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A team inbox allows a group of people to access and process emails from one place. Your team collaborates better and your responses to customers or prospects become much faster than before.
Most organizations have team inboxes such as contact@, support@, and sales@ to keep in touch with the outside world; and hr@, tech@, or accounts@ to manage communication within the company.
There is always a group of people responsible for that function who log into team inboxes to process emails — exactly when the problem begins.
When you use Gmail, the most common way of managing team inboxes is — share its credentials with the everyone involved, or give them delegated access. The entire team logs into the same Gmail account to process emails.
Unfortunately, the many-users-inside-one-Gmail-account approach is marred by problems:
All of that happens because Gmail was designed to be used by individuals. Every time you try to use Gmail as a team inbox, you start seeing cracks in the process.
The second option you have is to start using your team inbox as a Google Collaborative Inbox. While this approach does not force everyone to work from inside the same team inbox, it opens up another can of worms.
The Google collaborative inbox does not look anything like the Google apps we are used to. Your team will have to spend considerable time learning how to use it.
Even when your team does get used to it, they'll have to continuously switch between their Gmail and the collaborative inbox — you will waste hours every day.
Other problems you'd face when you use the collaborative inbox:
The worst part is that these tremors are felt far beyond the actual team that struggles.
When you fail to do a good job of managing a customer support team inbox, your replies are slowed down, resolution takes long — making customers wait is a biblical sin.
When you do a poor job at managing a sales team inbox, there would be instances when two salespersons reply to the same email — creates an ugly first impression to the prospect.
We know for sure that Gmail was never designed to help a team collaborate. This is the exact reason we built Hiver — to help teams collaborate without friction.
Hiver will let you manage your team inboxes such as support@ or sales@ right from Gmail.
Every team inbox starts appearing in your left pane inside Gmail. Hiver eliminates the need to log into the team inbox — everything else becomes smoother from here.
Let us tell you how Hiver makes team inboxes more collaborative than ever:
The commonest way of managing a Gmail team inbox is — share account credentials with everyone involved with that function and they log into the account separately.
This approach, unfortunately, does not work for long. Google knows when you have more than a few users logging into a team inbox, and they do not like it. Wondering how they keep an eye on it? All of them have different IP addresses — Google is constantly tracking that.
Eventually, users start getting locked out of the team inbox for as long as 24 hours at a time. Some of them would have access, while others won’t. It’s absolute chaos.
When you start using Hiver, your team gets the ability to manage team inboxes without logging into them.
Here's how the Gmail inbox of a Human Resources professional would look:
Every team inbox you are a part of appears neatly in the left side pane inside Gmail. When nobody logs into the team inbox, nobody gets locked out.
Also, you will never have to switch accounts to manage team inboxes again.
When Gmail becomes too difficult to collaborate on team inboxes, a lot of companies try moving to a help desk solution outside it. This is exactly when an entirely new set of problems start to creep in.
You will have to spend considerable time and money to train your employees so that they get used to the new help desk. Every new member that joins your team will need to be trained to use that help desk. It’s a never-ending problem.
What if you get all the capabilities of a help desk right inside Gmail itself? That is exactly what Hiver does for you. You can manage team inboxes like support, sales, and hiring, right from Gmail.
Assign emails to your team, see their status and the conversation history, email templates, internal chat — with Hiver, teams can use their email to get all this done efficiently, without having to learn and adapt to another set of tools.
It's no secret that email management is a big problem in the present day. Carleton University researchers say people now spend one-third of their time at the office reading and answering emails. That’s 11.7 hours spent at work every week only processing emails.
As far as replying to email goes, well, there isn’t much you can do there. But reading them, which essentially means sifting through emails to see whether they are important or not — there is always some scope for doing this better.
Unfortunately, inside team inboxes, everybody ends up processing a deluge of emails. Even when someone from your team is already working on an email, there is no way for the rest of the team to know it. You will end up processing emails which have been dealt with already. The entire team would have to sift through the same set of emails — your team’s productivity basically takes a huge hit.
Hiver solves that for good — your team inbox' emails are classified into distinct groups: unassigned, mine, team, pending, and closed.
