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Customer Story - 4 Min Read

Front’s automation features save each Instructure employee 10 hours a week

INDUSTRY
Technology
TEAM
Success, Account Management
BUSINESS SIZE
1500+
Front Integrations Used

Learn how a leading Saas company has used rules, tags, and assignments to improve their workflow, scale personal customer communication, and ultimately save each employee 10 hours a week with Front’s automation features. 

Instructure is an educational software company that makes teaching and learning easy. They rely heavily on the personal support their customer success team provides. As they grow, they’ve been able to keep communication personal using Front’s ability to automate triaging, routing, and managing their messages. You may be asking – how can my customer success team do the same? 

They’ve used 3 key features in Front to improve customer communication and build strong, more personal relationships with clients as they grow without turning to a helpdesk solution that sacrifices high-touch communication.

Rules have helped them automate their entire workflow. They now save time on triaging messages, escalating urgent ones, and categorizing their communication. 

Assignments allow incoming messages from clients to be assigned directly to the specific CSM overseeing the account

Commenting has streamlined teamwork on customer messages. Head of Customer Success at Instructure, Patrick, says “We’re not having to forward and have multiple copies of every email. There’s one thread, and all the comments and information you need are on it.” The more seasoned team members can add their comments to assist the rest of the team.

“We can route messages to the right person internally without extra work, so customers get a smoother experience,” - Patrick, Head of Customer Success at Instructure 

Rules, assignments, and commenting are now the backbone of their workflow. By automating the routing process, each person gets on average 10 hours a week back to personalize their communication. Freeing up time to X, Y, Z  has helped Instructure grow and sustain close, engaged relationships with their clients, and ultimately improve their customers’ experience.  Curious how to do it yourself? Check out the inspiration below. 

Do it yourself

Rules

Automatically assign or move emails based on message content. For example, if your teammate, Sarah, responds to all billing questions, create a rule to assign any message containing "billing" to Sarah.

Step 1
Go to Settings by clicking on your avatar in the top left → Rules & SLAAdd team rule
Step 2
Set the When trigger to Inbound messages.
Step 3
Set the If condition to:

  • Inbox is the team inbox this rule should apply (e.g. Support inbox), AND

  • Subject contains and Body contains to the word of your choice (e.g. billing). Ensure these are connected by an OR condition.

rule image 4

Step 4
Set the Then action to either of the below:

  • Assign to teammate action to assign it to one specific person. Alternatively, you can also Assign in group to distribute the emails amongst several teammates (an advanced rule condition).

  • Move to inbox action to move it to a different inbox.

Tip: Click Add action and add a tagging action. This will help with general organization and future analytics reports.

rule image 5

Tags

Here are some tags that teams like Instructure find helpful:

  • Renewals so that your team immediately sees messages with this tag as an opportunity, and employees who specialize in renewals can act fast

  • Feedback so that your team can dedicate some time regularly to review client comments on what is and isn’t going well, and you can see how it changes overtime

  • Urgent so that any message that contains keywords that express urgency – like “right away” or “ASAP” – can be tended to first

  • VIP so that Enterprise customers or large opportunities never slip through the cracks

Because Front offers a multichannel team inbox, it’s also very helpful to have tags that organize communication by platform, like the following:

  • SMS messages

  • Tweets

  • Facebook messages

By creating rules that tag messages based on content – like a keyword “renew” – it’s easy to categorize and prioritize work. To automate messaging and save time like Instructure did, you can follow the same rule creation steps above, but choose to add a tag as the last step:

rule image 2

Comments

Commenting is an easy way to loop in teammates, flag a message, or phone a friend for help. Just at-mention someone’s name and they’ll have access to your full conversation. Still need support? Share a draft with them as you work on your response. 

mention gif

Another way to collaborate in Front is to start an internal discussion. This is a casual, yet still advanced, way ot chatting with coworkers. Write to one person, a few, or an entire team inbox so that you don’t have to leave Front and context switch, or lose track of important topics, as you chat. 

