Move from a Shared Email Inbox to a Customer Support Solution

Is it time for you to switch from a Gmail business email to a social help desk? This guide breaks the research down and makes it easy for you to find the right social help desk for your business.


Is a shared Email Inbox Enough for your Business?

If you’re a company in its early stages, you may have used (or still use today) a single email inbox to handle customer support. Customers questions get pushed to a single support email address - most likely to a Gmail account - where team members would login, field some questions and continue to check it throughout the day. This is what we call a “Shared Email Inbox” for customer service. It’s easy, free and can be effective when your company is just starting out.

However, a Shared Email Inbox has an expiration date. As a company’s customer base grows, inquiries pile into the support queue. Early stage support teams can become overwhelmed by this influx, resulting in multiple people answering the same emails or emails going entirely unanswered. Today’s customers now expect fast, seamless support across all communication channels, which a Shared Email Inbox system can’t support.

This guide will outline best practices for moving off of a Shared Email Inbox to a customer support solution, like, and how making this transition can help increase the speed, organization and overall quality of your customer service team.

The Five Signs you’ve out grown a Shared Email Inbox

As your customer base grows, using a Shared Email Inbox for customer support can become chaotic as more questions come pouring in. Here are 5 signs that you may need to look for an alternative solution:

Support Agents Are Working on the Same Emails

One of the earliest signs that you have outgrown a Shared Email Inbox is when support agents start working on the same emails - essentially responding to a customer at the same time, often with different answers. At, we call this “Agent Collision.” Agent Collision indicates that there is a lack of organization and clarity within your support queue.

Unfortunately, if this problem occurs often, it can harm productivity as well as upset customers and agents alike. It’s a good indication that you need a support solution in place that can organizes all incoming cases so that support agents can focus more on providing a great customer experience.

Email Folders Have Grown Out of Control

Teams that use a Shared Email Inbox typically use Gmail folders for organizing cases into categories. Although this can be automated to have incoming cases automatically routed to particular folders, the functionality is still pretty limited. Without a system that assigns an owner to support emails based on priority, agent availability and expertise, you can run into the risk of overlapping emails, or even worse, dropped customer questions.

Customers Are Complaining That You’re Too Slow When Responding to their Questions

Today’s customers are putting more and more pressure on organizations to respond to support emails in a timely manner. Delayed response times can happen for a number of reasons:

  • Teams may not be able to easily assign cases or communicate ownership, which means it’s not always clear who is stepping in to accept and resolve a case.
  • Lack of access to customer history and records, as well as a knowledge base of answers to common questions.
  • Email doesn’t permit accountability and measurement.

Customers Are Starting to Move Away from Email

Email is, and has been for a number of years, a very important communication channel when it comes to customer support. In the early stages of a company, using single email inbox for support can be a great way to field customer questions.

However, consumers are becoming increasingly sporadic with their communication channels - namely moving to social media to complain or elsewhere when they can’t get the answer to their question fast enough. In fact according to Forrester, 75% of the time, customers will move to another channel if they are unable to find answers to their questions via the first channel. Support teams not only need to be prepared for customers’ constant movement, they need to have a process in place that isn’t fragmented and allows agents to be fast and agile across multiple channels.

Emails Are Getting Buried and It’s Tough to Find Past Interactions

One of the most significant complications of using a Shared Email Inbox for customer support is how easily you can lose track of past conversations. Emails get buried, lost, deleted or agents get removed from email chains. Over time, these situations will pop up more as customer questions continue to pour in and workflows become more complicated. Unfortunately, a Shared Email Inbox is not reliable and these limitations become exponentially more painful as your customer base grows.

What Is a Customer Support Solution? is’s all-in-one customer support solution for SMBs and fast-growing companies - the primary solution for organizations that outgrow their Shared Email Inbox. When your company moves away from a Shared Email Inbox to a customer support solution, such as, you can expect to not only streamline your current email process, but find clarity through beautiful organization and speed through automated workflows. manages customer emails or inquiries by creating what is known as a “case.” When a customer submits an email to your dedicated support email address, that email is immediately turned into a case where it is neatly organized and track within’s Universal Inbox. A case is simply a record of all conversations between a specific customer and the agent (or team) - sort of like an email chain. It keeps everything centralized in one place and can be tracked by the account owner from start to finish. As customer, Patrick Cheeseman, Head of Customer Support from HotelTonight explains it: “Desk gives us that beacon of information. It's the central point of anything support related.”

With a single email inbox alone for customer support, you are basically fielding questions as they come in. You have no visibility into how individual agents are handling questions or where support questions may be coming in from outside of email. A customer support solution, such as, provides that visibility as well as allows teams to automate many of their support processes.

