March 26, 2021

Sortd - Using a Team Email workspace for Customer Support

The latest trends show that modern customer service and support teams want to work more collaboratively to deliver client results fast. Since Team Email is a new concept, we created this guide exploring it further.

Are you finding that customer Emails are slipping through the cracks? You are not alone. Email was never designed for team collaboration or for managing customer support. 

Until recently, using Team Inboxes for sales, customer service and support were somewhat uncommon. 

Teams used to rely on each individual being super organized but the effort required to fight off the endless stream of emails, reply-alls and email chains coming at your every day means that even most organized and well intentioned people run disorganized mailboxes. 

But there is a better approach ...

Businesses who have embraced modern team collaboration tools have seen tangible benefits on their bottom line, team delivery and customer service levels.  The concept of “Team Email” tools for sales, customer service and support is being adopted in greater numbers by thousands of organizations worldwide … due to its simplicity and overall value to business.

Most companies start out with a simple email address to manage customer service and support. But with regular customer inbound, things quickly get disorganized. When a team shares one email account there is no sense of accountability with who is dealing with what and results in a process that doesn’t guarantee any level of service. 

Low hanging fruit

Like in many other parts of business, embracing the right tool for that job can quickly put your team ahead and give you a service and delivery edge over competitors.  Running a managed sales, customer service and support team is one of the greatest opportunities to build long term relationships with customers, and word of mouth for your business. 

A Team Email solution is easy to set up, low cost and will quickly empower your teams to deliver results.

Sortd’s Shared Inbox and Team Email workspace for Gmail-based teams provide a new way to impress your customers (and your team).  Its user experience is baked into the Gmail experience meaning that your team has nothing to learn and runs on top of Gmail and Google Workspace. In Sortd, you can assign emails to anyone on the team from customer support, to customer success or accounts, you can comment on tasks and manage customer requests through a visual workflow.

Approaches to team email

Before team inboxes, employees used to rely on a single email address, copying and forwarding emails between individuals, or using expensive Help Desks type apps to solve communication problems. 

Team email tools and workarounds come in different forms as shown below and enable your team to centralize messages sent to email addresses like support@, help@, service@ etc. 

  • Distribution Lists and Email Aliases - A relatively crude way to manage team emails. Emails sent to a specified email address are then distributed to one of more individuals in a team. Depending how customers reply, emails are often not visible to the team.
  • Shared Mailbox - The team is able to all log into one common email (i.e. however it is difficult to know who is responsible for what.
  • Specialized Help Desks and Shared Inboxes - These are built to manage customer queries with tickets and  round-robinning. Specialized solutions can be expensive and overkill for most teams as they don't work alongside tools like Gmail (and requiring teams to switch to a new system).
  • All-in-one Team Email workspace (for Gmail) - Offers a true collaborative workspace where teams can organize and manage customer conversations and move work through visual workflows.

Deciding on the best option for your company means that you need to evaluate what features and functionality you want.  

In this guide we will focus on the benefits of using Sortd’s Gmail-based team email workspace to manage customer service and support.  When choosing and deciding how to manage customer service and support, it’s important to consider your future needs.  Selecting the right approach means that you can use the same tool to manage work across the business from Customer Support to Client Service, Customer Success, Sales, Finance and Project Management.  Also, with Sortd’s approach, team members can continue to use their own email and immediately get draw benefits to boost productivity.

6 reasons to upgrade to an all-in-one team email workspace

Your team is frequently running into issues where they don’t know who is taking on what, emails get lost, responses are slow and your team spends more time coordinating who is doing the work than actually servicing the customer ..  then it’s probably time to upgrade to a shared inbox. 

Here are a few clear signs that it’s time to consider adopting better email management tool:

  1. You don’t know if your customers are happy with the service they receive from the company.
  2. You and your team are not certain who handled a customer support issue, and your team wastes time hunting for customer emails or searching to find out what was promised to the customer.
  3. Multiple team members are dealing with the same customer on the same issue, duplicating effort or introducing more issues by offering customers contradictory replies.
  4. Collaboration is slow and there is no quick way to assign work across the business to the people that can actually help (whether they are in support or not) or add comments to emails etc.
  5. Customers are regularly left hanging and are following up with you to see why they haven’t had a response.
  6. You have no visibility or insight into your team’s work or if a customer’s issue has been resolved. You don’t know what customer queries are in what stage, the volume of work that is still outstanding and who has responded and what items are still open.

Any one of these issues above may be enough of a reason to consider upgrading your to a business-class email solution like Sortd. 

Sortd’s collaborative Team Email workspace 

Sortd’s team email workspace molds itself to the way that your team likes to work.  Rather than expecting your team to adapt itself to the tool, Sortd can be tailored to any team process or workflow.  It brings a new dimension of collaboration with total transparency, accountability and flexibility into email.

In Sortd you can select a board layout that works for your team:

Sortd brings email and work management into one system and what’s best is that it works right in Gmail, where your team is most comfortable.  

With Sortd there is very little new to learn and it includes added capabilities to keep your team productive (without creating a new layer of work).  This means you can deliver exceptional email service and support from the word go (in Gmail).

