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Gmail Business Shared Mailbox: Limitations and Alternatives

Keeping Staff | October 20th, 2021

Every business should encourage customers to contact them with questions, concerns, feedback, or complaints. But if you invite customers to contact you via email, it’s important to have a system in place to manage these incoming requests. 

You may think that setting up a standard Gmail inbox for your customer service team is sufficient, but things can quickly turn chaotic as more and more emails start to come through. This is why many companies rely on a Gmail business shared mailbox to manage their customer support requests. 

Using a Gmail business shared mailbox might seem like a good solution if you’re already using Gmail as an email service provider. However, Gmail’s shared mailbox tool was not designed with the needs of a customer support team in mind.

What are the problems with using a Gmail account for business shared inbox? Is there a better alternative available? Here’s what you need to know to manage your customer support requests with ease:

What is a Gmail for business shared inbox?

Some companies set up a shared inbox simply by creating an email account and sharing the password with multiple users. This allows everyone to access the inbox by logging in with the proper credentials. 

However, sharing passwords puts your data at risk, which is why it’s not recommended. For this reason, most companies use the Google collaborative inbox as a shared inbox instead. 

A Google collaborative inbox is a single inbox that multiple users can access. You do not need to share log-in credentials with other users in order to give them access to this inbox. Anyone who is granted access to a collaborative inbox can read and respond to emails from their own Gmail account. 

All outgoing emails will come from the same group email address regardless of which member of your team responds. For example, if you have set up a collaborative inbox for your support@yourcompany.com email address, all outgoing mail will be sent from this email address rather than your team’s personal email addresses. 

This tool also allows users to assign tasks to one another, which makes it easier for your team to delegate work and keep track of the status of customer support requests.

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How can you set up a Google Suite shared mailbox?

Follow these steps to set up a Google Suite shared mailbox, also known as a collaborative inbox, to manage your customer support efforts:

  1. Create a Google Group that includes the people you want to have access to your collaborative inbox. To do this, simply log into Google Groups and click on “Create Group” in the top left corner.  If the group already exists, you must be an owner or manager of it to convert it into a collaborative inbox. 
  2. Once your group has been created, click on Group Settings.
  3. Select “Collaborative Inbox” under “Enable additional Google Group features.”
  4. Assign permissions to every member of your group. 
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  5. Now your team should be able to read and respond to emails sent to this group from their personal Gmail inbox.

What are the limitations of a G Suite group inbox?

The Gmail business shared mailbox is far from perfect. Some of its many limitations include:

  • Lack of Automation
  • No Collision Detection
  • No Built-In Reporting
  • Limited Collaboration 
  • Confusing User Interface

Lack of Automation

Google’s collaborative inbox is not designed to automate some of the manual, repetitive tasks involved in managing customer support requests

One of the most repetitive tasks is assigning emails to team members. Every time a new email comes in, someone must review it and determine who to assign it to. If it’s an ongoing conversation, they will need to assign it to the person who has been working on it already. But if it’s a new conversation, they will need to choose someone who has the time to handle the task as soon as possible.

Doing this for every new email is time-consuming, but there’s no way to automate it in Google’s collaborative inbox. As a result, your team may spend a lot of their time on low-skill tasks that could be automated. 

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No Collision Detection

Duplicating efforts is one of the biggest issues that teams encounter when sharing an inbox. This occurs when more than one person on your team responds to a customer support request because they aren’t aware that someone else is already working on it. Duplicating efforts is a huge waste of your team’s time. It can also confuse customers, who may not be sure why they are receiving more than one email in response to their initial request. 

To avoid this problem, your team needs to use a shared inbox that offers transparency into what everyone is working on. Unfortunately, the Google collaborative inbox is not designed with a collision detection feature that would prevent duplicated efforts. In a Google collaborative inbox, there’s no way to see when someone has already responded to a request or is in the process of responding to it.

No Built-In Reporting

The Gmail collaborative inbox is also not designed with any reporting features. This means you will not have access to the data you need to determine how well your team is managing customer support requests. 

Why is this a problem? Without this data, there’s no way for you to keep track of how many incoming customer support requests your team receives on a daily or weekly basis. You need to know this so you know when it’s appropriate to hire additional customer support help. 

You also won’t see how long it takes for your team to respond to an incoming request. As a result, you may not realize that your team is struggling to manage the volume of requests or that one member of your team is taking much longer to respond than everyone else. 

Not having this information makes it harder for you to identify problems and opportunities that could improve your customer support team

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Limited Collaboration

Even though it’s called a collaborative inbox, it is not designed with many of the features your team needs to successfully collaborate on customer support requests. 

For example, you can assign tasks to other members of your team inside a Google collaborative inbox. However, you cannot share notes with your team. This makes it harder for you to provide background information or follow up on the status of a specific task. 

So if you are escalating a task to a manager, for instance, there’s no way for you to tell your manager that the reason you are assigning the task to them is because it is a serious issue that needs to be addressed immediately.

Confusing User Interface

Businesses often choose Gmail as an email service provider because it has a simple user interface and is incredibly easy to use. However, the Google collaborative inbox does not have the same simple, clean layout as a Gmail inbox. 

Many people find it difficult to search for conversations, locate specific tasks, and keep track of the status of tasks in a Google collaborative inbox. So even though your team is already familiar with Gmail, they will need help understanding how to use the Gmail collaborative inbox.

Keeping shared mailbox

What is the best alternative to a Google Groups for business collaborative inbox?

Because of its limitations, the Google collaborative inbox is not ideal for managing customer support requests. But there is another solution. Keeping is the best alternative to a Google Groups for business collaborative inbox

Unlike other tools, Keeping works directly inside Gmail, so you won’t need to learn how to use a new program to share an inbox. It was also built specifically for teams that do more than just provide customer support, so it includes all of the features you need to manage requests, including:

  • Task assignment: Delegate incoming requests to other members of your team to share the workload.
  • Collision detection: Avoid duplicate responses and work by seeing who is working on what at any given moment.
  • Task status updates: Keep track of every incoming request by updating the task status. 
  • Shared notes: Use this feature to communicate about specific tasks with your team.
  • Shared templates: Save time by sharing templates with your team that can be inserted into emails with one click.
  • Automation: Eliminate manual, time-consuming tasks involved in managing customer support requests.
  • Reporting: Gain access to data to evaluate your team’s performance.

Don’t take our word for it. See why Keeping is the best alternative to a Gmail business shared mailbox by starting your free trial today. No credit card is required to sign up.