Discover why you should be using a shared mailbox and how to optimize your company using your shared team inboxes to communicate with valuable clients and leads.

Whether you have a huge customer base and need to reply to hundreds of support tickets per week or run a consultancy with a small but high-value customer base, you’ll be handling your client-facing communication over email.

Shared team inboxes are an effective way to ensure communication doesn’t become siloed and key information doesn’t get hidden from view.

In this guide, I’m going to show you the best practices for managing a shared team inbox that you and your team can put to work to improve how you’re using your inboxes.

Let’s dive in.

What is a shared team inbox?

A shared team inbox is a mailbox that multiple members of your team can access and use.

Common examples of shared inboxes include:

It’s a good way to ensure key messages are never missed and your team is always on the same page about which incoming messages have been replied to, and which haven’t.

Why do you need shared inboxes?

There are a variety of benefits to having shared inboxes, but in our experience, the two areas of a business that shared team inboxes can have the biggest benefit for are your customer service and sales operations.

Here’s why:

Shared inboxes improve customer service cohesion

90% of people say that “customer service is important to their choice of and loyalty to a brand”, according to a survey from Microsoft.

It’s vital that your customer service team is always on top of incoming queries and tickets if you want to keep your customers happy.

A shared inbox helps to remove the potential for missed support tickets and long waiting times, as any member of your customer service team can jump into a ticket and answer a customer query as soon as it comes in.

Ensure your sales team never miss a key lead

If one of your sales reps is taking a day off and inbound sales leads are being directed to their inbox, you’ll have a situation where leads are left waiting for potentially days for a response. It’s no one’s fault — after all, we all need a day off sometimes.

However, if you’re regularly leaving sales leads waiting, you’ll have fewer conversations, and close fewer new deals. 

The data backs this up. Harvard Business Review research found that if you answer a sales lead within an hour, you’re 7x more likely to qualify them than if you waited over an hour to reply.

Research from Kellogg School of Management also discovered that the speed of response outweighs both time of day and the day of the week in its effect on contact and qualification ratios for sales teams.

Ensuring your team has a system to quickly engage with your sales leads is key to success. In the next section, I’ll show you some of the crucial best practices to help you and your team excel at managing your shared team inboxes.

Best practices for effective shared inbox management

1. Create a set of clear processes and systems

The first step is to talk to your customer service and sales teams to find out which activities and emails they find themselves repeating every day.

From there, you can start to create clear processes and systems to speed up their workflow.

For example, if you know your sales teams are sending near-identical emails to sales leads that they’re qualifying (or disqualifying), you can add those email templates to a shared knowledge base, or as a keyboard shortcut.

As well as speeding up the time it takes to write and format emails, you need to make sure key assets, such as sales decks, or customer service resources, are easily accessible in one centralized place.

Whenever your sales team needs to send a new deck to a potential client, they know exactly where it is, and know that it’s up-to-date.

2. Use a rota system for checking emails

If your entire team is checking their emails all day, nothing will get done (apart from email management!). 

We’re big advocates of using email productively, but, it shouldn’t be at the expense of other targets and KPIs your team is working towards.

To improve your shared inbox management, use a rota system for checking it.

For example, if you have a team of ten sales reps, it wouldn’t make sense to have all ten monitoring the inbox at the same time. After all, when a new sales inquiry lands in your inbox, they can’t all reply at the same time.

You can use a simple rota system to assign one or two members of your team to be responsible for your shared inbox at different intervals throughout the day. They’ll be focused on staying responsive while they’re managing your inbox, and the rest of your team can focus on generating new sales opportunities.

3. Run a Weekly inbox review

At the end of every week, sit down with your team to review your inbox and inbox management practices.

Ask your team questions like:

  • Did you miss any key emails?
  • What bottlenecks stopped leads and customers from getting a fast reply?
  • Is there anything you need that would help your inbox management?

Trust your team’s insights and work with them to improve inbox management, and over time, you can ensure your team is set up for success.

During this weekly review, you can use your timetoreply reports to identify if there were days or times that you received more emails than usual and improve your preparation for moments like those in the future.

As well as that, you can identify if there were any individuals or teams that struggled to hit their reply time targets and work with them to support them.

4. Share Internal Notes and Documentation on Key Clients

As your customer base grows, it becomes easy to lose track of individual conversations you’ve had with clients. But, you don’t want to lose any key information you have.

In the future, you’ll need to ask clients or leads questions that they’ve already answered, or have to ask your team to share information they have.

That’s going to slow your reply time and leave your leads or clients wondering if you’re listening to them.

To avoid this, log every key interaction you have with clients so other team members can easily jump into conversations in your shared mailbox.

These notes can be saved in your CRM system like Intercom or HubSpot, making it easy for anyone on your team to see them.

When your customer service agents or sales reps are talking to a customer (or lead), they’ll know all of the key details of past interactions and can surface them as needed.

It’ll also speed up the time it takes for agents to reply to customers as they won’t need to jump into your customer service Slack channel, or need to send emails to other team members to find out the information they need to do their job.

5. Measure your team’s Individual and group performance

If your email performance is a priority, then you need an effective way to measure and manage it. 

Then, you can optimize how you’re using your email accounts to communicate with your team, clients, and leads.

You can use timetoreply to quickly, effectively see insights into both your individual and shared inbox performance. It connects to your teams’ inboxes and you can see data on key email metrics such as:

  • Your email reply times
  • Average number of emails received and sent per day
  • Peak email hours

From there you can use your insights to address staffing problems, improve your email rota, and have the visibility needed to improve your team’s email productivity and performance.

Get started with a free trial and watch your response times improve.

In summary

Shared inboxes are an excellent way to give your entire team access to business-critical information, but they aren’t always simple to manage.

If you can master your inbox management with these best practices, the benefits will be felt by your own team, your clients, sales leads, and ultimately, your bottom line.

Ready to start optimizing how you use your shared inboxes?  Start timetoreply today to uncover hidden insights that are vital to improving your team’s email performance.

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