One Pager - 4 Min Read

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

Guide - 6 Min ReadSet up a team inbox
Front’s team inboxes are shared inboxes that integrate multiple channels and allow new possibilities for automation and collaboration. Here’s an example: Your sales team is trying to manage an influx of emails from prospects, existing customers, and new leads from your company website. You use different apps to get the job done: like Slack to collaborate, Salesforce to close deals, and Gmail to decide which messages should take priority. Now, you find yourself switching back and forth between all these applications just to support your customers - all while teaching new sales reps the ropes. Once you download Front, things get much more seamless. All messages and requests enter into one team inbox that your whole Sales org has access to. With rules and tags, messages are prioritized and categorized. Your demo requests are tagged by keyword, enterprise prospects are tagged as urgent, and clients with a long history of working with a specific AE are automatically assigned to that person. Though all the messages are seen in the team inbox, they are immediately filtered to encourage prioritization while encouraging transparency and accountability. New reps can keep track of how vets are handling messages, you can assign all messages to the right person, and teammates can @mention each other on emails to comment and discuss what should happen next. Suddenly, inbox zero is the new norm, and all prospects are dealt with in a personal, fast, and thorough manner.  Team inboxes dramatically simplify the way you work. But like all change, it can take some getting used to. Here are some best practices to help you make the transition painless. They’ll help you set up your team inbox, start working efficiently right away, and start measure your team’s performance. Want to know more about team inboxes before you get started? Check out our guide on how your team can find value in a team inbox.  #Setup Set up your team inbox Admins can set up a team inbox in five easy steps.  Click your profile picture in the upper left corner of Front. Select Settings, then click My inboxes. Select Add a team inbox. You can choose to connect a channel, or leave it as an empty inbox. Give your inbox a name and click Next. Select the teammates you want to add to the team inbox, and click Create inbox. You may want some help creating canned responses or tags, so now is a good time to set permissions and give certain teammates admin access to the team inbox. You can set up default permissions and make everyone either an Admin or Member, or customize permissions to control exactly who can edit what.  Once you’re done, the team inbox will automatically show up in the team workspace on the left panel of Front. Then, you can start adding some simple but highly effective automation and organization techniques like tags, rules, and signatures.  #Work together Work as a team Shared inboxes function a little differently here, so it’s helpful to establish some processes for your team. Here are some team inbox tricks that nearly all teams use to give their workflow a much needed boost: Assign owners to emails Give each email a clear owner to help your team prioritize their day, and to help your team get to inbox zero. Your team can start by going through the team inbox and assigning messages they can handle to themselves.  Archive wisely When a message is archived in a team inbox, it’s archived for everyone (besides the assignee or whoever is subscribed to it). Encourage your teammates to only archive if they’re confident the team is done with a conversation. If you ever need to find something that has been archived, simply click into the ‘Archived’ tab or use the search filter “is:archived.” Organize & prioritize with tags You and your team can create tags (similar to folders) to sort incoming messages. You can automate this process with rules (for instance, route all emails from an important client to a VIP tag) or move them manually. We like to create tags for different projects, clients, and priority levels.  Manage time zones, shifts, and out-of-office through preferences  Team inboxes are great for teams who are working remotely or across different time zones. You can set shifts and working hours in your preferences so that when one person heads home for the evening, another person can pick up where they left off. And, when someone goes OOO (out-of-office), you can make sure all messages that would typically show up in the vacationer’s inbox pop up in the team inbox instead. That way, you’re never worried about emails getting trapped in an inbox with no answer.  Trust in the team inbox Need an update on a project or customer? Let your team inbox be your source of truth. Teammates can look to the various tags and messages to get the context they need before interrupting the team. #Enrich your workflow Add the bells and whistles The magic in team inboxes lies in the automation that you can customize, the seamless workflow you can create for your team, and the personal experience you can create for customers.  Use canned responses for quick replies Do you find your team is writing certain common responses all the time? Save them as canned responses so you can easily reuse them. Canned responses help you send consistent responses faster and focus your attention on personalizing the email.  Save time spent on mindless tasks with rules Automatically route emails by keywords, sender, or other triggers to get messages in front of the right eyes immediately. You can create a variety of rules that help you save time doing administrative work on your inbox.  Reach response time goals with SLAs Create an SLA to make sure your customers are receiving the fastest, most thorough service. Help keep your team on track by sending emails that are at risk of an SLA breach to an “Urgent” tag.  Sign off with team signatures Save several signatures so your team can sign off appropriately depending on the client you’re communicating with. This helps keep correspondence professional while allowing for brand flair and personalization. You can also use team signatures to personalize a correspondence from a teammate by having the display name and signature show a teammate’s name even though they’re sending from a team address. Access all your other apps from your team inbox You can connect your team’s favorite tools and apps to Front through the integration panel. This means your team can reference Salesforce or create a Jira ticket right from the team inbox. There are dozens of integrations, and more are being added all the time! #Track success Set goals and measure success  Front Analytics make it easy to measure how your team is performing and identify ways to improve or have your team inbox work harder for you. Keeping an eye on the metrics of success for your team inbox helps you continuously improve customer experience and build motivation for your team.  Individual performance Get a glance at the workload of a specific teammate and understand how they’re handling it by viewing metrics like response time, replies to resolve, and conversations handled. Team performance Help your team feel more engaged and united by sharing success metrics and patterns with them. Tracking team-wide messaging metrics allows for accurate, exciting goal setting and helps you know when it’s time for a morale boost or additional headcount.  Customer insights Build a more personal, in-depth understanding of each customer’s needs by viewing what kind of workload they require and the amount of times they write in so you can set them up with the right team member. 