Finally... Clarity and Organization

When a rapidly-growing team is using a Shared Email Inbox for customer support, one of the first things to go is organization. What started off as a simple way to answer support requests soon turns into utter chaos as your customer base grows, the inbox swells with emails, and you start losing track of past interactions. Fortunately, the very first item provides to new users is organization and clarity of all incoming support requests thanks to Case Filters and a Universal Inbox.

Welcome to the Universal Inbox

When a customer email is sent to your support email address, it is forwarded along to’s cloud-based servers where it shows up in your Universal Inbox as an unsolved case.

This is where multichannel support becomes extremely easy because now agents can view and respond to customer questions, from multiple communication channels, all from one inbox. No more switching windows or tools to keep up with customer questions.

View Your Workload At a Single Glance with Case Filters

There is nothing that slows an agent down more than a long list of cases in one large inbox - as seen within a single support email inbox. Not only that, a long list doesn’t give them the visibility they need to understand their day’s workload. Case Filters are like folders or buckets that store specific cases based upon the criteria of your choosing. Think of them as multiple inboxes for your incoming cases.

There are a number of Case Filters that you can build:

  • Status: Create a Case Filter that has all of your “Open” or “Pending” cases.
  • VIP Customers: Some customers may deserve a little more white-glove treatment than others - create a filter for them!
  • Specific Questions: Many of our customers - especially retail organizations - separate cases by certain questions which may include lost passwords, shipping inquiries or billing questions.
  • Time-Based: Make sure initial touches are always prompt by creating Case Filters based off of the amount of time a case has been left marked as “Open.”

The key way to tame chaos is with task management. Unfortunately, as we have already discussed, a single email inbox’s capabilities are simply too limited to provide a good task management system. By switching your customer support to a better solution such as, you can seal the cracks that cause disorder among your agents and customers.

Sitting in the Driver’s Seat

When you drill down into an unresolved case within, you may immediately notice your console has far more functionalities than that of a Gmail or typical email inbox. It’s time to take a look at what a case looks like when a support agent is interacting with a customer.

Customer & Company Information

Say hello to personalized customer support! Rather than associating a customer with a simple email address, agents get a full 360-degree view of who they are talking to at all times. Right off the bat, you can see your customer’s smiling face within the Case View. From there you can drill down to find a multitude of information about your customer including: past or pending cases, contact and company data, even personal social accounts.

Easily Assign Cases to Agents and Groups

No more manually dragging and dropping emails into folders that lead to nowhere or forwarding to another department. Easily assign cases to the right agent or group to ensure it doesn’t fall through the cracks.

Responding to Cases Is As Easy As Open and Shut

Responding to a customer is just as simple as writing back to them using Gmail. When you want to respond to the customer, simply answer their question, make any necessary changes and click the “Update” button in the lower right hand corner. This will update the case with all the changes you’ve made and send the reply to the customer. When you feel the case is closed, hit the Resolve button and watch it disappear from your Universal Inbox - don’t worry though, always keep track of it!

Personalize Customer Experiences

Customers never like to explain themselves twice, and agents don’t like to be in the dark about a customer's history. With a Shared Email Inbox, agents have very few resources to keep track of customers or previous interactions with them. Gmail enables third-party apps such as Rapportive to access contact information right inside your inbox, but this information is limited and completely divorced from the customer’s support issues. Without integration between this data and past interactions, agents are flying blind and could potentially waste time relearning the customer and their previous issues.

With a customer support solution such as, support agents are provided with quality data so that they can deliver personalized, amazing customer experiences.

Know the Customer, Know their Problems

In order to deliver service that garners high satisfaction scores, agents must have easy access to all customer and history information so that they are able to quickly understand the situation and provide a personalized experience.

Fortunately, a customer support solution such as provides customer histories as well as past interactions; which are easily accessible to agents as they are working a case. This gives agents full confidence - they know who the customer is and whether the person is a new, repeat or VIP customer. Agent will have a leg up on providing superior customer service by quickly getting straight to the heart of the matter rather than wasting time (and the customer’s patience) trying to get to know them.

Align Sales and Service with Salesforce Integration

With Salesforce information embedded in each case, it's easier than ever to deliver a consistent, personalized experience to the customer. users can see and act on important customer information from Sales Cloud when working on cases - without ever leaving Not only that, sales teams can fully understand their customer when

Get Rolling With Fast Customer Support

Fast customer service is what’s going to separate your business from the rest of the competition. According to Forrester Research, 71% of customers believe that valuing their time in a support situation was the most important thing that a company could do to provide them with good customer service. Once your support team is organized and support agents are providing quality experiences, it’s time to start providing fast customer service.