When you enter a team inbox using Hiver, the default view is ‘unassigned’ which will only contain emails that nobody has started working on.
You are saved from sifting through emails that someone else from your team is dealing with already.
There is absolutely no scope for duplication of effort when you Hiver to manage your team inboxes. Think of the kind of time your team will save on a daily basis!
There is nothing worse than missing an important email. A customer emails you seeking help and you somehow forgot to reply. A prospect sends an inquiry and the email goes unattended. A vendor sends you an invoice and you miss it. All of them will make you look incredibly unprofessional, and you lose money one way or the other.
Missing emails is a common problem inside team inboxes. When nobody knows who is supposed to take responsibility for an email, there is always a chance that it will go unattended, more so when you have a lot of emails to deal with.
When you use Hiver to manage your team inbox — like we discussed in the previous point, you get the ‘Unassigned’ tab which contains only those emails that have not been assigned to anyone — there is no way you’d miss an email.
It’s no longer a secret that faster responses to email make a lot of positive impacts, be it support, sales, hiring — you name it.
Inside a team inbox, when an email arrives, it takes a while to establish who has to start working on it — some time goes there. The admin would forward the email to a teammate, they take their own time to see it — more time goes here. If they have a question to ask, they send another email to a teammate — who again takes some time to reply.
Teams are generally slow to reply to emails unless the admin does all replies themselves — which is practically impossible.
All of this changes when you start using Hiver to manage your team inboxes. It is absolutely easy to delegate emails to your teammates. All it takes is two clicks from inside your inbox — that’s it. You do not have to forward emails to delegate them to your teammates.
The teammate you delegate the task to gets an instant notification, inside their inbox, or the browser, or their phone — all of that covered when you have Hiver.
Even when the agent has a question to ask, they can use Hiver’s Email Notes instead of sending an email. Notes are just like chat messages, except they appear right next to your email thread you want to discuss.
Delegation, accountability, and internal communication — when all of them are faster, your team replies to emails faster.
A team inbox is usually a hotbed of chaos and confusion. When an email arrives, nobody knows who has to start working on it. Even when someone does start working on it, the rest of the team will not know about it.
At the same time, there is no way to know whether a task has been completed or not. The replies people send do not come to you unless you are copied on them.
Who’s working on an email, what’ its status — will always be a gray area inside team inboxes. You will have a hard time keeping an eye on your team’s workflow.
When you use Hiver to manage your team inboxes, emails are clearly assigned to individuals and tagged with labels that tell the entire team who’s accountable.
The same applies to the status of the tasks. Users can mark emails Open, Pending, and Closed. This is again visible to the entire team.
You will have a bird’s eye view of the work being done by the team.
At the same time, it makes a huge difference when the entire team has clear insight into what’s going on. They start seeing the bigger picture of things.
Say your customer support team uses a team inbox to handle customer questions. An email arrives, the admin forwards it to one of the agents. The agent realizes they need the product manager’s help to solve the problem. Given that people have a natural tendency to discuss problems on email itself, they send an email to the product manager, who replies with the solution.
All of this happens in the same email thread and there is a very good chance that the support agent replies to the customer on the same thread. Internal discussions leaking to anyone outside the organization will always make you absolutely ugly.
Hiver’s got that covered for you. You can use Hiver’s Email Notes for one to one conversations right alongside the respective email thread. Notes are just like chat messages, except they stay next to the email thread forever.
When team conversations are safely tucked away from emails, chances of them mixing up is zero.
When you run your support or sales via a team inbox, it is absolutely pertinent that you keep a keen eye on how well is the team dealing with emails.
Inside Gmail, you have no way to know how your team deals with emails. For example, if you use the shared account 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 a support or a sales process without knowing how well does your team manage emails is like driving without headlamps — you will come crashing down sooner or later.
All of this changes when you start using Hiver’s to manage team inboxes. You have access to all the number you need, right inside Gmail. The number of conversations your team closes in a day, average time to first response, average time to close, and all the data drilled down to individual team member — all without an excel sheet.
Harsh is the content lead at Hiver. He's jocular, loves dogs, and is always up for a road trip. He also reads sometimes.