Why Not to Use a Shared Mailbox for Your Customer Support

Many businesses implement a shared mailbox to manage customer service emails when they’re just starting out. A shared mailbox is an email account that gives multiple users access at the same time to view and send emails. It can initially serve as an easy way to set up and tackle all your customer service emails before you have a dedicated customer service department. Shared mailboxes can work well for a while but will eventually end up having some serious limitations once you start receiving a higher volume of customer emails.

Pitfalls of a shared mailbox

Here are some of the issues you will begin to run into once your shared mailbox starts to get too crowded:

  • Collision: Co-workers reply to the same email at the same time leading to the customer receiving two (most likely inconsistent) responses, while wasting agents’ time.
  • Neglect: The opposite of collision can also happen if one person assumes someone else is handling an email but they are not. Unfortunately, this leaves certain customer emails sitting at the bottom of an inbox.
  • Inefficiency: Customer service agents working with a shared inbox waste up to 20% of their day sifting through customer emails to find the easiest ones to respond to first. We call this cherry picking. This not only wastes agents’ time but also leaves certain customers with more complex issues waiting too long.
  • Lack of context: Agents lack context when viewing a customer email and can waste time searching through email threads to try and gain insight into a customer’s conversation history and their issue.
  • Lost emails: There’s always a risk of emails accidentally getting deleted and lost when using a shared mailbox. This can leave a customer waiting indefinitely unless they decide to reach out again.
  • No collaboration: Agents can’t collaborate with teammates to resolve a customer issue or assign a specific rep to handle the issue. This is limiting and can lead to longer wait times for customers as issues take considerably more time to resolve.

Once you start experiencing the limitations of using a shared mailbox for customer service purposes, it’s time to consider switching to an alternative that is more tailored to specifically managing customer support. Implementing new customer service software, also known as a help desk, can help you better manage your customer service and use your time more efficiently.

Email in a help desk

Switching to a help desk to manage your customer service can resolve almost all of the limitations of a shared mailbox with the exception of one (which we’ll get into later). The main difference between managing your customer service email through a help desk instead of a shared mailbox is that a help desk organizes the status of customer emails and makes it easier to keep track of customer issues and resolve them in a timely manner.

Among many other things, here are the main advantages of switching to a help desk to manage your email support:

  • No collision: Conversations are assigned to agents in most help desks and warn agents when another team member is viewing or replying to a conversation to avoid duplicate replies.
  • Better visibility: Reps are able to easily view the conservation history between a customer and a company while replying to a customer, speeding up average handling time.
  • Analytics: All conversation stats are recorded, giving insight into the number of conversations a team closes daily / weekly / monthly and peak support times.
  • Manage multiple mailboxes: Direct multiple email addresses to a help desk and manage all emails from one platform.
  • Contact recognition: By using a help desk and consolidating your support systems, you can recognize your customers from the start and provide personalized customer service.
  • Notes & tags: Agents have the ability to add internal notes and tags to email conversations with customers to help other agents understand the conversation and its context quicker.
  • Collaboration: Allows agents to work together to resolve customer issues through transferring conversations to a more equipped agent and writing internal notes.
  • Saved responses: Saves time writing the same replies over and over again by inserting common replies instantly.
  • Auto replies: Set up auto-replies to customers once they contact you. This helps manage expectations and can also be used to increase self-service, which decreases customer inquiries.

All of these aspects of email in a help desk help agents work more efficiently, saving them time and effort while also providing better support to customers. Some help desks also have the ability to display order information based on the customer’s phone number or email right inside the platform. This is ideal for reps when handling customer conversations so they have all the relevant information in front of them instantly. Now, there is one last piece of the puzzle that shared mailboxes and help desks are still failing at…

Where help desks & shared mailboxes are still failing

Although help desks make managing email easier, there are still some major issues that occur whether you are using a shared mailbox or a help desk. When an email comes into a help desk, it’s usually assigned a ticket number and then is either manually assigned to an agent or remains unresolved until a rep chooses to answer it. As you can imagine, when a customer service rep has the ability to choose which email they will handle next, it often leads to cherry-picking. The easiest emails get answered first and many customers are left waiting too long for assistance. When designing Dixa, we wanted to make email instant and give customer service reps the opportunity to surprise customers with quick support on email.

The solution: automatic routing for email

To eliminate cherry picking, we decided to route emails directly to agents in Dixa. By treating an email like a phone call, emails are routed to a queue of agents equipped to handle the email and offered to them through a notification to accept or reject. Offers can be distributed to available agents equally as they come in or distributed based on their skills. This ensures that all emails, no matter the complexity, get the attention they deserve from the start. Automatic routing also eliminates the step of manually assigning a ticket to an agent as well as forcing agents to constantly check their inboxes for new emails. It also minimizes the number of clicks necessary to open, reply and close a conversation. We found routing emails in this way helps agents become more efficient and drastically reduces response time (AWT).

The next step…

If you find yourself running into issues managing your email support or simply want to provide your customers with a better email experience, implementing software that routes emails directly to reps is a good place to start. Keep in mind, if you plan to grow your business and maintain excellent customer service every step of the way, it’s vital to switch software before your shared mailbox gets out of control. Waiting too long can lead to poor customer service and damage any existing customer relationships. Lastly, implementing email support software that automatically routes emails directly to agents instead of ticket inboxes will save your support team and your customers time.


Lauren Blair

Lauren Blair Klarskov

Lauren is a California native with a background in ecommerce and fashion, who is passionate about finding the ultimate online shopping experience and unique ways to acquire loyal customers.

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