If you are looking to learn more about shared inbox tools and find the right one for your team, this guide is for you. From the background of how shared inboxes were created to a list of top shared inbox tools, you will find everything you need to know in this guide.
Shared Inbox Guide Contents
Here’s what you need to know about Shared Inboxes.
– What is a shared inbox
– A brief story of shared inboxes
– Shared Inbox vs. traditional email
– Shared Inboxes vs workflow management tools
– Use cases of shared inboxes
– The best shared inbox tools:
- For Google Workspace users
- Best multi-channel shared inboxes
- For Customer Support
- For shared inbox for large enterprises
What is a Shared Inbox?
Shared inbox is a business tool that helps teams work collaboratively on incoming messages, without needing to share an inbox account. From their individual accounts, team members can access and work on incoming messages, including assigning, replying or changing status. Most shared inboxes also offer other collaborative features such as internal notes or shared drafts.
A brief story of shared inboxes
Shared inboxes gained visibility in the last decade and represent a whole new class of collaborative tools for digital work. This is how they became the tools we know today.
Early email days
When email was created in the 1970’s, emails were just straight to the point. Messages had a sender and a receiver. That’s it. You could, of course, add more people in the conversation by CC’ing or BCC’ing, but in the system logic, these were just many conversations between two people. That’s because, fundamentally, email was originally created for individual use.
‘Improvised’ shared inboxes
As work started migrating to the online world more and more, the increasing need for better collaboration tools was natural. Including email. For example, in 2001, Google launched Google Groups to allow users to easily reach a number of email addresses without needing to replicate them individually as email receivers.
However, tools like that were created for “1-to-many” type of communication. There wasn’t an easy way to manage a general inbox, such as [email protected], collaboratively. And if you need many people to access the same incoming emails, what do you do? Yes, you share the password of that account with the entire team. And that was a big step for email collaboration.
However, this method was full of flaws that we will discuss in the next session.
Dedicated shared inbox software
A number of dedicated shared inbox software started appearing in the market in early 2010’s. These tools allow teams to share and collaborate in inboxes without needing to share an account. Some of these tools go even beyond email, including other channels such as SMS, social media, etc. Shared inboxes are truly in the new class of collaboration tools and solutions today’s digital teams need.
Shared Inbox vs. traditional email
Some managers and business owners still ask themselves: why not just have a common email account everyone in the company has access to? Well, while this can be helpful short-term, it’s not a good growth mentality for your company.
When your task list gets bigger you can also find yourself needing a little more organization in your day-to-day business life. So when you have to find a way to organize your email, you might try to set up an account for our employees and give them access whenever needed. However this technique does not scale well.
1. Privacy issues
Shared email accounts can create security and privacy concerns. With multiple people accessing the same account, there is an increased risk of unauthorized access or misuse of the account. This can be especially concerning if the shared account contains sensitive information or if team members have different levels of access to the account.
2. Unsafe browsing
First, of course, there is a security problem: when you are logged into many devices at once, not only it makes your account a target easier to spot, but you can also be a victim of a breach from multiple sources.
If an employee loses their device or gets hacked, your sensitive business information might find itself in the hands of a stranger, which is far from ideal.
3. Lack of Accountability
Part of the issue with business external communication is that important points might get lost in email threads or worse, tasks being skipped or two people accidentally overstepping each other. That is a relatively common worry among teams, because, when it happens, it can cause big harm to the company such as unhappy customers or lost deals.
Say, for instance, one person opens a support inbox to find a client complaint. They will immediately talk to their supervisor and organize a solution, to be proactive, right? But what happens when another team member finds that same email a few hours later, adds it to their to-do list on a personal notepad and then figures out a solution and takes other proactive steps?
This creates a bad scenario because even if the intentions were good and everyone is dedicated to their job, it makes it seem like your company isn’t well organized. The same can happen, of course, when dealing with suppliers or even fellow colleagues.
4. Platform limitations
Of course, we can’t forget about platform limitations. Email apps usually have a set amount of devices that can be logged in at the same time without being flagged. This happens because the account is trying to protect itself from potential breaches, especially if people are accessing it from different geotags.
Shared Inboxes vs workflow management tools
Because email wasn’t originally built for teams, other workflow management tools started appearing in the market. They are specialists in a certain use case, such as customer support, recruiting or sales. It became very common for companies to spread their workflows across a number of different applications, many times unnecessarily. Here’s a comparison of using shared inboxes vs specialist tools.
1. Unbalanced workload
If you have to log out of your work email and log into the department account, you need to do all the delegating and task management before forwarding it to your colleagues. If everyone has equal access to the inbox, tasks can be better shared and managed, which cuts down on time and makes the workload better distributed.
2. Context switching
Context switching is another contemporary issue which makes professionals waste a lot of time. This causes unnecessary duplication of information and an enormous waste of time.
If you need to check 3 other applications and consult 2 people in your office to be able to reply to 1 email, you are definitely not making best use of your time. Shared Inboxes allow teams to manage multiple workflows from a single place, in a consistent way.
3. Low efficiency
Another issue with managing multiple platforms is efficiency. Every ticket in a Customer Support tool, or every lead in a Sales CRM tool started as an email in your inbox. But then these emails need to be converted into a ticket or an opportunity when you receive these emails, and then converted back to emails in the recipient’s inboxes when you reply to them.
In a shared inbox, on the other hand, means that an email stays as an email, from start to end. Not to mention, it’s much faster to respond to emails when they’re right there on your shared mailbox.