Keep learning

One Pager - 4 Min ReadHow to give your inbox a brain: Using rules in Front
Our inboxes make us do the same tasks, over and over, every single day. We reply, archive, label, and delete. We mark as unread, forward, cc, enter data into CRMs, copy ideas into project management tools…the list goes on. Wouldn’t your productivity skyrocket if you didn’t have to worry about those time-consuming, repetitive tasks – if your inbox could handle them for you? Good news! Using “rules” in Front is like giving your inbox a brain, so when you go to plow through your email everyday, some of your work is already done for you. Rules come with endless possibilities for customization, and our customers use them to create amazing automations all the time. Here’s everything you need to know to start making rules (you'll be whipping through your inbox at lightspeed!) What are rules? Rules let you automate workflows you often repeat by using “if, then” statements – guidelines that tell your inbox what to do with certain messages. For instance, “if an inbound message contains "urgent support", then add the tag "Urgent". Types of rules There are three kinds of rules: team rules, individual rules, and company rules. Individual rules: only apply to messages in your individual inbox Team rules: apply to messages in shared inboxes (only Team or Company admins can make these) Company rules: apply to all messages in individual and shared inboxes (can only be created by company admins) Above is a company rule, so it apples to individual and shared inboxes. How to make a rule 1 - Select what type of message you’d like to apply the rule to – an inbound message to your support inbox, for instance. 2 - Add specific conditions – maybe when the message is from your VIP client, in the middle of the night. 3 - Set the outcome you want for it – say, the message automatically gets “assigned” in Front to your night-shift support agent. 4 - Voilà! Your inbox is now on autopilot. Our most popular ways to use rules Read on to discover some of our favorite ways to use rules, then browse our Front Rules Directory for more examples that can boost your team’s productivity. 1. Route messages Move messages exactly where you want them, as soon as you receive them. These rules help divvy up messages from group aliases evenly among team members, so everyone knows exactly what they’re in charge of. When to use it Distribute new leads in a round-robin to members of your sales team. Assign all support messages containing “refund” to your agent who handles refunding. 2. Auto-reply Send a custom canned response to a message based on its body text, subject, sender, or time of day. When to use it Send a “We’ll get back to you soon” to any message that’s received from 9pm to 6am in your Support inbox. Give a “thanks for applying” note to any message tagged as “Job Application.” 3. Organize & categorize Automatically add “tags” to incoming messages so your inbox always stays neat and tidy. You can also make rules to trigger actions to those tagged messages. When to use it Instantly tag anything that’s from a @smith.com address as Urgent Support. Automatically assign anything tagged as “Recruiting” to your recruiting coordinator. 4. Notify teammates Make sure the right parties know about certain messages, every single time, without having to forward them the message. Teammates will get notifications in Front, as if you @mentioned them on the message yourself. When to use it Loop in your boss every time you get an email from a VIP client. Give a heads up to the sales team when someone sends a message requesting a demo. 5. Set timers Create time-based rules to send emails when it works best for you, and set time limits and follow-up reminders to make sure every message gets a prompt response. When to use it “Unassign” any messages your team receives between 3 and 5am. If a message is unreplied after 2 hours, assign it to a specific teammate. 6. Auto-archive It’s like having a personal assistant who sweeps up your inbox before you open it each morning: automatically archive messages based on specific qualifications, so you only see what you really need. When to use it Archive a Salesforce record update message. Archive retweets received from Twitter. 7. Integrate with other tools Rules even help for parts of your workflow outside your inbox. Set rules to send information to some of your other apps – like Salesforce, Hipchat, or Slack. When to use it Automatically create a new opportunity in Salesforce when you receive a message from a potential lead. Send your support team a Slack message when you get emails that contain the words “help” and “credit card.” With rules, you can make your team more productive, clear out your inbox, and let technology do a little work for you. ➡️ See how to set up rules like these in the Rules Directory. ➡️ Learn more about using rules on our Help Center.
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One Pager - 8 Min ReadSet your team up for success with team inboxes
Picture this: You just treated yourself to a well-deserved week-long vacation. Before signing off, you closed out all your apps, made a thorough Out-Of-Office plan, and left important work in the hands of teammates you trust.  You return to a jam-packed inbox, a variety of client messages to respond to, and notifications on 10+ different pieces of software that you need to tend to. You already feel behind, and it’s not even 9 a.m. yet.  Sound familiar? These days, even if you go to an office, your job is less a physical place than the sum total of the different apps you rely on to do your work. In fact, the average employee switches between 35 job-critical apps more than 1,100 times per day. So even when you’re not coming back from an island getaway, the constant context switching, the influx of messages on different platforms with unclear owners, and the various ways internal teams communicate all combine to make it nearly impossible to create a positive customer experience. Productivity and morale take a huge hit. This current system isn’t sustainable. That’s why Front made a shared inbox that’s supercharged and designed to work for you, not against you.  What’s a team inbox?  You may be familiar with the concept of a shared inbox already. This is your “support@company.com,” an email inbox that many teammates can access to send and receive emails from the same group address. Things work a little differently with a shared inbox. We’ll walk you through it here: Regular group email: With the email we’re used to, group email means that anyone who’s a part of a distribution list or group alias gets their own copy of every email. One person can reply to an email, and unless they hit “Reply all,” no one else will see it. If someone deletes an email, everyone else can still see their copy in their inbox.Instead of one customer inquiry that should be actioned on one time, this email turns into many copies that now requires each person to read and make a decision on Group email in a shared inbox: You’re all looking at the same queue of emails. When one person replies, everyone who has access to the inbox can see it. When someone archives an email, it leaves the inbox for everyone. Front’s team inboxes crank it up a notch and improve the experience for teams. On a codebase level, it’s a completely different way of thinking about email even compared to your distribution lists and aliases. Plus, we add some bells and whistles that help your team work faster together while focusing on what matters most.  