Most businesses have a public email address like support@, help@, or info@, and attempt to share access with a team so they can support customers who need their help. Using a vanilla Gmail or Outlook account has severe limitations. Instead, companies should consider adopting a shared inbox tool.
In this article, we’ll share the key features needed in a shared inbox and our top shared inbox tools for 2024.
Just what is a shared inbox, exactly?
A shared inbox is basically an email for teams. Shared inboxes have been designed for groups of individuals to collaborate on managing email, with the ability to read, respond, delete, and more – all without clashing with other members of the team.
Shared inboxes take email to the next level by allowing you to manage a high volume of communication without as much fatigue since features such as collision detection and assignments create more streamlined workflows.
So, the best kind of shared inbox tool allows you to take your favorite email client, such as Gmail, and turn it into a platform that facilitates collaboration over email. Tools such as Keeping enable you to stay within Gmail, taking advantage of all your top features, with additional ones that make group email a breeze.
Probably one of the biggest reasons to use a shared inbox is for multiple people being able to access the inbox at the same time without locking each other out. This level of accessibility and team collaboration cannot be achieved with the traditional email client.
Typical features of a shared inbox
While the various shared inbox or team inbox software might differ in their suite of functionality, there are a few top features you should look for when considering a shared inbox.
What do you do when two people simultaneously reply to the same email from a customer? In order to avoid the embarrassment of duplicate replies, shared inboxes usually offer a collision detection feature that prevents multiple team members from responding to an email at the same time. This feature essentially locks the email so that nobody can write a reply that clashes with someone else’s.
Multiple agent logins
A particularly important shared inbox feature is the capability for multiple agent logins, who are given accounts and permissions by an administrator. Agents can log into your shared inbox simultaneously and work on customer tickets without getting locked out of the app for security purposes.
Another way to prevent duplicate work is using the ticket assignment feature. This means that tickets (emails) are assigned to particular agents so that everyone knows what they are working on. Using ticket assignment will also allow teams to gain further insight into how each member is performing and offer help accordingly. Assigning tickets lets you manage a shared mailbox fairly and ensure that individual agents aren’t overwhelmed.
Without a shared inbox, it’s easy to lose track of where you are in dealing with customer tickets. Being able to assign a ticket a status enables you to quickly see whether a ticket is Open, Closed or Pending, and quickly intervene if a customer has been kept waiting. This feature comes in especially useful when you can see that someone has read an email but you don’t know whether they have responded without opening the email and reading through the chain to check.
Sometimes customer inquiries are complex and being able to conduct internal discussions that are not visible to the customer is extremely useful. Internal team chat allows you to post comments and tag team members to successfully collaborate on customer tickets – all without leaving the comfort of your shared inbox. This prevents you having to forward emails in long chains and losing track of the original message.
Automations can significantly reduce the time it takes to perform mundane, repetitive tasks, by allowing you to automatically assign tickets, add tags, or change the status of a ticket, without requiring your agents to lift a finger. When you set rules in your shared inbox they will automatically execute and apply themselves to new and existing tickets. Conditions can trigger actions in your shared inbox and streamline workflows perfectly.
Many times, customers will get in touch with inquiries that require similar or identical responses. Save time in your shared inbox with your canned responses, which are saved templates that you can use to insert in your replies. Shared inbox software shares these templates between everyone in your team so each member has access to canned responses.
When it’s not possible to answer your customers right away, you’ll want to let your customers know you’re working on it. Automatic replies can be triggered whenever a customer first sends you an email containing your own customized text with important information. You can even include links to your knowledge base which may deflect many repetitive customer tickets.
Manage multiple shared emails
The right inbox software will allow you to connect multiple shared email addresses to your account so you can easily toggle between them. Avoiding the hassle of logging in and out to separate email accounts saves you time and also facilitates a broad overview of all your email addresses in one interface.
Analytics are another feature that you will not get if you remain with a traditional email service provider. A shared inbox gives you access to all sorts of data about your customer tickets and your team’s performance that enable you to gain insight and make improvements, with AI often making the whole process easier.
How does a shared inbox work?