Stop Bumping Into Each Other with Agent Collision Detection

Agent collision - or agents responding to the same case - can be a huge problem when using a single email inbox for support. Other than upsetting the customer, having multiple agents respond to the same case can harm your agent's productivity. Rest assured that with’s Agent Collision Detection, multiple support agents are never working on the same case at the same time. This tool notifies agents when another agent is typing a response, so that they know when to act or not act.

Speed Through Repetitive Questions with Macros or Precanned Responses

To support agents, customer service can seem like a monotonous job when they’re replying to the same questions multiple times a day. With Gmail, you can copy and paste responses from past cases - but this often becomes cumbersome and not always worth the effort. Fortunately, with, agents can rely on Macros - or

Automate Support Workflows with Business Rules

One of the greatest benefits to moving from a Shared Email Inbox to a customer support solution is the ability to automate workflows to complete repetitive tasks and speed up processes. With’s Business Rules, teams can create an “automated support machine” that automatically routes, assigns, notifies agents or even resolves cases - speeding up your support and allowing agents to concentrate on WOWing the customer. Below are some examples of automated workflows that customers are using with Business Rules:.

Use Reporting to Measure Success and Grow

Without a customer support solution, fully understanding your support organization’s strengths and weaknesses is nearly impossible to track. For instance, you might want to know how many tickets came in over the past week about a specific issue; or how many cases were created last month versus how many were actually solved. What’s really going to set you apart from your competition as your business grows is measuring your team’s performance. Simply answering an email and waiting for the next one is not enough to help you understand where your strengths and weaknesses may lie.’s Business Insights is an advanced analytics tool created to help businesses make better decisions about their support processes. You can easily track the performance of your customer support teams right down to the individual agent as well as analyze how well customers are being supported on every channel.

Some of the pre-built reports include:

  • Overview Report: Get an at-a-glance view of your entire support operation to understand how many cases you have received, from what channels they came from and how fast your support agents acted on them.
  • Agent Performance Reports: Agent performance reports are focused on the actions performed by specific agents on your team. See how many cases they opened, resolved, replied to, reassigned or reopened.
  • Groups Report: When your team grows to a point where it needs to be broken up into task forces, use Group Reports to see which ones are effective and which ones may require more training.
  • Labels Report: Use Labels to categorize cases into groups then use a Labels Report to measure them.
  • Macros Report: Take a look at how many Macros your organization is using. If one Macro is being used too much, you may want to consider self-service options so customers can solve questions themselves.’s Business Insights is a great tool but only useful when it is put into practice and constantly regulated. Create a series of support goals and regularly meet with your team to check on saved reports and see if you are hitting them. Also consider meeting with support agents on a weekly basis and coach them by using Agent Performance Report and showing them areas where they can improve.

What Else Do You Get with

There is no question that moving from a Shared Email Inbox to a customer support solution will streamline your team’s email process. However the true value not only lies in the improvements that you will undoubtedly see with email support, it lies with the overall development of your customer service. With a customer support solution such as, your organization’s team will open new doors to providing incredible service to your customers.

Discover Multichannel Support

Today’s consumers are restless and as your customer base grows, they’re not going to stick with email for too long. You need a customer support solution that will handle communication channels on multiple fronts so that your team is agile and nothing falls through the cracks.’s Universal Inbox brings in customer inquiries from multiple channels so that your support team can operate on one single platform.

Build Your Own, Fully Branded Self-Service Site

If you’re having problems with too many customer questions and not enough personnel on the team, you might want to consider self-service support. provides customers with the ability to easily create their own fully-branded self-service support site - no IT, no messy CSS. Cut down case volumes with your company’s own fully-branded self-service site. customer, SoundCloud, was able to effectively field the 110% growth of their customers thanks to a thriving Online Support Center.

5 Steps on Getting Set Up In the Next Hour

Moving from a Shared Email Inbox to is an easy process, and the best part is, your customers will notice a higher quality of support, faster responses and an overall better customer service experience.

  1. Visit and sign up for a free trial
  2. You can use your current support email address or we can provide you your own
  3. Invite other team members to use
  4. Hook up your social channels - Twitter and Facebook
  5. Start fielding incoming cases!

Migrating from Gmail or an email inbox is simple and the results are amazing. If you have any questions about setting up your free trial, don’t hesitate to email our famous Customer WOW team at

62% of support teams reported spending only 1-3 days fully deploying throughout their entire organization.
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