The fact is there: today there is an app for everything. Between social media, messaging, live chat and everything in between, communication channels are plethora of. And yet, being present wherever your customers are is indeed fundamental, and allowing yourself to dead ends is a luxury that seems increasingly difficult to afford.
Communicating with them where they are is essential to nurture customer relations, and when negative opinions are shared, to “put out the fire”. However, keeping abreast of everything that is happening everywhere at the same time is in fact quite simply a puzzle, and the efforts made, however substantial they may be, are rarely sufficient. Direct consequence: many comments, mentions, shares and likes escape the cracks.
Faced with this problem, solutions exist which take care of feeding all the information, whatever the channel used, into a universal central inbox, and which thus radically rationalize and optimize monitoring.
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What is a universal inbox?
A universal inbox is an email account that combines a number of accounts into one. It creates a central platform accessible by all employees to which all incoming e-mails are directed, and where, for the most efficient solutions, the publications of the company’s contacts on social networks are also captured.
Instead of constantly switching from one interface to another, teams can access all messages in a single and consistent repository. Beyond this practical aspect, this type of solution brings several benefits for the customer relationship.
The benefits of a universal inbox
1 – Elimination of manual referrals and automatic allocation.
In the absence of a universal mailbox, the manual transfers necessary to redirect messages to the right internal contact from a group address are a waste of time, not to mention “failures”. A universal mailbox completely eliminates manual forwarding and improves responsiveness: it “captures” all incoming messages, then automatically assigns their processing based on predefined forwarding rules. Result: the interlocutor immediately becomes aware of the message, the processing of which can begin more quickly.
2 – Sharing and collaboration.
By “capturing” all the messages on a single platform accessible by all, the universal box creates a collaborative space that shares all of the conversation history. All contextual information is pooled, internal communication streamlined, and effective collaboration can take place to provide the best possible treatment to requests and problems.
3 – Transparency and rigor.
An e-mail sent simultaneously to several internal recipients can quickly become confusing and give rise to procrastination. Unless there is consultation between the parties concerned, there is a risk that it will not ultimately be taken on by anyone, or that it will give rise to several parallel responses. When all the messages are centralized, everyone has visibility on the messages that remain to be processed, on those that have already been processed, as well as on the content of the response. The transparency provided encourages rigorous processing, without the risk of redundant and inconsistent processing.
Before looking at some of the most popular universal inbox solutions, it’s worth taking a look at the capabilities offered by the most popular email tool, Outlook. Because the information is ultimately relatively unknown, but Outlook in fact also offers the possibility of combining several accounts in the same folder.
The Unified Outlook Inbox
If the features offered by Microsoft’s tool do not allow to create a true universal repository, it is relatively easy to configure a personalized unified inbox in Outlook. You just need to:
- Launch the Outlook application.
- Click on the “Folder” tab.
- Click on “New research file”.
- Choose “Create a custom search folder”.
- Under “Customize the search folder”, click on “Choose”.
- Give a name to the unified inbox to create.
- Click on “Browse”.
- Select all the folders to include in the box, then click on “Search in subfolders”.
- Click “OK”, then choose “Yes” in the confirmation dialog box that appears.
- Click “OK” again to create the unified inbox.
The created inbox captures emails from selected folders according to the defined rules. Despite all the value of this free option, it requires manual programming to deliver emails to the right places. And it is also not possible to directly integrate social networks and chats, which can only be done through personalized filters.
Good alternatives, more automated, nevertheless exist.
6 universal messaging apps to compare
1 – HubSpot
The tool Conversations HubSpot offers a universal inbox that centralizes all messages on a single platform, regardless of the channel they use (email, instant messaging, social networks or even bots). Marketing, sales and customer support teams share information within this collaborative space, which provides them with a complete conversation history as well as all the tools they need to effectively manage, track and process all messages, in coordinating their efforts as needed to optimize customer relations. Integrated into the company’s CRM, the history of exchanges is advantageously supplemented by the information stored in the company’s customer / prospect database, for a 360 ° view of the customer context.
The defined transfer rules take care of automatically assigning the processing of each message to the right interlocutor, or even dispatching tasks in a balanced manner within the workforce. Adding notes, labels or actions to incoming messages simplifies and optimizes monitoring and collaborative work, and powerful filters allow you to quickly isolate the conversations you want.
Finally, the templates, the predefined responses and the informative attachments made available in the environment by the Hub Services significantly speed up the response to e-mails, while the database, designed for the creation of a library of support articles, allows the response to be accompanied by useful background content for common questions and problems.
The solution makes it possible to maintain a personalized relationship with its customers and prospects, and to maintain this quality of link despite the multiplication of contacts as the company evolves.
2 – Mailbird
Mailbird is an email client that allows you to synchronize all your email accounts and contacts in a unified inbox. The tool thus facilitates the management of customer conversations within a single and shared environment.
It is also possible to connect other applications, such as Facebook, Twitter, Google Calendar, Asana and many others, for a fully omnichannel experience. The many themes available make it possible to customize the interface to their liking, and the user can also in particular carry out research on LinkedIn directly from the application and prioritize the processing of his messages with the on-hold function.
3 – ClientFlow
ClientFlow facilitates internal collaboration and dialogue with its customers by unifying email accounts and consolidating exchanges on a shared platform. The solution supports the attribution of conversations to team collaborators, allows comments to be added to exchanges and optimizes email status monitoring, to name just its main features. This all-in-one tool improves team productivity in a simple and efficient way.
4 – Spark
Spark offers a whole series of tools that optimize the processing of e-mails in collaborative mode. The solution makes it possible in particular to delegate tasks, set deadlines for their completion, monitor their progress and automatically alert when the task is completed. A real-time editor coupled with a chat function makes it possible to write e-mails to several while exchanging during the writing process. Plus, the ability to save and share pre-written email templates speeds up response to frequently asked questions.
5 – Front
Forehead allows you to manage all your emails on a single collaborative platform. And the solution goes beyond electronic messaging, in particular by also centralizing chats, SMS and Facebook and Twitter messages. An integrated shared agenda also optimizes planning and simplifies the organization of meetings. Front supports a wide variety of integrations, with corporate CRM and over 50 other applications, and is a complete solution.
6 – Winter
Winter is a solution specifically designed for Gmail, which allows teams to create and manage shared mailboxes, such as “support @” or “sales @” in the Google email environment. The app makes it easy to delegate tasks and track their progress, while ad hoc metrics provide a precise view of productivity. Teams can easily discuss their internal conversations there, using the sharing of notes and a chat function.
- Price: starting at $ 7 / month
To go further, download this free communication plan template for deliver your message effectively to your audience.