If you want to adopt a shared inbox you have to start off with a shared email address for your team. Usually this would be for a custom domain and would look something like email@example.com.
Once you have your shared email address, you can select your shared inbox software. You link your email address with your shared inbox software such as Keeping, authenticating the address with your provider, and then multiple users will be able to access your inbox simultaneously.
The right shared inbox software will update in real-time so you never lose track of your customer emails. Some solutions integrate directly with Gmail so you simply log into Gmail and integrate with a tool like Keeping through the browser extension.
Benefits of using a shared inbox
You may need a little persuasion to help you choose a shared inbox for your business’s customer support team, so here are the top benefits.
Makes managing emails much easier – using a traditional inbox really restricts you when it comes to managing email sent to a shared address.
Enables teams to collaborate on email – teams can get together behind-the-scenes to solve inquiries collectively.
Advanced reporting gives insights into performance – traditional inboxes don’t gather data relating to the emails you receive or how you respond to them, so you can’t improve your processes.
Vastly improves the customer experience – customers are better supported when you have access to shared inbox features that speed up the time and quality of service.
Why should your team use a shared inbox?
Customer service teams wishing to provide support to their customers will definitely want to consider a shared inbox. If email is your primary channel of communication, whether that’s supporting external customers or internal stakeholders, then shared inbox software will help you achieve your goals.
You may be tempted to remain within a basic Gmail or Outlook account, because you want to avoid the added expense or worry you don’t have the time to learn new software. The great news is there is shared inbox software such as Keeping which allows you to to remain within a familiar interface and benefit from collaborative team features.
A shared inbox takes your email to your next level by allowing multiple agents to collaborate effectively without stepping on each other’s toes. Customers benefit from a better support experience as they receive the help they need in a timely manner and can avoid repeating the same information.
How do I access a shared inbox?
There are two ways that you might access a shared inbox:
Directly through your email client, by logging into an app such as Gmail which integrates with your shared inbox tool. You remain within a familiar interface while gaining access to shared inbox features.
It could be a shared inbox that syncs data with your main inbox and requires you to learn a third-party tool. Shared inboxes such as Freshdesk or Zendesk fall into this category.
A proper shared inbox should ideally be the first option, where you don’t have to leave the comfort of your traditional email client to access shared inbox features.
The best shared inbox tools
Now, we’re going to take a deep dive into the next shared inbox tools for your growing business.
If you’ve never heard of Keeping, then you’re in for a treat. You’ll definitely want to consider Keeping as a shared inbox tool because it works right on top of Gmail for a seamless support experience. Agents are thrilled to use Keeping because they don’t have to learn a new tool and yet Keeping is far more advanced than a traditional Gmail inbox. With Keeping, you get the best of both worlds for your agents and customers.
You might be struggling with a solution like Google Groups which you chose because it was free. Keeping can simply be added to a Google Group to give you access to all the advanced features needed for true collaboration in email. The price of Keeping is not much of a step up either, enabling you to stay within budget.
Choosing Keeping means you can upgrade your email experience without compromising on speed and agility. An intuitive user experience has your team up and running immediately so customers never experience a lapse in service.
What makes Keeping unique?
Keeping beats the competition because it works directly on top of Gmail to deliver a superior user experience. Customer service teams that are used to working in the Gmail interface will enjoy switching to Keeping without sacrificing usability or speed. Keeping remains invisible to customers so you can focus on providing great service.
With Keeping, you always keep control of your data and if you ever decide to leave Keeping, your emails remain with your email client. This enables you to avoid vendor lock-in and always have the option of choosing the tool that is best for your business.
Simple, straightforward and easy, Keeping is the answer to your customer support or sales needs. Users love how intuitive Keeping is to use because it enables them to keep right on going with their existing workflows while gaining the advantage of shared inbox features.
Collaboration without collisions enable multiple agents to work together
Automate without hassle by creating conditions and rules
Best-in-class analytics that give insight into performance
Missive is a shared inbox and chat app that offers powerful AI integrations, including with OpenAI allowing you to compose and translate messages directly within the app. Businesses are using Missive to communicate with customers using both email and chat for a holistic customer experience.
