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How to Use A Gmail Shared Inbox

Andrew Rivers | November 22nd, 2021

Your customers are the lifeblood of your business. Keeping them happy is crucial to your company’s success. But managing your relationships with your customers isn’t always easy.

Many small- to medium-sized businesses use Gmail to field customer service questions, concerns, and other requests.  Everyone on your customer service team needs access to incoming customer requests. To do this, experts recommend creating a Gmail shared inbox for your customer service team.

How does it work? How can you set up and manage your Google apps shared mailbox? Read on to find out what you need to know.

What is a Gmail shared mailbox?

A shared inbox is an inbox that multiple people can access and use to send and receive emails.

A Gmail shared mailbox is typically used to help sales or support teams manage incoming and outgoing messages. A true shared inbox will have functionality to allow multiple team members to work together.

How it works: an example of a customer messaging a team inbox for sales and customer service

To illustrate how a Gmail shared inbox works, consider this example. Say you create a shared inbox for your customer service team with the email address To access the shared mailbox, users simply need to log into their email account. They don’t need to create a unique log-in and password for the shared mailbox.

By creating a shared inbox in gmail, you are allowing every member of your sales or support team to access the inbox to read and respond to emails just as they would if they were the sole owner of the inbox. 

If a customer emails the address, it will go to every member of your customer support team. Regardless of which member of your team responds, the email will be sent from the shared email address. If the customer responds to the email, this response will be sent to every member of your support team. But the customer won’t see that it was sent to multiple team members. All they will see is that it was sent to the email address.

Gmail shared inbox overload

Why should you share a Google inbox?

There are many reasons why you should consider setting up a G Suite shared mailbox for your customer service team. Some of the benefits of a Gmail shared inbox include:

  • Easier for customers to contact you. Having one shared email address for your entire customer service team makes it easier for customers to remember who to contact when they need assistance.
  • Increased visibility. Everyone on your customer service team will have access to all of the emails sent to the inbox, which increases visibility and transparency.
  • Improves collaboration. Sending all customer requests to one inbox makes it easier for your customer service team to work together on resolving customer issues.
  • Faster response time. Your customers won’t have to wait until a specific member of the customer service team is available to get a response to their request. Instead, an urgent request can be handled by anyone who has access to the inbox.
  • Better customer service. By speeding up your response time, a shared gmail inbox can improve the overall quality of your team’s customer service.
  • Easy to monitor. Monitoring a shared inbox is just as easy as monitoring an individual Gmail account, so you won’t need to spend hours training new members of your customer service team.
  • Grow with your business. As your business grows, so can your shared inbox. You can give new members of your team access to the shared inbox at any time.

If you want to experience these benefits, your team needs to share a Google inbox to manage customer support requests.

How can you use Gmail to create a shared mailbox?

Creating a shared Gmail inbox is easy. Follow these steps to set one up:

  1. Create a new Gmail account for the email address you want to associate with the shared inbox.
  2. Log into this Gmail account and click on “Settings” and then “See All Settings.” You must be on a computer to access these settings.
  3. Click on the Accounts and Import Tab.
  4. Look for the “Grant access to your account” section. Click on “Add another account.”
  5. Enter the email address of the person who you would like to add to the shared inbox. 
  6. Click on “Send email to grant access.” The person will receive an email from Gmail asking them to confirm that they want access to the shared inbox. They must accept this invitation in order to access the shared inbox.

Now, each person who you grant access to will be able to view the shared inbox whenever they log into their email account. Repeat these steps to add additional members of your team to the shared inbox.

How can you revoke someone’s access to your shared Gmail account?

If you need to revoke someone’s access to the shared inbox, visit the same Accounts and Import tab in your settings. Scroll down to the “Grant access to your account” section. You should see a list of email addresses that currently have access to your shared inbox. Click on “Delete” next to the email address you wish to remove from the shared inbox.

Are you having trouble granting access to someone on your team? If so, check the email address you are entering. You can only add other people from your company to your shared inbox, so it won’t work if you are trying to grant access to someone using their personal email.

If you’re still unable to grant access to someone, check your settings. The “Require user to change password at next sign-in” option needs to be turned off. If it’s not, you won’t be able to add new users to your shared inbox.

This is one of the drawbacks of using Gmail to share an inbox - it can be challenging to manage your individual team member's permissions.

Gmail shared inbox on mobile

Why can’t you just share the password to your G Suite Shared Mailbox?

Some people don’t understand why they need to go through these steps to create a G Suite shared mailbox. They assume that sharing their log-in information with their team would be a much easier way to use Gmail to create a shared mailbox. This method may be easier, but it’s definitely not a good option. 

Sharing your password with others is a security risk. The more people that have your password, the more likely it is that it will fall into the wrong hands. To protect your sensitive data, it’s crucial that you keep your password confidential.

Can I just use Google Groups as my shared inbox? 

You can use a Google Group to manage your group email, but you'll soon find that Google Groups were not designed to help teams manage customer support.  Messages sent by a Google Group also include "click here to unsubscribe" link which doesn't look great to your customers.  And your group members have no way of assigning or prioritizing tickets.

What are the benefits of using a Google Apps shared mailbox? 

There’s one main benefit of using a Google Apps shared mailbox: it’s simple and free. Setting up one of these inboxes will only take a few minutes even if you aren’t very tech-savvy. Plus, your customer service team already uses Gmail, so they’re already familiar with how it works. This means your team won’t need to learn how to use a new program in order to manage their customer service efforts.

