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How 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".

rules gif

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.

Keep learning

One Pager - 5 Min ReadFront’s Rules Library: A collection of 26+ workflows to discover and customize as you scale
Typically, Rules aren’t that fun to talk about; like when you weren’t allowed to have dessert until you finished your broccoli.  Rules in Front, on the other hand, aren’t about restriction at all. We like to think of them as an invitation to customize Front to bring out the best in your team.  Front’s Rules are essentially the building blocks to automate customer communication and team workflows. They’re simple “if-then” conditions that reliably automate tasks to save time and increase your team's efficiency. In the backend, they look sorta like this:  Creating team Rules makes your workflow more efficient and helps you scale by automating tasks so you can spend time on your customer interactions instead. But we don’t want you to have to start from scratch.  Introducing the Rules Library, a curated collection of popular team Rule templates you can customize and use in a matter of clicks. Discover new workflows to implement for your team, and save time writing the recipe. The Rules Library serves as a source of inspiration, highlighting 26 of our most popular Rules. Not only can you discover new Rule templates for your team, but you can activate them in a snap – making managing your team much more efficient. The library is full of templates to help: Ensure your team replies on time Route messages to the right person or team Give your team appropriate visibility  Keep your inboxes tidy Increase your team’s efficiency   Ready to find new Rule templates and scale your team’s workflow? Here’s a preview of 6 actions you can automate from a template in our new Rules Library. 1. Never miss your Service-Level Agreement (SLA) Tag un-replied messages after a specific time elapsed to surface possible breaches. For example, if a support team has a 24 hour response time turnaround, you can automatically apply a tag like “SLA warning ” to messages approaching a breach to escalate them and signal to your team to prioritize that work.  Or, automatically assign messages at risk of a beach to a specific teammate so they can tackle it right away.  2. Automatically assign messages to a teammate after applying a tag and take that task off everyone else’s plate For example, perhaps Shanice handles all communication with Disney, a VIP customer. You can automatically tag their messages with a “VIP” tag, then assign them to Shanice so it’s the first thing she’ll see in her inbox.  Or, let’s say Tommy handles all escalated support inquiries related to a specific high-end component called ‘MDJ-11’. This Rule template could automatically assign him messages anytime someone on the team applies the tag ‘MDJ-11’. This saves the team time from having to manually apply the escalation tag and then also manually assign the messages to Tommy. 3. Get a notification when extra-important messages arrive Alert teammates to messages sent from a person or address. For example, Mike is the CEO of a critical account; you can use a Notify Rule template to ping your inbox whenever Mike emails any team inbox, be it support@, finance@, or complaints@, so you can keep an eye on, or even intervene, when needed. You could also configure the Rule to notify a CSM whenever their account writes into support, so they can reach out and make the personal connection.  4. Move messages to organize your team’s work Move emails to another inbox when needing to escalate an issue. For example, if a support request tagged as ‘tier 1’ can’t be addressed by that team team, the rep could apply a ‘tier 2’ tag, triggering this Rule to automatically remove the ‘tier 1’ tag and move the message to the tier 2 support inbox for that team to address.   You can even customize it to un-assign the message in the process, and route it to someone else. This saves that rep valuable time from having to manually remove a tag and move the message. Tag it and let Front do the rest so you can move on with your work. 5. Archive messages to clear up inbox clutter Archive email that don’t demand your team’s prioritization based on content.  For example, if you want to filter out non-urgent newsletter emails, you can use an Archive Rule template to archive messages containing the word “newsletter.” Remember that in Front, your inbox is your to-do list, so archive messages that don’t require action – you can always browse through ‘em later! You could also choose to automatically archive all dropbox edit notifications, calendar confirmations, or other non-personal emails that don’t require immediate attention. 6. Reply to messages that can’t wait  Send message templates to messages with a predictable reply, like when a message is received outside of business hours. For example, Rob’s shift is from 8 am - 5 pm M-F, and he wants to highlight specific resources for different accounts while he’s out. He can use the Reply Rule template to ensure each account receives an auto-reply with their personalized resources. We also like to automatically send a message template if a message hasn’t been replied to right away. We’ll let the customer know we’re on it if they haven’t heard from us within 12 hours, and then will tag the email with an “Urgent” tag so we know to look there first.  We’ll be adding more Rules to the library regularly, so check it out regularly. If none of the Rule templates in the library work, no problem; you can always create custom Rules leveraging ‘if-then’ conditions.  Head on over to the Rules Library now to explore the templates and get inspiration for your next game-changing workflow. Here’s to more time spent on what matters – we’ll take care of the rest.
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