Although shared mailboxes have been around for years, it’s still surprising how many businesses still fail to make use of what is a relatively easy way to improve teamwork and simultaneously deliver a better service to both customers and suppliers.
Our recent article “Shared Mailboxes – what, why and how?” has been one of our most popular, which would seem to indicate a growing interest and awareness, either for those still trying to decide whether or not to use one, or for those keen to get maximum value from the one they already have.
Bearing this in mind, the following looks at some of the best shared mailbox practices along with some simple ways CompassAir can help you improve the management of this invaluable collaboration tool.
First some background on both the benefits available from shared mailboxes as well as some shortcomings to avoid.
The benefits of shared mailboxes
• Communication is unified – there are no longer long email threads containing cc, bcc and fwd
• As most tasks start and end with an email, the address acts as a hub, where work can be centralised
• Delegation of tasks is made much easier, messages can be assigned to team members (often using some form of automation), in turn improving responsiveness which leads to better service. In addition to this, shared mailboxes will provide insights into how well an organisation is functioning. Separate email addresses make it difficult for a manager to keep track of what employees are doing. By watching a shared mailbox it’s possible to answer such questions as how quickly customer queries are answered; whether there are any consistent issues being raised that require intervention; and observing peaks and troughs in email volumes that may need to be addressed using a re-allocation of resources.
• Transparency is increased – team members can see who is working on what. Not only this, but with each team member having an overview of what is going on, it means they can often better understand how and why decisions are made. Having such an insight is likely to result in improved decision making in the future. Similarly, with everyone having the same up-to-date level of knowledge better decisions can be made. For those emails that present challenges to an organisation, the fact that team members have a channel through which they can be easily discussed (especially important in these days of remote working) means solutions can be found collectively. In the case of new recruits to a team, getting up to speed is made that much easier when there is easy access to historic communication
• When staff are unavailable, maybe through illness or vacations, it is easier for colleagues to provide cover when records of earlier interactions with customers, suppliers or other colleagues are not hidden away inside a private mailbox
• Productivity will increase, again possibly in conjunction with automation by making use of rules, integrations with other software, shared templates, common, easy access filing and the like. Not having to cc colleagues, in other words having to ensure all the relevant people have seen emails, necessary when separate email addresses are used, will lead directly to a saving of both time and money.
Some of the challenges experienced when sharing a mailbox
Just having a shared mailbox will not on its own allow you to take advantage of the many benefits available. To do so, and get maximum value at the same time, certain steps need to be taken and procedures put in place.
In order that the effect these measures have can be appreciated, the following represent some of the challenges in using a common shared mailbox. Such shortcomings can be avoided by making relatively small changes to the way your team works and by using software such as CompassAir that has been designed specifically to make the best use of shared mailboxes.
• Favourites – it’s possible that some team members will choose to respond to those emails that present the least challenge to them, leaving the more difficult ones for their colleagues;
• Workloads – without having a system to allocate and monitor tasks in place it’s possible that some team members will find themselves with a much greater workload compared to others in their team;
• Neglected emails – there can be a tendency to avoid certain emails in the hope another team member will take responsibility. The danger here is that these emails remain unanswered, getting lost in the general “noise”, and so actually have an adverse effect on relationships with third parties; and