When it comes to transactional communication, nothing beats the capabilities of email. And in the corporate world, Microsoft Office 365 and Outlook dominate the landscape for email.

Many organizations rely on “functional” addresses for emails to specific teams within their workforce. Addresses such as customerservice@, info@, billing@ or support@ have become the digital front door of the business for customer service.

But what happens to emails sent to those addresses? How many people are answering those emails? What is the process for assigning, distributing and managing those team emails?

With email systems designed for individual email, there are typically several gaps in the process. On the one hand, some organizations assign an individual to receive all the team emails, read them, decide who should answer each, and forward them accordingly. Alternatively, the team inbox might appear as a folder in everyone’s Outlook client, and management relies on trust – or luck – to ensure that every email is answered exactly once.

Here are four things to think about when it comes to improving your customer service:

  1. Assignment and distribution

In the first scenario painted above, we are making very unproductive use of one person’s time, spent reading email that is destined for somebody else. In the second scenario of lots of hands in the same cookie jar, we run the risk that either an email will be missed and the customer will not receive a reply at all, or that more than one reply is sent and the customer may get conflicting responses to the same question. In either case, the customer is likely to be left feeling disappointed with the lack of efficiency in the team.

With the right solution in place, intelligent automated assignment of incoming messages means that they are only distributed to the agents that are available to respond, and no agent will have an overwhelming number of messages in their to-do pile. If an inbound message is a follow-up to a previous communication, the system should recognize this and direct the message to the agent that has already been dealing with the issue.

 

 

  1. Workflow

Ensuring that the message is assigned and distributed appropriately is much more than simply a distribution list. A good solution should ensure a comprehensive and customizable set of rules based on the nature of the inbound message: who it’s from, what it’s about, whether it’s marked as urgent, what time it was sent, and so on.

And, if a message goes unanswered for too long, it would be really helpful for the system to send send a message to supervisors and managers so that corrective action can be taken before the issue becomes a crisis.

 

  1. Reporting

With most office email systems, including Microsoft Office 365, there’s no facility for a supervisor or manager to look into a team inbox to see what’s going on. A real-time view of the flow of messages would help inform immediate decisions about task allocation for staff (for example, in a team where duties are shared between answering team emails, processing orders, and following up on internal inquiries) to ensure the service level agreements (SLAs) for email response are not breached. In the absence of such a view, an SLA for email is not supportable with evidence.

Equally, if managers are able to call up a historical view of team performance, either looking at the team inbox as a whole, or at individual team members, this enables them to make strong evidence-based decisions on matters including staff coaching or training needs, workforce scheduling improvements, or (for those where incenting staff through gamification is an option) providing a definitive record of competitive results.

 

  1. Familiarity

While there are many team email solutions that provide some of these functions, almost all of them dictate that the users learn a new user environment, and your emails will leave the corporate messaging structure of Office 365. It would be great if they didn’t have to do that. For agents who have a workflow that includes non-team-related email, keeping everything in Office 365 and Outlook means they’re not forever switching between multiple applications to handle different parts of their workload.

With these four advantages locked in, why not take advantage of Emailgistics today? Take a 14 day no-obligation free trial and see how you can supercharge your Office 365 team inbox!