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Everything You Should Know About Adding A Collaborative Inbox in Gmail

Keeping Staff | November 24th, 2021

Millions of companies rely on Gmail to communicate with vendors, employees, business partners, and customers. Gmail is easy to use, reliable, and secure, which is why it’s one of the leading email service providers. 

Using Gmail to send and receive emails is simple and straightforward. But things become more complicated when you need to collaborate with the rest of your team, especially if your team is sharing a Gmail inbox to manage customer support requests.

One option is adding a collaborative inbox in Gmail instead of using a standard Gmail inbox for customer support requests. How does a collaborative inbox work? What are the pros and cons of using a collaborative inbox for customer support requests? Here’s what you need to know:

Are there Google Apps for email collaboration?

Google Workspace, which was formerly known as G Suite, is home to countless computing, productivity, collaboration, and other tools. Many companies assume that there are Google Apps for email collaboration that can be used to turn Gmail into a team-friendly help desk for customer support requests. However, that’s not the case.

There are currently no Google Apps for email collaboration available. If you want your team to use Gmail to work together on customer support requests, the collaborative inbox is the only option that Google offers.

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What is a Google collaborative inbox?

As its name suggests, the Google collaborative inbox is an inbox that teams can use to work together on emails. Everyone who has access to the collaborative inbox will be able to read and respond to emails sent to the account. But no matter who responds, the email will be sent from the group email address rather than the individual’s own email address. 

For example, say you give everyone on your team access to a collaborative inbox for the email address support@yourcompany.com. Now, everyone will be able to work together on resolving incoming customer support requests. But regardless of who responds to a message sent to this collaborative account, the email will come from support@yourcompany.com. 

Because it was designed specifically for collaboration, the collaborative inbox is built with helpful features that will make it easier for your team to work together. One of these features is the ability to assign tasks to other team members. This allows your team to assign incoming customer support requests to each other so everyone can share the workload. 

How to set up a collaborative inbox in Gmail

You must create a group in Google Groups in order to set up a collaborative inbox in Gmail. If you are already a part of a group, you can skip this section. Otherwise, follow these steps to set up a group in Google Groups

  1. Log into Google Groups.
  2. Click on “Create Group” in the top left corner.
  3. Enter your information, including the name of your group, the email address you want to be associated with your group, and a description of your group. Then, click on “Create group” when complete.
  4. Click on “Members” to begin adding your team members to your group. 
  5. Click “Add members” at the top of the screen. Enter the email address for each team member you would like to invite to the group. Click on “Add Members” once complete.

Now that your group is set up, you can move forward with adding a collaborative inbox in Gmail. Follow these steps:

  1. Sign into Google Groups and click on the name of your group.
  2. Go to “Group Settings” on the left.
  3. Look for the option to “enable additional Google Group features.” In this section, select the “Collaborative Inbox” feature.
  4. Adjust the permissions for each member of your group. There are two different types of permissions:
  • Who can moderate metadata: This permission level gives users the ability to assign new tasks and mark tasks as complete.
  • Who can moderate content: This permission level gives users the ability to label tasks as duplicates and label tasks as “no action needed.”

Now your collaborative inbox is set up. Everyone who is a part of your Google Group will automatically be given access to your collaborative inbox. 

It’s important to note you must be the group owner or manager to create a collaborative inbox. If you aren’t assigned one of these roles, reach out to the person who is to ask them to create a collaborative inbox for your group.

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What are the benefits of using a Gmail collaborative inbox?

It’s important to understand the benefits and drawbacks of adding a collaborative inbox in Gmail to manage your customer support requests. Some of the benefits of using a collaborative inbox in Gmail to manage customer support requests include:

  • It’s easy to set up. Creating a collaborative inbox in Gmail only takes a few minutes, so you can get started right away.
  • It’s a Gmail product. The collaborative inbox is made by Google, which means you can enjoy the security and reliability of using a Google product to manage your customer support requests.
  • It is designed with collaborative features. Unlike a standard Gmail inbox, the collaborative inbox is built with features that will make it easier to manage customer support requests as a team. This includes task assignment, status updates, and other collaborative features.
  • Everyone will have access to the support inbox. Using a collaborative inbox allows you to give everyone on your team access to your customer support inbox. As long as they are a part of the group, they will be able to read and respond to emails sent to the email address associated with your collaborative inbox.
  • You don’t have to share your login credentials. Setting up a collaborative inbox allows you to work together on responding to emails without sharing your login credentials with your team. Anyone you add to the group will be able to access the inbox using their own credentials. 
  • It’s free. You won’t have to pay to use a collaborative inbox in Gmail.

Package on Keyboard

What are the drawbacks of using a collaborative inbox in Gmail?

There’s no doubt that there are some benefits to using a collaborative inbox in Gmail to manage customer support requests as a team. However, there are also a number of drawbacks to this option, including:

  • No data. The collaborative inbox was not built with a reporting feature, so you won’t have access to the data you need to measure your team’s performance. This can make it harder to make important business decisions that could improve the quality of your customer service.
  • You still need third party tools to communicate. There’s no way to communicate with your team members in a collaborative inbox, so you will still need to rely on third party instant messaging tools.
  • You will still need to perform manual, repetitive tasks. Managing customer support requests involves a number of manual, repetitive tasks such as assigning tasks and responding to frequently asked questions. There’s no way to automate these tasks with a collaborative inbox, so your team will have to continue wasting their time on them.
  • You may duplicate someone else’s efforts. Everyone will have access to the emails in the collaborative inbox, which means anyone on your team can start responding to an incoming customer support request. However, the collaborative inbox is not designed with a collision detection feature that tells you when someone else is already working on a task. Because there’s no way of knowing who is working on what, you may end up responding to a request that someone else has already resolved. Not only is this a waste of your time, but it can also negatively impact the customer service experience for the customer.

Puzzle pieces

What is the best alternative to a collaborative inbox in Gmail?

Even though the Gmail collaborative inbox was designed to promote teamwork, it was not built specifically for customer support teams. As a result, it does not have the features your team needs to efficiently manage customer support requests. Fortunately, Keeping does. 

Keeping was built exclusively for customer support teams. It turns your Gmail account into a help desk and customer support tool. The best part? It works directly inside Gmail, which means you can access all of Keeping’s features without leaving your inbox. Some of Keeping’s many features include:

  • Task Assignment: Every email is converted into a help desk ticket that can be assigned to your team members. 
  • Status Updates: Choose from Open, Closed, and Pending statuses to keep track of every request in your team’s inbox.
  • Collision Detection: Keeping will tell you when someone is already working on a task so you never waste your time on duplicating your co-workers’ efforts again.
  • Shared Notes: Communicate with your team directly within your Gmail inbox so you don’t have to rely on third party messaging tools.
  • Shared Response Templates: Create and share templates that include responses to the most frequently asked questions. 
  • Automation: Save time by automating time-consuming, repetitive tasks such as task assignment, task prioritization, and more.
  • Reporting: Use Keeping to pull data so you can see how well your team is performing. 

Getting started with Keeping is easy. Just connect your email account to Keeping--that’s all it takes. Learn more about how Keeping works by starting your free trial today.