Shared Inbox use cases
There are a number of use cases for shared inboxes. Here are just a few examples of the most common ones.
- Customer Support (eg. [email protected]): work on tickets directly from your inbox and use analytics to keep track of response time and other metrics.
- Sales CRM (eg. [email protected]): manage leads and opportunities that could be coming from a form filled on your website or direct email request.
- Recruiting (eg. [email protected]): receive CV applications and manage different recruiting pipelines.
- Operations ([email protected]): coordinate fulfillment from form requests or direct emails coming from inside or outside the organization.
- Finance ([email protected]): receive invoices and work on accounts payable.
- Virtual assistant ([email protected]): delegate an entire inbox or specific emails to a virtual assistant.
The best Shared Inbox tools
Looking for a good solution for a mailbox app that will make your life as a business owner easier. There are different types of shared inbox tools and below we have segmented them to help you find the best tool for your team.
Best Shared Inboxes for Google Workspace users
These are shared inboxes built exclusively for Google Workspace users. They seamlessly integrate with Gmail and other Google Workspace apps, offering a smooth transition for those used to Google apps interfaces.
Our tool, Drag, is the perfect tool for small and medium sized businesses to simplify their work.
It’s a Gmail Shared Inbox that brings all of your workspace right into the place teams spend their time. This means everything from tickets, leads, tasks, chats, calendars or file management is easily accessible without ever leaving a tab. It also means you can keep track of team work without adding new learning curves. Since it’s a Gmail add-on, it’s pretty native for Gmail users to get the hang of it.
Drag runs round shared ‘workspaces’, which can be a Shared Inbox, a Google Group or an empty space customized for your team’s needs. Our workspaces can be in a traditional list view or Kanban board view, adding an extra layer of visibility to your work. We also offer a mobile app so that teams can get things done on the go.
G2 Reviews: 4.4 stars
Keeping is another Chrome Extension offering shared inboxes inside Gmail. It is a convenient option for Google Workspace users because it doesn’t add another tool to teams’ workflows. It allows teams to manage team inboxes such as [email protected] or [email protected] without ever leaving Gmail.
Another advantage of Keeping is a free and hassle-free set up process. It offers a 14-day free trial and the sign up process doesn’t require credit card details. A great solution for small teams looking to simplify their workflows.
G2 Reviews: 4.4 stars
Best multi-channel shared inboxes
These shared inboxes provide their own application and go beyond email. Users can also plug other channels such as Facebook Messenger, Twitter Inbox or WhatsApp to these shared inboxes. If you need multiple channels, these are the best shared inboxes to go for.
Front defines themselves as a communication hub that strengthens customer relationships. Available as a Web App or Desktop App for Mac and PC, they connect email, SMS, social media, WhatsApp and other channels inside their tool.
A differentiator of Front is the amount of integrations it provides. Their marketplace contains over 90 integrations, making it a highly customizable option for teams that work across multiple applications.
G2 Reviews: 4.7 stars
Missive is another option for teams looking for multi-channel shared inboxes. According to their website, they “redesigned the inbox with a business-first collaborative experience in mind”. Missive integrates email, SMS, social media and WhatsApp into a single tool.
They also have bonus tools compared to other shared inboxes, such as calendar scheduling or pre-written answers (very useful for client support teams). They are also very customizable with a large number of system preferences, including theme customizer and more.
Like Front, they can be used as a Web App or Desktop App.
G2 Reviews: 4.8 stars
Best shared inboxes for Customer Support
Some shared inboxes are specialized in Customer Support. They usually offer specific features for customer support teams such as SLA’s or customer rating. Below are our top shared inboxes focused on Customer Support.
Traditionally a Customer Service software, Freshdesk has also built their own shared inbox, and it’s naturally focused on Customer Service. Features specifically focused on Customer Service include NPS surveys and or a customizable Knowledge Base, for example.
A big advantage of Freshdesk is that they offer a broader range of tools in their suite. For example, besides a shared inbox, you can purchase a chat bot or a call center management tool with Freshdesk. They also offer a broad range of integrations.
G2 Reviews: 4.4 stars
Groove is another shared inbox focused on Customer Service. It is available as a Web App and offers a longer free trial than most shared inbox tools (30-day long). Besides the Shared Inbox itself, their product suite includes a live chat and knowledge base focused on Customer Support.
Their reporting feature is very comprehensive for Customer Support teams, including metrics such as CSAT scores or time to resolution. They also provide valuable knowledge base insights for Customer Support teams, such as article performance or search report.
G2 Reviews: 4.5 stars
3. Help Scout
Help Scout is our last recommendation of a shared inbox focused on Customer Support. Similarly to Groove, they also offer a live chat and knowledge base focused on Customer Support, on top of the shared inbox.
Their other features include CSAT rating, collision detection, cross-channel notifications and 2-factor authentication for extra security. According to their website, their customers reply to emails 52% faster on average.
G2 Reviews: 4.4 stars
Best shared inboxes for large enterprises
If you work in a large organization that requires more customizable workflows, this is the best shared inbox for you.
The giant Inbound Marketing software Hubspot has also added a shared inbox in their offerings. Branded as “Hubspot conversations”, their shared inbox includes email, Facebook Messenger, live chat and chatbot.
With a special focus on marketing and sales, their chatbot includes features such as meeting scheduling or lead scoring. From the shared inbox, users can also set up routing rules or create email templates. They also allow users to reply to conversations directly from Slack.