These days, there's an app for everything. Between social media sites, email providers, live chat, and more, there are thousands of ways your customers can reach your business.
As a scaling business, you'll want to connect with your customers on the platforms they're using.
After all, each channel presents an opportunity for you to strengthen customer relations, increase brand awareness, provide delightful experiences, and more. However, it can be difficult to consistently keep tabs on all these platforms simultaneously.
The way to combat this issue is with a shared inbox where your service team can quickly locate customer inquiries regardless of the channel they're coming from.
Now you may be thinking, sounds great but...
How do I get all of my emails in one place?
In this post, we'll break down what a shared inbox is and how you can use it to manage all of your customer communications in one app. We'll also review six tools that combine your email accounts for you.
What is a shared inbox?
A shared (or universal) inbox combines several email accounts into one. It helps companies organize incoming customer requests in a single and central location to improve the support team's ability to organize requests, prioritize support, manage messages efficiently, and delight customers.
Shared inboxes often support social media accounts and bot communication as well. For example, if a customer posts on your timeline or tweets about your business, that message will be tagged and forwarded to your inbox. In this instance, designated reps may be alerted of the post so they can reach back out via the same thread.
What is the advantage of having only one inbox?
Let's take a look at the key advantages that a shared inbox offers your team in more detail.
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 a rep or alert them that a customer has reached out.
By sharing an inbox, everyone has access to incoming requests so the appropriate person is notified and can respond immediately.
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 promotes teamwork and improves team-wide communication.
3. Organize customer conversations.
If you have multiple customers emailing different reps about the same problem from different channels, it can be easy to miss emails, forget about requests, and simply work inefficiently.
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.
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 — Outlook. This will provide insight into what establishing a shared inbox may look like.
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 and unified Microsoft Outlook inbox using the following steps:
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, review the section below for a list of six popular shared inbox apps.
6 Multiple Email Account Apps
Here are some popular apps and tools for managing all of your emails and communications in a central and shared inbox.
Price: Free forever, or paid plans available for greater functionality.
HubSpot's Shared Inbox for Customer Conversations tool is a universal inbox that supports communication across different messaging channels and teams so you can provide efficient and personalized support at scale.
With HubSpot, you can put live chat, bot conversations, and team emails all in one place. The tool also automatically assigns and distributes emails and tasks among reps so no one is carrying the load for the rest of the team.
Due to this tool being part of HubSpot's all-in-one CRM platform and other powerful business tools such as Service Hub, you'll also have access to customer support templates, canned snippets, sequences, and documents so you can effectively and efficiently provide support.
HubSpot's Knowledge Base tool also allows you to create helpful support articles that can be quickly forwarded to customers who have simple or common problems so they can manage their challenges.
Pro Tip: Use HubSpot's Shared Inbox for Customer Conversations to have unlimited and personalized conversations with prospects and customers at scale via live chat, team email, Facebook Messenger, and chatbot.
Price: One-time payment of $99.75.
Mailbird syncs all your email accounts and email contacts in a unified inbox to allow for organized customer conversations through a shared view.
Integrate Mailbird with other apps and business tools such as Facebook, Twitter, Google Calendar, or Asana for an omnichannel experience.
Other features include customizable layouts for your email responses, easy LinkedIn lookups to connect and learn about your customers for higher-quality support, and message snoozing to help you prioritize the most important emails first.
Price: $19/month/ user with a minimum of two users.
ClientFlow makes email collaboration and communication — both internally with team members and externally with customers — easy. You can communicate one-on-one, with your team, or with clients all through the tool.
Assign conversations to team members, write comments to other reps about a specific email, and track the status of all incoming emails and responses. You'll also get notified of any "collisions" with other reps when responding to an email — meaning, ClientFlow will notify you if another rep is replying to the same email you're replying to.
Price: Free or paid plans available for greater functionality.
Spark improves team collaboration by providing you with the ability to easily share emails, responses, and drafts with each other. You can then delegate tasks, establish deadlines, and set automated notifications to track task progress.
Real-time editors and side chats help colleagues craft emails together and answer each others' questions while working. And pre-written templates can help you answer FAQs much faster.
Price: Plans starting at $19/month/user, billed annually.
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 messages, and Twitter messages, all at once.
Prioritize requests and manage your time more efficiently by sharing an integrated calendar with your team where you can list team and customer meetings. You can also integrate Front with your CRM and over 50 other apps for greater flexibility and accuracy across all of your tools.
Price: Plans starting at $12/month/user.
Hiver focuses specifically on shared inboxes within Gmail. You can easily delegate tasks and track progress on your unified Gmail inboxes as well as metrics of your choice to gain meaningful insights into your team's productivity.
You can also comment, chat, and share notes to communicate with your team without ever leaving the app.
Start Managing All Emails and Communications in One App
Begin managing all of your emails and communications via one app to centralize and organize all of your conversations with customers. This will result in an ability to provide more efficient and accurate support, and therefore, an ability to delight more customers.
Editor's note: This post was originally published in July 2019 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.