationship Management platforms are the next step beyond email forms. They are databases or applications that use form or email information to create tickets that can be handled by one or more people. Some potential CRM platforms in a wide variety of functions and price are Hubspot, Zoho and Freshdesk (what I use at BeBizzy).There are so many benefits to this type of system including:
    • Saved threads of communication with the client
    • Formatted questions that require the sender to provide necessary information to solve the issue like invoice numbers, usernames, phone numbers and more.
    • Many have the ability to add an FAQ, support forum, or other intermediary step where the sender can often solve their own problems or the group can solve it before you can.
    • Most CRM platforms are located off the website network, so it doesn’t affect the traffic or performance of the website
    • It provides an auditable trail to see how long it took to respond, how many interactions did it take before resolution, who handles how many tickets, and more.

Bottom Line

Shared inboxes are a great way to handle client request or questions. They allow your company to respond as a group instead of relying on just one person. But it more control is needed, the first step would be to create some forms on the website that send to specific people and save to a database. If the budget exists, or the need is great enough, a CRM is a great way to handle support tickets, general inquiries or other client requests. If the cost looks too big, weigh the option of what does it cost to lose a current or potential customer because something wasn’t handled right away.

Have any questions or suggestions on going paperless? Leave them below, or send them to me @BeBizzy on Twitter!

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