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Customer Story - 3 Min ReadHow MNX uses Front to manage high email volume
MNX Global is a premium logistics provider that provides customized, expedited transport for the biopharmaceutical, life sciences, medical device, aviation, and entertainment industries in more than 190 countries. With 24/7 client service spread across multiple continents, they use Front to manage high email volume and stay on top of response time goals.  Originally, they used Outlook to manage high email volume. According to Director of Aviation Services Douglas Kurtz, Outlook couldn’t quickly triage or assign emails, or provide them will visibility into the audit trail of a message or success metrics. They switched to Front so that could collaborate effectively and work more efficiently.  They've used Front’s automated Rules and SLAs to help their team reply faster to customers, and they rely heavily on Analytics to give them insights to make more informed decisions. All this automation enables them to be more productive and stay on top of demand. Automate message routing with Rules that will triage, categorize and assign messages for you. When there’s high email volume, there’s no time to comb through the messages manually and give them an owner or categorize them – that’s where rules come in . SLAs make it easy to reach response time goals by escalating messages  – with a direct assignment, ‘Breach warning’ tag, or even sending them to an ‘Urgent’ Slack channel – that are close to a breach. Analytics turn insights into improvements to help teams understand how their team is performing, their customer needs, and busiest hours, among other things. By paying attention to these insights, teams can know when to hire, who needs more support, and how to improve customer experience. “We have the data to say, ‘Okay, Sunday will be 1/4th of the volume of a weekday,’ so we can staff appropriately,” Douglas Kurtz, Director of Aviation Services, MNX Rules and SLAs have helped MNX ensure every time-critical message gets into the right hands so they can reply quickly, while analytics has helped them track business-critical metrics, set team benchmarks, and make informed decisions for the future. 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 & SLA → Add 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. 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. SLAs Front’s SLAs help teams create and achieve response time goals. You can customize your escalation path and have messages on the brink of a breach prioritized: Tag it to alert your team Set up custom notifications Reassign to another teammate Move to an urgent inbox Then, view your SLA report to view analytics on how your team is tracking towards their goals. You can even share your SLA report with your team or customers to showcase how amazing your team is doing.  Analytics MNX uses their Analytics tab to get insights into employee performance, customer needs, and more so they can constantly be improving their workflow.  They’re able to anticipate when it’s time to hire by evaluating when their team is overwhelmed, see who’s equipped to handle the largest deals, and anticipate their busiest hours. 
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One Pager - 4 Min ReadRespond faster, 24/7: Five ways to optimize shifts in Front
Sometimes, customer support can feel like a game of telephone. When shifts change and issues pass to new teammates, key information is lost along the way — or even worse, conversations get stuck with teammates who aren’t online to handle them. Your team feels like they’re missing messages, and your customers are left hanging. Front’s new Shifts solution connects your team’s schedule with your support workflow, so it’s easy for teams working in multiple shifts to deliver a smooth customer experience. Conversations only go to teammates available to handle them, and you can distribute workloads evenly to optimize your entire team’s bandwidth. It’s easy to schedule across multiple timezones, so coordinating a global team has never been simpler. The end result? Your customers get the fastest response possible — 24/7. 🗓 Never let a message slip through the cracks (in your schedule) Most of the time, keeping track of who’s on what shift is easy to forget. Conversations are assigned to off-duty teammates by mistake, which leaves customers with urgent issues waiting too long for a response. With Shifts, it’s quick and easy to set up your team’s schedule, and Front takes care of the rest to help you minimize wait times for your customers. Assignment rules skip off-duty teammates automatically, so conversations won’t sit in their queues and put your response time service levels at risk. 📈 Measure performance with greater precision Especially when your team is distributed across multiple regions, getting a clear picture of response time performance can be a challenge. These insights are key to improving your team’s efficiency over time, so attention to detail matters. Setting specific shift hours for each teammate makes Front analytics more accurate, so you can reliably spot opportunities for improvement. Each teammate is measured against the specific hours they work in their local timezone, rather than a single set of business hours, for more precise metrics. ⚡ ️Optimize response time with load balancing Shifts works with Front rules to get conversations into the right hands based on specific skills, clients, or other criteria. Together, they enable your team to consistently conquer the queue, even on your busiest days. Now, load balancing rules make it easier than ever to manage high volume. With load balancing, conversations are assigned to the teammate with the most bandwidth to handle them (and are held in a queue if no one is ready). Custom conversation limits ensure messages always go to the person who can respond fastest, even if some agents are still in training. 🚀 Help new teammates ramp up faster Shifts and load balancing help you keep your support workflows up to date with your growing team. It’s simple to add new teammates to Shifts when they come on board, and if you manage team scheduling in another tool, Shifts can be updated through the Front API for smart scheduling behind-the-scenes. You can also set lower load balancing limits for new teammates to ensure their workload stays manageable, so your customers won’t suffer if they take longer to respond per conversation. As they get up to speed, you can increase their limit to match your more experienced agents. 🌍 Set up teams in other timezones for success Shifts and rules work together to make sure conversations are only assigned when a given teammate’s business hours start. It’s less overwhelming for your team — and a better experience for your customers. Instead of coming into find a queue of assigned messages from customers who have been waiting for hours for a response, your team can start fresh when their shift begins. You can even set when assignments should stop before a shift ends to make sure your team has enough time to wrap up before they go offline. ✨ Coming soon in Front Together, Shifts and load balancing empower your team to stay on top of their work and respond to customers as quickly as possible. With accurate reporting to share with internal teams and customers, you can make informed decisions to keep giving better service. Activate the Shifts add-on on your Front plan for $10/user in the coming weeks. Load balancing, as part of Front’s advanced rules, will be available to all customers on Pro plans. Keep an eye out for when these features are live in the app, and get in touch to see them in action!
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