How to Enforce Timely Responses By a Team When Using a Shared Mailbox

For some companies, timely responses are important but when several employees are using a single Outlook shared mailbox to deal with customer inquiries, it can be a problem because users have difficulty determining who “owns” a particular email or even if anyone in the company has responded.

Additionally, while users who have access to a shared mailbox can see if anyone has read the email, they can’t tell who. And sometimes, users might easily miss emails that are marked as read, thinking they themselves were perhaps the ones who read it and boom – emails go unanswered.

One way to help fix these two problems is by using the desktop Timed Email Organizer add-in in combination with Outlook categories.

You can begin by assigning each team member a color category. You can even use that person’s name as the category. Then if any of the emails in the shared mailbox have that team member’s category, everyone knows that they are responsible for that email (and any corresponding replies). With this technique, users can self-assign an email to themselves with their category, or a manager can assign emails to individuals using their category.

But knowing that many of you receive heaps of emails, how do we prevent emails from slipping through the cracks and going unanswered? You could just go and manually look every five minutes or every hour – until that becomes so tedious that it gets forgotten about. Using the Timed Email Organizer add-in, you can have the add-in look for any emails that do not have a category and are say, over an hour old (or a day, or what have you) and do something with it – including giving it another category called “Unassigned” so that a manager can assign it to someone or so that employees can grab it and assign it to themselves.

The last problem with this scenario is to make sure that emails are actually responded to, and not just assigned to someone. For this, we can use Timed Email Organizers ability to determine which emails have not been responded to within the last hour (or day, or whatever your Service Level Agreement (SLA) standard is) and have it do something with the email – anything from forwarding the email to a manager to marking the email with a “Late Response” category.

Finally, when an employee is done with the email thread, it can either be archived out of the shared mailbox or marked with a “Closed” category so that everyone knows that no further action on that email chain is necessary.

So now you know one of the ways to get better organized with Timed Email Organizer when using a shared mailbox.  Happy emailing!