Let’s be honest: is there anyone out there who doesn’t feel their cortisone levels shoot up a little when, at 8:45am, over those first few sips of morning coffee, they watch 100 new emails flood into their inbox? What about those of us who monitor general company inboxes, like questions@companyA.com or customerservice@ABCinc.com? If that’s you, you’re probably thinking: “try 250” or “try 300” or maybe more. I feel ya.
When I was working as D.O. for a multidepartmental law firm, I monitored 6 different general department/team inboxes along with my personal email. I used to start up the trusty iPad when I arrived at the office and head down to get my coffee ready. On a slow day, that 5 min coffee run was just enough time for all the inboxes to sync up. During busier days and weeks, though, I could get through a good half a cup before the little “notifications count” bubble on my mail app stopped rising.
The irony of it was that we had built these team inboxes to help alleviate stress and streamline processes. Within each department, there were multiple team members who monitored that department’s general inbox along with me. The idea was that centralizing general departmental communications and keeping a “community” of personnel “in the loop” would build a stronger team-based approach to task and project management. It brought some peace to think that there were other eyes on all those emails. The idea was simple. The idea was great. In theory…
Pretty immediately some of the practical issues surfaced: how could we consistently track who had seen which emails and who was following up on them? Had someone responded to this email yet? Should I respond? Should I assign this task out, or had someone already taken it on?
By the end, we had to develop a complex system of “first responders” and cc’s and bcc’s that cluttered up the mailboxes with internal emails. Even then, mistakes happened, responses were delayed and untimely, and emails fell through the cracks. It was a simple and great idea, but a problematic, complicated system. We needed a tool of some kind that would marry the collaborative features we wanted with more traditional email. Well, now there is one: Inbox by Zendesk.
Zendesk Inbox makes team e-mail easy
Not long ago, Green Egg Media was invited to participate in the usability testing of this platform. Now we have been using it as beta testers, and, honestly, it’s a different world. If you have shared or team email inboxes, you have got to check this out.
Inbox allows you to link your team inboxes, e.g., firstname.lastname@example.org, to the Zendesk platform and add the team members who should have access to that mailbox. Don't have a shared e-mail address already? No problem - they'll set you up with one. Whenever an email is sent to your shared e-mail address, it arrives at Inbox and is available to all the designated team members. So far, pretty standard, but wait, there’s more!
Using Inbox, team members can then assign the email to one another; carry on private, internal commentary and communication about the e-mail right in the thread; and even respond to the email directly from the platform.
Now I can assign an email out and opt to “Follow” that email, so I receive notifications whenever messages are exchanged either internally or externally. I can jump on the comment board and add a “team note” to answer my team’s questions or provide them with instructions or feedback.
We love this product. Here at Green Egg Media, Inbox allows us to more quickly and accurately respond to e-mails that arrive in several of our shared e-mail boxes. Not only do our prospective customers and existing clients get faster responses, our entire team is kept in the loop throughout the process. In fact, Inbox will even tell you if another user from your team is currently viewing the same message - talk about convenient.
Another very powerful feature of Inbox is having the ability to show all other threads in the system that are from the person who started the thread you are currently working on. How many times have we had people e-mail us with the same question time and time again? Well, now you can just click the “More from…” link and see every thread that user has created. Find the relevant answer (from yesterday, last week, last month…) and you’re good to go.
We definitely could have used some of this “zen” that Zendesk is offering here back in my law firm days. I’m guessing that if you have team mailboxes, you could use some too. Plus, if you and your team get on board now, while the platform is still in its beta testing phase, you can use the platform for free indefinitely! It’s at least worth a try — see if it solves your problems the way it continues to solve ours.
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