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Collaboration & Productivity
Google Collaborative Inbox: 7 Reasons You Should Not Use It + Alternatives

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Google Collaborative Inbox: 7 Reasons You Should Not Use It + Alternatives

Oct 18, 2022
9 min read
Hiver HQ
Harsh Vardhan

Table of contents

Email plays a crucial role in team collaboration and overall business communication. A staggering 72% of adults prefer to interact with brands and retailers through email, according to a study by the research firm Marketing Sherpa.

Naturally so, teams strive hard to be efficient at managing group emails.

But, the unfortunate truth is that you cannot solely rely on email in its original form. It lacks basic collaborative features such as assigning, delegating, and tracking the progress of tasks.

Companies therefore turn to G Suite/Gmail’s Collaborative Inbox when they hit this roadblock. Why? Because it’s a Google product and people expect it to work like Gmail.

Unfortunately, it’s just a stop-gap arrangement. Let’s see how.

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What is the Google Collaborative Inbox in Google Groups?

Google Groups Collaborative Inbox, as the name suggests, is a Google product to help teams distribute and track responsibility for emails that come to team inboxes like [email protected] or [email protected]

Why do we need a solution to manage group emails? Because Email was designed for personal use. When you want to distribute and share responsibility among team members, Gmail does not really do a great job at it. 

The only way you can share information or collaborate with others are traditional features like CCs, BCCs, FWDs — it’s no secret that they bloat inboxes and confuse people.

It hurts even more because we’re already struggling to manage emails every day.

A few stats about the use of email by professionals

As a result, a lot of Google Workspace (formerly G Suite) admins turn to the Google Collaborative Inbox, because — it is made by Google. And they make awesome products. But, not this one.

When you start to use Collaborative Inbox, the first thing you will realize is that it is not collaborative at all.

What are the biggest issues with Google Collaborative Inbox?

1. Your team will struggle to use the Google Collaborative Inbox

The Google Collaborative Inbox UI looks nothing like Gmail. It was not designed to work as an email client in the first place. It’s an entirely new interface which looks completely different from any other Google application.

Google Groups Collaborative Inbox UI

Your team will have to spend a lot of time just getting used to it. The UI is not intuitive like Gmail (I love Gmail. I am sure you do too!).

On top of that, they will have to keep swapping between their Gmail inbox and the Google Collaborative Inbox — there is a good chance a few emails will fall through the cracks.

Switching inboxes is also a big distraction for your team. And, according to this study, the cost of distraction is huge:

The cost of distraction during work

2. There is no way to sync your emails seamlessly

When your team uses Google Collaborative inbox for a scenario like, say, customer support, ensuring that your emails are always synced, and up-to-date is of utmost importance.

Unfortunately, this doesn’t always happen with the Google Collaborative Inbox. To maintain inbox sync, your team members would have to remember always to CC the Google Collab inbox email ID while replying to their customers.

If they skip doing this or even inadvertently forget to do this, the email will not show up in the Collab inbox. And this could be a critical point of failure because your team members won’t even know of the existence of these emails.

This, of course, would lead to a loss of accountability and perhaps a barrage of unhappy customers.


3. Internal communication becomes a hassle

No matter which team you are a part of – sales or customer service, seamless team collaboration is crucial to getting work done effectively.

Sometimes you’ll even have to collaborate with other departments for various reasons. However, for Google’s Collaborative Inbox users, neither internal nor cross-functional collaboration is easy. You mostly have to rely on long email threads, CCs, and forwards. Too many emails!

4. You will have a hard time finding the status of emails

Let’s assume you’re doing customer support from Gmail and you start using the Google Collaborative Inbox.

An email arrives and one of your teammates replies to the customer from their personal inbox. Unless that person has copied the group email address in the reply, you will not be aware of that. Nobody in the team will know that the email has been replied to.

Let’s say that person did remember to copy the group email address in the reply, but the customer does a ‘reply’ and not ‘reply all’ — it again comes to just one person.

You and the rest of the team will always be in the dark about the status of emails.

5. There’s enormous room for duplication of work

When you and your team don’t know if an email has been replied to, there is a good chance someone else might start working on it.

Imagine you’re running a sales team using the Google Collaborative Inbox and two sales executives end up replying to the same prospect. You’ve ruined your first impression right there. For all you know, you’d lose the client for being unprofessional.

The same applies to customer support teams. An email arrives and two people start working on it at the same time. And then, both of them reply to the same customer — you’re essentially saying the same thing to the customer twice.

Even when you’ve assigned the email to an individual, the rest of the team would not know about it. To them, the email looks unattended unless they see a reply.

6. You will have to deal with a lot more emails

A good team tool should make it easy for people to communicate and collaborate. They should be able to exchange information without writing more emails.