In the modern remote working world, teams collaborate on Email, Google Chat, Google Docs, and real-time boards rather than with lengthy status meetings. But while email is the heart of workplace communication when dealing with the outside world — Gmail’s collaboration capabilities are limited.  Sortd works alongside all these tools above to provide a comprehensive business-class experience.

Sortd brings teams together and puts everyone on the same page. It takes emails that are buried in personal inboxes and presents teamwork on visual boards, alongside team tasks.  It also allows shared email addresses to be visible to the team. Team members can move emails through a visual workflow, comment and @mention each other on a single copy of an email and add next steps and follow-up tasks. 

Sortd transforms how teams communicate, both internally and externally and becomes a powerful hub for centralizing communication with customers and suppliers.

Make it easier for the customer (and your team)

Most Support Desks and Help desks treat the customer like a ticket, rather than like a human.  Ticket numbers tends to add complexity in customer communications and often interrupts the flow of natural conversations - requiring the customer to log into the help desk to see the status or resolve their issues.

Sortd is invisible to the customer and helps team build an authentically human way to build a relationship with the customer.

Teams start a customer conversation right in Gmail or delegate customer queries on a visual board.  Teams can hand-off work naturally and see what a customer asked for, whether they were copied on the original email or not (with complete access to note and team comments.

This means that you can turn around a response in a far shorter time with less effort, less back-and-forth and without any CCs, BCCs or Email Forwards.

Respond to customers as a team and keep everyone on the same page

Replying to a customer often requires assistance from your team but in doing so there is always a risk that one of your team members loops the customer into a potentially sensitive internal conversation. Before Sortd, you might rather compose a new email to the team to ensure the customer is not copied. This typically ends up splintering into multiple disparate emails to solve one customer issue.

Sortd’s powerful chat capability solves this problem and keeps everything together in one place.  In one view you can see the customer’s email on the left and your team’s chat on the right, alongside notes, next steps and other important information (like customers contact details, attachments, order information, checklists etc). Also, team chat is instant and it makes the flow of communications with @mentions clearer and more action orientated.

Prevent two people bumping heads and wasting time on the same issue

When a customer emails a team address or copies two or more people, it’s often unknown who will ultimately respond to the client.  The team will either spend time coordinating who will respond or two people will respond to the same issue. This extra overhead is wasted time that could have been redirected to offering better customer service to another client.

In Sortd, when a team member picks up an email or task, or sets a next step, Sortd will show the photo of the team member to indicate that they own the task.  This indicator prevents bumping of heads, extra coordination or duplication of work.

Assign work to make it clear who’s responsible

Any email and task in Sortd can be assigned or delegated to a team member.  This gives your team the power to know who is accountable and responsible for any piece of work or any response to the customer. 

Additionally, even if a team member forgets to copy you on an email (after you have assigned it on to them), you can still access the full conversation with the customer from the board.  This enables true follow-up and follow-through management, to completion, with clear ownership along the way.  

You can also filter any board by assignee and balance work loads knowing how busy everyone on the team is or re-assign work when a team member is out of the office.

Tailor your board to the way your team likes to work (with workflows and custom properties)

Sortd’s team boards are not limited to one type of customer service workflow.  You can tailor your boards to manage sales, customer support, customer success and any type of customer-facing workflow that your team needs.  

In particular you can add custom properties to add Tags, Input fields, Drop-downs, Notes, Paperwork, Checklists and even CRM type of data.  You can also get a task history of how a customer request has changed over time.

Stop all the busywork and boost team productivity

Give your team the tools they need to become more productive without adding any extra burden in learning something new.  In Sortd you can manage your email like a to do list, you can set reminders and follow-ups or organize anything on a project board. 

Eliminating all the busywork gives your team their time back, so that they can speak more regularly with customers, to understand customer problems and sell more - rather than spending time in their inbox

Using support as a channel to drive more business

Smart teams know very well that customer service and support channels are a valuable tool to learn more about customer needs.  Customer support and customer inquiries are often also an early signal that can drive upsells and cross-sells. 

It is important to keep a look out for the following:

  • When customers need help and why the timing is important to them?
  • What business problems customers are trying to solve, and if there is room to upsell into that need?
  • What customers think about a product or feature, and how your company could tweak its offering to drive more sales with similar customers?
  • Which issues come up regularly so that you can track if those issues lead to customers looking for alternatives?
  • What complaints turn into client churn?

Beyond email support

Sortd’s features go well beyond customer support and it empowers true cross team collaboration.  Team’s use Sortd to manage sales pipelines, order management, finance accounts receivable and payable, customer success and project management etc.  Not only is it a great tool to managing customer-facing work with customers, partners and suppliers but it is powerful for driving sales-enablement and diving internal workflow processes.  Use Sortd’s knowledge base and video library to learn more

Wrapping up

So whether you start out with an email alias, email distribution list, a shared mailbox or Google Group, to truly deliver great customer service you need a tool like Sortd to make your team truly customer centric.  With over 80,000 users, Sortd has proved to be one of a few tools on the market that teams actually use.  

Sortd is built right into Gmail and offers a collaborative email approach.  It brings email and work management into one space.  No more dropped balls and disappointed customers ... but rather clear ownership of customer work, organized teams and fast turnaround time that delivers better results for customer service teams.

Written by
Rodney Kuhn