Customer support and sales teams can benefit from Missive’s capabilities to manage team email seamlessly. Emails that are assigned to particular agents are moved from the main inbox into a personal inbox, to show who is handling what.
One feature that sets Missive apart is the ability to create Observer roles, which means that team members can view the inbox without participating to get an overview of what’s going on.
AI integrations with OpenAI make it easier to communicate with customers
Chat app for customer instant messaging alongside email
Send undo grace period to recall emails in case you make a mistake
The next shared inbox on our list is Front, which enables you to bring your customer service team together for personalized service. Users of Front enjoy a host of channels including email, SMS, chat and voice which can all be accessed from the same dashboard for a holistic customer experience.
In Front, it’s possible to conduct conversations about customer tickets and collaborate with teammates behind-the-scenes. Messages can be routed automatically so you always know who is responsible for handling which inquiry. Front basically combines the capabilities of the help desk with the format of an email.
Since Front is also a CRM, you have full visibility into customer history so agents know exactly who they’re dealing with, every time. This facilitates a much more personalized customer experience at scale.
Customer knowledge base for creating self-service content
Analytics that give insight into tickets and team performance
Omnichannel inbox that brings multiple channels together
4. Help Scout
Just like some of the other tools listed here, Help Scout is a full-service help desk but also a shared inbox. This means you can manage email quickly and easily with Help Scout, supporting a team of agents to implement advanced processes and workflows. Users will enjoy the intuitive interface of Help Scout while taking advantage of powerful features.
You have the benefit of bringing all your customer emails and social messages into one place so you can provide a cohesive experience. Being able to automatically sort, assign and label emails takes your inbox to the next level as you unburden yourself of the task of managing emails as they come in.
One of the biggest reasons businesses use a shared inbox is for the ability to collaborate on email, and Help Scout enables you to do just that. Internally discuss emails and mention teammates to solve inquiries together, remaining invisible to the customer.
Canned responses make it easier to reply to repetitive emails
Analytics allow you to stay on track of your inbox and assign agents
Customer profiles and history give you vital context to the conversation
Gorgias is shared inbox software specialized for ecommerce customer support teams. With Gorgias, you have access to all the standard features as well as AI that will enable you to automatically reply to customer tickets and tag tickets with the right categories.
Integrating directly with Shopify, Gorgias brings together all your support channels for a connected customer experience so no one falls through the cracks. You can refund, update or cancel orders directly from within Gorgias because you have access to Shopify from the platform.
If you’re using Shopify for ecommerce, then Gorgias is a good choice. Automated workflows lifted the burden from your support team, giving them more time to devote to customers and affording you a competitive edge.
Canned responses and personalized variables allow you to customize customer conversations
Install a chat widget on your website to instantly message with customers
Receive voice calls from shoppers for those who prefer to speak
The great thing about Zendesk is that it is modifiable and customizable, making it flexible enough to suit a wide range of business needs. With Zendesk, you can bring all of your channels together and create workflows to enable you to manage a high volume of tickets with ease. Channels are integrated so that customers are able to switch between them seamlessly without repeating information.
Zendesk makes use of AI so you can solve customer tickets faster through suggesting responses, and detecting customer intent. A self-service help center empowers customers to solve problems on their own, drastically reducing the amount of time your agents must spend on tickets. Automatically write support articles with AI to save even more precious minutes.
The essence of a shared inbox is the ticketing system, which is extremely robust in Zendesk. What you can do is only limited by your imagination, but this can sometimes result in Zendesk being clunky, complex and confusing.
Guide lets you build a self-service knowledge base to help customers without agents
Messaging keeps you in touch with customers in real-time
Accessible via API for customizations that your team can build
Freshdesk is a popular alternative to Zendesk and as a straightforward shared inbox allows you to scale customer support without increasing costs. Made by Freshworks, you can benefit from their suite of integrations so customers can access the full experience. As a help desk, each ticket is fully contextualized so teams of agents can collaborate effectively.
Focused on deflecting as many tickets as possible, customers can turn to your customized knowledge base and widgets to find answers to common questions. Generative AI, automations and workflows save your agents time by eliminating manual work from the back end.