What challenges will you face when using a shared Gmail inbox?

There’s no question that there are countless benefits to creating a shared inbox for your customer service team. However, Gmail’s shared inbox product is far from perfect

A shared inbox looks and works just like a standard Gmail inbox. The standard Gmail set-up may work just fine for an individual account, but it is not ideal when multiple people are using the same inbox. Because of this, you may encounter several challenges when using a shared Gmail inbox, including:

  • Duplicating efforts
  • Failing to respond to requests
  • Unbalanced workloads
  • Difficulty communicating
  • No automation

Gmail shared inbox with a team

Duplicating efforts

There’s no way to delegate customer requests to specific members of your team using Gmail’s shared inbox. As a result, multiple customer service representatives may start working on a request or responding to an email at the same time. 

The customer may receive two responses from different members of your team, which can create confusion and chaos. Duplicating efforts is also an inefficient use of your team’s time. Avoiding this scenario is one of the main challenges that teams will face when using a shared Gmail inbox.

Failing to respond to requests

Not being able to delegate customer requests to members of your team could also lead to other problems. For example, say a customer request comes in via email. Everyone on your team sees it in the shared inbox, but they all assume that someone else will handle it. Because everyone makes this assumption, the customer never heard back from your company. 

Unbalanced workloads

Because you can’t assign tasks to other team members in a Gmail shared inbox, there’s no way for you to ensure that everyone on your customer service team is pulling their weight. This can result in unbalanced workloads across your customer service team. 

Difficulty communicating

There’s no way for team members to communicate or collaborate with one another in Gmail’s shared inbox. This tool does not have built-in communication features, which means your team may need to use a third party instant messaging or project management tool to discuss a specific task.

Having to switch back and forth between an inbox and a third party tool can complicate things. For example, say one customer service representative uses an instant messaging app to ask their team lead a question about a specific request from a customer named David A. The team lead opens the shared inbox to look up the request. However, the team lead accidentally opens a request from a customer named David B. instead. Because the team lead is looking at the wrong request, they provide incorrect information to the representative who is trying to resolve David A’s issue. 

Gmail shared inbox screen

Can you use a Gmail shared inbox for team transparency?

Transparency is one of the keys to providing high quality customer service. But unfortunately, a Gmail shared inbox does not provide much transparency into your team’s efforts.

Remember, there’s no way to see what someone else is working on in a Gmail shared inbox, so your team may waste a lot of time duplicating their efforts. If a Gmail shared inbox offered more transparency into what other members of the team were working on, this wouldn’t be a problem. 

But that’s not the only transparency issue related to using a Gmail shared inbox. There are no reporting features on a shared Gmail inbox, which means you won’t be able to access the data you need to evaluate your team’s performance. 

You won’t be able to see how many requests your team is receiving on a daily or weekly basis, for example. You also won’t know how long it takes for your team to respond to these requests on average. Without this information, it’s difficult for you to make important business decisions that could improve your customer service.

For example, say you aren’t aware that the volume of incoming requests has increased steadily over the last several months. Now, your team is managing three times as many requests as they used to in the past. Because the volume of requests has increased so much, they may need additional help. 

However, if you don’t have access to this data, there’s no way for you to know that you should hire someone else to assist your team. As a result, your team will continue to struggle to keep up with the growing number of requests. Your team’s response time may slow down, which can reduce the overall quality of your customer service.

The bottom line? Gmail does not provide transparency into your team’s efforts. If you’re looking for a shared inbox for team transparency, Gmail is not the solution.

How can you effectively manage a Gmail shared inbox?

Fortunately, there is a way to overcome the challenges of sharing a Gmail inbox. Keeping is a third party tool that turns your shared inbox into a help desk. Using this tool, your team can convert customer service email requests into trackable and assignable tickets within Gmail.

Why should you use Keeping to manage your customer service shared inbox?

Small- and medium-sized businesses love using Keeping for customer service shared inbox management. Why? Let’s count the ways:

  1. It’s invisible to your customers. Your customers will never know you are using a third party tool to manage and respond to their requests, ensuring a top notch customer experience.
  2. It allows everyone on your team to respond to customer service emails directly from their inbox. All of these emails are organized in a different section of their inboxes so they can keep them separate from their other work-related emails.
  3. It puts an end to duplicate efforts. Keeping prevents more than one person on your team from working on the same request. Find out in real-time if your team member is working on the same ticket with advanced collision detection.
  4. It makes it easy to share the workload. Your team can delegate emails and assign tasks to each other to ensure that everyone has a balanced, fair workload.
  5. It provides status updates. You can update the status on each request to “Open,” “Closed,” or “Pending,” so nothing falls through the cracks and no more wondering who was supposed to follow-up with a customer.
  6. It enables communication. You can easily share private email notes, questions, or comments with your team in real-time so you won't need to use a third party tool to communicate.
  7. Keeping makes managing a shared inbox on an app easy. You can access all of Keeping’s features on your desktop or mobile device, which makes it easier to respond to customer support requests when you’re on the go.
  8. You can use Workflows and email templates to bring powerful automation to your shared inbox.  No more repetitive tasks.

Using Keeping is the best way for your customer support team to manage a Gmail shared inbox. It integrates with Google Workspaces so you don't need to open up another browser tab. But you don’t have to take our word for it. To learn more about Keeping, start your free 14-day trial today.