How team inboxes work in Front Front allows your team to manage shared inboxes more effectively. Multiple teammates can collaborate on replies from multiple channels — from your Twitter account, customer messaging platform, SMS, and email — and ultimately respond faster. Collaborate on email to respond lightning-fast Work off a single, shared copy of each message to coordinate quickly and get back to customers faster. Comment on emails and @mention your teammates to create notes and work together. Edit email drafts together to avoid the back-and-forth before you send Every conversation has an owner so nothing slips through the cracks Know exactly who’s working on what by assigning each conversation to an owner for follow up. Use automatic workflow rules to tag and route messages and keep your inbox organized. Use tags to prioritize and categorize incoming messages from all channels. Happy team, happy customers — no help desk required Add new channels like SMS, WhatsApp, or live chat to manage all messages in one place. No ticket numbers here! To your customers, it’s just normal email. Front stays invisible to customers but keeps your team organized behind-the-scenes. Emails arriving in a team inbox will be visible to all teammates who have access to the inbox. Only admins can give a teammate access to a team inbox. Admins can grant access to team inboxes at the time they invite a new teammate or can add existing teammates at any time.  The read-vs.-unread status of conversations is individual to each teammate and does not impact others’ read status. However, if one teammate replies to and archives an email in a team inbox, the email is archived for all teammates. That way, work is never duplicated. What you can do with team inboxes in Front The team inbox fixes a lot of problems we encounter at work today: lots of context switching between apps, many people handling messages from a variety of channels, and real-time collaboration.  Many communication channels: Front’s team inboxes are not just for email — teams can manage other messages like SMS texts, Tweets, live chats, phone logs, social media, and more in team inboxes. Built-in accountability: You can assign an owner to every conversation so that it's clear to everyone who's handling what. You can also drag conversations to different team tags to help prioritize and organize work for your team.  Easy collaboration: You can comment @angela, can you help with this contract? on an email, instead of forwarding or CC’ing a teammate. You can also share email drafts with teammates, so you can edit together before sending to customers. Integrations: Your team inbox connects with other apps like CRMs, project management tools, knowledge bases, and more, so you can access that information directly in your inbox. Automate little tasks you repeat often: Got an email that your teammate, Phyllis, can handle? Use keywords, sender, or other triggers to automatically route emails from the team inbox to her so it's out of everyone else's way.  For best practices on using team inboxes, as well as to learn how to set your team up for success, check out our guide on setting up a team inbox.  What’s in it for your team? Because traditional email like Gmail or Outlook ironically gets in the way of communication, teams often feel some immediate relief with team inboxes. Here are some ways that our internal teams get the most out of the automation in team inboxes while still keeping the customer experience personal: Support teams improve customer experience Use message templates to quickly resolve and respond to support-like questions.  Prioritize incoming messages to the right person with rules, SLAs, and assigning. You can even add shifts so that response time goals are still met when different people are working different hours.  Escalate bugs and technical issues to the right place immediately with tags and rules that identify keywords in messages and get them in front of the right eyes. Integrate Front with your knowledge base, so articles and FAQs are easily accessible directly from Front. Use Front Analytics to improve response and resolution times and see what kind of requests are most common. Success and account management teams build loyal, positive client relationships Route client messages to the right owner automatically with triggers like keyword, sender, subject, and more.  Integrate your CRM or custom database so you can reference a customer’s history and journey directly from your inbox. Schedule a time for an email to pop back up in your inbox if it hasn’t been replied to so you don’t have to worry about remembering on your own even months later. Use Front Analytics to see which customers require the most care and better distribute workload among your team. Automatically move customer emails to a shared inbox when you’re away or OOO, so you get peace of mind and your team can easily jump in and reply. Sales teams reach their goals  Automatically and evenly distribute emails coming into your sales team inbox among your reps to balance workload. Integrate your CRM so you can reference and update Salesforce opportunities directly in your inbox. Create an SLA rule so that you wow your prospects with reliably quick response times Comment on an email to collaborate in realtime with other AEs or a manager when you have a question on a deal or want a hand in closing it Connect your calendar so you can easily schedule meetings, check calendar openings, and let prospects book time slots with you in a few clicks Is this just like… email merged with a help desk? That’s a great framework to set your expectations, but Front is actually fundamentally different — and a whole lot more. Here’s the thing: Email was originally built for one-to-one communication, and it carries a stigma of being somewhat dated and inefficient.  On the other hand, help desks can be pretty clunky and often impersonal.  Team inboxes take the best of both worlds and add some original new features that crank your workflow up quite a few notches. They’re designed for teams to make greater impact: Team inboxes are easy to implement and natural for your team to learn. Since they use a familiar workflow that’s similar to email, there’s no steep learning curve that often comes with new software. Because Front feels similarly to Gmail or Outlook, onboarding is relatively intuitive.  Team inboxes allow for a more personal customer experience. Traditional help desk tools attach ticket numbers to every message. While this is great for organization, it makes the customer feel like just a drop in a vast ocean of tickets. When your team uses Front, the customer will never know the difference. It’s just regular email (and a wonderful, personalized experience, of course.) Team inboxes are more flexible. Help desks typically have a more rigid process that’s standardized to support teams, so they’re more limited in the ways you can route and assign messages, especially outside your support team. You can customize team inboxes to your unique processes, and if you have complex questions that need escalation, you can easily loop in those teammates.  Front is a customer communication hub. It transforms work into impact by meaningfully connecting your teams and customers by taking away the clutter, chaos, and impersonal customer experience. So you get the automation and customization of a help desk, with the personal and familiar touch of email. 
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