But, inside a Google Collaborative Inbox, the only way to communicate with a teammate is by writing more emails.

Have a question to ask? Send an email, and you get a reply via email. Have a status update to ask? Send an email, and you again get a reply via email.

Basically, when you use the Google Collaborative Inbox, the only way you can exchange information with someone is by email — which unnecessarily clogs up everyone’s inboxes, and slows down teamwork.


7. You’ll not be able to measure team performance

When you run your support or sales from the Google Collaborative Inbox, it is absolutely important that you know how well is the team dealing with emails.

Inside a Google Collaborative Inbox, if you’re looking to monitor team performance, all you’d know is the number of emails received and sent.

You have no way to know how your team deals with emails. For example, if you use the Google Collaborative Inbox to manage support, you will have no answers to (a) average first response time, (b) average time to close a ticket, or (c) who in your team needs more training.

Running support or sales without knowing how well does your team manage emails is like driving a car with your eyes shut.

Well, the hard truth is that the Google Collaborative Inbox is completely unsuited for doing sales or support, or anything that requires your team to collaborate.

And that is why we built Hiver.

How Hiver helps you achieve seamless team collaboration

Hiver has an answer to every Google Collaborative Inbox shortcoming. Allow me to run you through them.

Manage shared email accounts right from Gmail

When you use Hiver, you can create shared inboxes for your email accounts such as [email protected], [email protected], or [email protected]

And you can manage these shared inboxes from your Gmail inbox itself. You will no longer have to log into an alien interface like the Google Collaborative Inbox.

You can use Hiver’s shared inboxes right from Gmail

You’d love this: When you use Hiver, there’s no limit to the number of users you can add to a shared inbox. Google, otherwise, does not allow more than 25 users to access a shared Gmail account.

Effortlessly delegate emails to your team (without forwarding)

Hiver lets you delegate emails to your teammates without having to forward them. All it takes is two clicks from the Gmail sidebar.

Your teammate can start replying to that email thread the moment you assign it to them. You do not even have to CC them.


Know email status in a jiffy

Every time you want to know what happened to an email you had assigned to someone, you will not have to send another email reminder.

Hiver tells you the status of every email in your shared mailbox: open, pending, or closed. It is again visible to everyone who is a part of the shared inbox.

Unlike the Collaborative Inbox, you will have access to replies your team sends even when you’re not copied on them.

Prevent ugly collisions and work duplication

When you assign an email to someone, everyone who is a part of that shared inbox can see that. The entire team will clearly know WHO is working on WHAT.

Inside a Hiver shared inbox, emails are classified into distinct groups: unassigned, mine, team, pending, and closed.

When you enter a shared inbox, the default view is ‘unassigned’ which will only contain emails that nobody has started working on. You can go ahead and assign them to your team.

There is no room for confusion or duplication of work.

With Hiver’s Collision Alerts, you can avoid confusion or duplication of work

Make internal discussions easy

Hiver lets your team communicate with each other using Email Notes which are like chat messages that appear right beside the email thread.

Use Hiver’s Email Notes to give context to team members regarding a task

Using notes, you can communicate with anyone who’s a part of the shared inbox. Notes come in handy for a host of things:

    • You want to broadcast a question to everyone in the group. Start the note with @all and it will notify everyone in the group. Anyone in the group can now reply to your note.
    • You want to reach out to a specific person. Start the note with @name and only that person will get notified. You can now exchange messages with that person like you would on personal chat.
    • You want to add some context or learning to the email which you think might come in handy in the future. Just write it and it will stay alongside the email.

Basically, you and your team write fewer emails when you use Hiver’s Notes. You can completely eliminate internal emails if you use Notes the right way.

Harness the power of reporting and analytics

When you run your support or sales from Gmail, it is absolutely pertinent that you keep a keen eye on how well is the team dealing with emails.

Inside Hiver’s analytics, you have access to all vital customer support metrics, right inside your inbox.

You can track your team’s performance with Hiver’s Analytics

And a lot more!

With Hiver, you also get the ability to:

    • Automate key actions like assigning emails and live chat messages based on preset rules.
    • Save combinations of email filters as Views (such as all emails from Austria that Cynthia is yet to work on)
    • Save canned responses as Email Templates. Embed into responses easily, and share with your team.
    • Collaborate on your email responses by sharing email drafts. Write a response, have a colleague review in real-time. 

Learn more about Hiver

Hiver is the world’s first customer service software exclusively designed for Google Workspace. To see how it can streamline your team’s workflows and enhance efficiency, you can either:

Harsh is the content lead at Hiver. He's jocular, loves dogs, and is always up for a road trip. He also reads - when Netflix gets boring.

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