If anything, Freshdesk can become a little too complex because it packs so many features. AI supports you to enhance your conversations as well as powering your data insights for more advanced reporting. At its heart, Freshdesk helps you track tickets so you can help more customers.
No-code bots to serve customers when they need it without agent help
Collision detection to prevent duplicate work in agents responding to emails
Thank you detector stops tickets being reopened when they have already been solved
Gladly is another shared inbox tool that you can use to manage your incoming customer support inquiries. Liberating you from the ticket model, Gladly focuses on customer service and helps you automate replies with AI. Gladly puts customers at the center and begins with an understanding of exactly who every customer is.
Personalized self-service powered by AI helps customers find what they need, in line with company policies and processes. No matter how customers end up getting in touch, Gladly unifies every channel so you never miss a message or call again.
Like other multichannel tools, you can consolidate many platforms in Gladly saving you untold amounts in tech costs and complexity. Customer profiles enable agents to see at-a-glance who a customer is without having to switch context or ask repetitive questions.
Multichannel inbox across voice, email and live chat
Gladly Sidekick, an AI and automation platform for self-service
Accept payments through messaging channels to increase revenue
Kustomer is a powerful shared inbox software that uses conversations, tickets, data and orders to enable your agents to help each and every customer. Utilizing generative AI, you can scale customer support with Kustomer’s no-code chatbot Superbot to automatically assist customers without agent intervention.
Data enables Kustomer to anticipate customer needs, helping you to provide customer support at scale. As well as reactively supporting customers, you can use push notifications to proactively engage customers and drive sales.
Timeline views show you exactly how customers have interacted with your business across every stage in the journey so you can maximize satisfaction and loyalty. Kustomer’s open API enables you to integrate with other apps so you can display the right data and make more effective decisions.
Auto-translation for more than 70 languages enables multilingual support
Natural language processing to detect customer intent
Bulk message specific customer segments for outreach
Businesses who choose shared inbox software can benefit from a multitude of features that help you take customer support to the next level. While it’s possible to manage with a traditional inbox for a short time when your business is still small, you’ll soon find it necessary to upgrade to a tool such as Keeping.
If teams of agents are collaborating on email, you’ll need extra capabilities such as collision detection, assignment and status to ensure efficiency and productivity. Scaling is only possible with a shared inbox which will keep customers happy and elevate the customer experience.
Being able to remain comfortably in your traditional inbox such as Gmail while accessing advanced features makes Keeping a top choice for customer support teams. Go beyond viewing individual emails and turn each ticket into a collaborative experience.
Frequently Asked Questions about shared inboxes
Can I use Google Groups as a shared inbox?
Google Groups is Google’s version of a group forum where you can send group messages. These also update group members with notifications through a group inbox. If someone wants to email the Google Group, they must become a member of the group before they can send a message to the group email address. It’s not always realistic to expect all your customers to become a member of your Google Group.
You can connect Keeping with any Google Group you manage to ensure that messages sent to your group are forwarded to Keeping as tickets. This means you can keep your Google Group while at the same time adopting Keeping to manage email collaboratively.
Can’t I just use Google Collaborative Inbox?
A Collaborative Inbox is an extended feature for Google Groups to enable you to have access to more collaborative features in your group. This makes Google Groups somewhat more like a shared inbox but not exactly, meaning that this is not the right solution for your customer support team if you want to manage a volume of email.
What email address does the response come from in a shared inbox?
You can choose to either send your email response to a customer from the shared email, such as firstname.lastname@example.org, or you can send it from the personal email address of the agent who has sent the response.
Who do replies go to in the shared inbox?
If an email has been assigned to a particular agent then emails will usually return to the agent who has previously replied to the email. If the email is unassigned then incoming messages will arrive in the main inbox.
How do you log into a shared inbox?
Usually, individuals log into a shared inbox with their individual logins which are assigned by an administrator. If you are using a tool such as Keeping, you log in with your Gmail credentials after being added to the shared inbox by an administrator, accepting the invitation to sync your mailbox and adding the Keeping browser extension.
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