Setting up a shared inbox for your team

In this chapter, you’ll find best practices for setting up a shared inbox for your team, tips to help your team start working efficiently in a shared inbox right away, and a list of ways you can measure your team’s performance with a shared inbox. 

Best practices for managing a shared inbox

As a leader, you can set up automation and templates in your shared inbox for your team to use. You can also connect other apps to give everyone a jump start. Follow these best practices to help your team get up and running smoothly.

These are best practices you can follow for all shared inboxes, including basic shared inboxes in Gmail and Outlook:

Build email templates

Save common responses so you can easily reuse them, send consistent responses faster, and spend more time personalizing responses. 

Save email signatures

Save several signatures so you can sign off appropriately depending on the inbox you're working from.

Create shared inbox roles & permissions

Get maximum control over your inbox by setting custom permissions for your team. For instance, keep your team’s voice and organization consistent by setting limits on who can create email templates or create folders or labels. 

Get insight into customer communications

If you need to keep consistent messaging, get an update on a client’s status, or keep tabs on conversations on VIP customers, a shared inbox allows managers to do this without having to share passwords, ask for forwarded email threads, and feel like a lurker on their team’s email.

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 shared inbox to her, so it's out of everyone else's way. 

Integrate your calendar

No more clicking around to send invites and check availability. Connect your calendar to your shared inbox so that your team can manage their schedule directly next to their email. 

If you have shared inbox software like Front, you have more robust functionality. Here are some best practices for helping your team use these to work more efficiently:

Assign tasks and emails in a shared inbox

Shared inbox software allows you to get emails into the right hands with assignments. When you know the right person to answer an email, assign it to them so it’s clear that they’re responsible.

Onboard new teammates

A shared inbox makes it much easier to teach new teammates the ropes. They can get examples from the rest of the team by browsing the inbox, and you can leave internal notes on emails to help guide them through conversations.

Connect other apps to your shared inbox

You can integrate your other critical apps into your shared inbox so you can update and reference Salesforce, make a Jira ticket, and more, directly from your email.

Track performance metrics to constantly improve

Trying to lower your response times? Got strict SLAs to adhere to? What’s your busiest day of the week? Shared inbox software like Front aggregates all your team’s messaging so you can measure real-time performance metrics, report on them to customers, and help your team hit your goals.

Manage shared inboxes across time zones

Shared inboxes are especially convenient for teams who are working remotely or are dispersed across the globe. When one time zone heads home for the evening, the next time zone can easily pick up their shift and access all the conversations that need to be answered. 

Take vacation with a shared inbox

Shared inboxes have the unique ability to alleviate vacation stress. You can delegate your messages to a teammate so they can answer while you’re out. That way you’re not worried about messages getting trapped in your inbox with no answer. 

Tips for getting your team started with a shared inbox

Things are different when you're in a group. Same goes for email! Establishing some shared inbox processes ensures your team is on the same page and feels confident when they come to work each day. Your team's processes will vary depending on which tool you use, but there are some guidelines that remain pretty consistent among shared inbox users: 

Establish ownership over emails

Make sure you understand who's supposed to answer every email. If you're using shared inbox software like Front, this is easy to do with built-in assignments.

Archive wisely

Don't close out emails that everyone might need to see or might not be finished. If you're not sure, always ask!

Check the inbox first 

If you need an update on a customer's status or to check on some project specs, first think: Can I find this information in a shared inbox somewhere? That way you avoid interrupting your team unless needed.

What communication channel should I use?

When you’re establishing processes around your shared inbox, it helps to also specify when your team should use certain communication channels. If you use internal chat like Slack or Teams, what types of messages should go there? What should stay in email? When’s a good time to schedule a meeting instead of sending an email? By laying out guidelines, everyone can be more productive. 

Read Front’s Guide to Effective Internal Communication →

Measuring team performance with a shared inbox

For customer-facing teams like sales, support, and customer success, work happens almost entirely in your inbox. As a manager, it’s hard to get insight into your team's work when you can’t see it. Shared inbox software allows team leaders to get insight into the work of each team member, and the team as a whole. 

Individual performance

Drill down into each teammate’s performance and workload with metrics like response time, replies to resolve, and conversations handled.

Team performance

Unite your team behind common goals, increase engagement, and know when it’s time to hire by tracking team-wide messaging metrics. 

Customer insights

Get insight into the workload required by each customer to assess charges and evenly assign workload. 

Teaching moments with a shared inbox

Shared inboxes allow your team to lead by example. Since your team can browse through messages in your shared inboxes, new teammates can easily get a sense of how they should be communicating. Leaders can easily share drafts and leave comments to guide junior employees through conversations and train new hires on voice, tone, and situational problems. We call these “teaching moments” — when you’re helping each other do better work just by doing good work.

Anywhere Co-founder and CEO Zach Smith said, "Front enables every moment to be a teachable moment."

Read how Anywhere uses Front →