These days, there's an app for everything. Between social media sites, email providers, live chat, and more, there are literally thousands of ways your customers can reach your business. You might just go dizzy from the sheer number of options they have for communication.

As a company, you'll want to connect with your customers on all the platforms they're using. After all, each channel presents an opportunity for you to strengthen customer relations -- especially if customers are sharing negative reviews.

However, it's difficult to consistently keep tabs on all these platforms at once. It's easy for posts, mentions, shares, and likes to fly under the radar when your team is trying to monitor over a dozen different channels. You need an inbox to combine this information into one, shared location. That way, your service team can quickly locate customer inquiries regardless of the channel they're coming from.

In this post, let's break down what a shared inbox is and how you can use it to manage all of your customer communications in one app. Then, we'll list some of the top shared inboxes you can adopt for your service team.

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What Is a Shared Inbox?

A shared, or universal, inbox is a messaging inbox that combines several email accounts into one. This feature helps companies organize incoming service requests into one platform that's accessible by the entire team. Rather than bouncing between interfaces, reps can access all of their customer inquiries through one, cohesive view.

Shared inboxes often support social media accounts as well. So, if a customer posts on your timeline or tweets about your business, that message will be tagged and forwarded to your inbox. Designated reps will be alerted of the post and can reach back out through the same thread. They won't even have to log into your social media account letting them respond to your customers in a moment's notice.

But, those aren't the only benefits of adopting a shared inbox. In the section, take a look at these key advantages that a shared inbox provides to your service team.

What Is the Advantage of Having Only One Inbox?

1. Respond to all your customer emails from one source.

It can be frustrating trying to delegate customer requests to the appropriate employee. Without a shared inbox, you'll need to manually forward the email to the rep or alert them that a customer has reached out. By sharing an inbox, everyone has access to incoming requests so the appropriate person will be notified and can respond right away.

2. Share customer interactions with your entire team.

With a shared inbox, all of your online customer interactions will exist in a single platform that's accessible to every employee. You can then efficiently collaborate on conversations with other agents, all from the same inbox. This encourages teamwork and improves internal communication at your business.

3. Organize customer conversations.

If you have multiple customers emailing different reps about the same problem, you'll start to get confused, miss emails, and become repetitive in your responses. Instead, if all customer conversations arrive in a central location, it's much easier for employees to track past conversations and save time when troubleshooting.

If you're operating a small- to medium-sized business, you may not support a wide variety of communication channels. However, a shared inbox is still a smart investment as your company and your customer base grows. When customer demand finally spikes, you'll be happy you have the tools in place to manage it.

Before we talk about some of the popular shared inbox tools available, let's talk about one that you may already work with at your company. In fact, most people don't realize that Outlook supports a shared inbox feature that can combine multiple accounts under one folder.

In the next section, we'll explain how you can create a basic shared inbox using an Outlook account.

Outlook Combined Inbox

Unfortunately, Outlook doesn't outright offer a feature for a combined inbox, which can be a major roadblock for businesses. However, it's relatively simple to create a custom unified inbox using the following steps:

1. Open the Outlook desktop app.

2. Click the "Folder" tab.

3. Click "New Search Folder."

4. Click "Create a custom Search Folder."

5. Under "Customize Search Folder," click "Choose."

6. Type a name for your unified inbox here, such as "All Mail" or "Shared Inbox."

7. Click "Browse."

8. Click all the folders you'd like to include in your shared inbox, then click "Search subfolders."

9. Click "OK," then confirm by clicking "Yes" in the pop-up box.

10. Click "OK" to see your new shared inbox.

This inbox will filter email into specific folders based on the rules you create. While this is a great free option, it does require you to manually program the inbox to distribute emails to the proper location. Additionally, there's no direct feature for integrating social media or live chat apps, unless you create a customized filter.

If you're looking for a more automated setup process, take a look at the section below for a list of the most popular shared inbox apps.

6 Multiple Email Account Apps

1. HubSpot

HubSpot's Conversations tool has a universal inbox that supports communication across different messaging channels and teams. You can access live chat, bot conversations, and team emails all in one place. It also lets you automatically assign emails and distribute tasks evenly between employees.

Additionally, Service Hub's templates, canned responses, and informational attachments will help your team respond to emails faster. The knowledge base tool creates helpful support articles that can be quickly forwarded to customers who have simple or common problems. Overall, this product will help you maintain personalized conversations, even as you scale.

Price: Free

2. Mailbird

Mailbird gives you the opportunity to sync all your email accounts -- and their contacts -- into a unified inbox. This makes it effortless to organize customer conversations into one, shared view.

You can also integrate the product with other apps, like Facebook, Twitter, Google Calendar, Asana, and more for a completely omni-channel experience. Other features include customizable layouts, easy LinkedIn lookups, and message snoozing, which cater to your team's daily needs.

Price: $3/month

3. ClientFlow

ClientFlow makes it easier to collaborate and connect both internally and externally with customers. You can easily assign conversations to team members, write comments, track the status of emails, and more. This all-in-one tool will increase productivity in a simple, efficient way.

Price: $19/month

4. Spark

Spark gives you the freedom to collaborate with your team by sharing drafts and emails with each other. You can easily delegate tasks, set deadlines, track agents' progress, and be notified when tasks are completed. Real-time editors and side chats help colleagues craft emails together and answer each others' questions while working. And, it's pre-written templates can help you answer frequently-asked questions much faster.

Price: Free

5. Front

Front helps you manage hundreds of emails in one platform. It also goes beyond email, giving you the ability to respond to live chat, texts, Facebook and Twitter messages, all at once. You can improve your scheduling process by sharing an integrated calendar with your team and adding meeting times on the app. Integrate with CRM and 50+ other apps for an all-inclusive product.

Price: $9/month

6. Hiver

Hiver focuses specifically on shared inboxes within Gmail. You can easily delegate tasks and track progress on your unified Gmail inboxes. On the app, you can track metrics to gain meaningful insights into your team's productivity. Internal conversations will work email-free, so you can comment, chat, and share notes through the app.

Price: $14/month

If these options aren't right for you, take a look at this list for more shared inbox tools

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Originally published Jul 22, 2019 8:00:00 AM, updated July 22 2019