Email Best Practices to Save Time & Increase Client Satisfaction — On-Demand Webinar

Learn to take the headache out of managing client email so your team can stay organized, respond quickly, and provide excellent service.

Managing email amongst a large team can be difficult, especially when dealing with waiting clients and the pressure to respond to a mass amount of emails in a timely manner. The way in which you and your team manage email can either make or break the success of your daily workflow. 

Using email management software is a great way to improve your team’s success. Palo Alto Software’s very own CEO, Sabrina Parsons, and Outpost’s Marketing Manager, Jonathan Michael, got together to demonstrate how a tool like Outpost can help with email best practices that will save time and increase customer satisfaction. Watch or read more below!

Webinar recording

Your whole firm working together in Outpost

Most firms struggle to manage their accounting@ inboxes and never-ending client email. Missed messages, duplicate replies, and inbox confusion are common because traditional email wasn’t designed for teams. That’s why we built Outpost: to make managing client email truly collaborative.

With Outpost, your team can work together in the same inbox, without sharing passwords or stepping on each other’s toes. Outpost is simple because shared email should be.

Take the pain out of managing client email so your whole firm can see everything in one place, respond quickly, focus on billable work, and provide excellent service.

If you’re interested, you can start a free trial of Outpost today, or schedule a custom tour to learn how Outpost will help you save time and get more done.

Webinar transcript

Original presentation date — October 23

Title: Email Best Practices to Save Time & Increase Client Satisfaction

Description:

Learn how to take the headache out of managing client email so your whole team can stay organized, respond to clients quickly, focus on billable work, and provide excellent service. In this one-hour webinar, you’ll learn time-saving methods to cut down on how much time you spend on email, plus we’ll highlight how one accounting firm created a smoother client onboarding process and increased their team’s efficiency.

Sabrina: (00:00)

Thank you so much. We’re really happy to be here today and be here with all of you. Some of you are in your morning and it looks like from where you’re located, a lot of you are already in the afternoon. So, happy Friday. And thank you for spending time with us. Jonathan’s going to run the presentation or we’re going to work together here.

I want to encourage everybody to ask as many questions as you have in that questions panel. We also have additional support from Peter Thorsson, from our company to help answer all those questions, and periodically Jonathan and I are going to be helping each other out and we’ll potentially grab one of those questions and talk about it to the whole audience. So just, you know, don’t be shy, put those questions in there if you have it, it’s very likely that other people have it and it helps make sure that you’re getting the content that you want and that you need by asking for those questions.

Jonathan: (01:05)

Yes. Hello everyone. And thank you for joining us.

Sabrina: (01:11)

Palo Alto Software is the company behind LivePlan and Outpost. We’ve partnered and teamed up with CPA Academy for quite a few years now. Love CPA Academy and Scott and his team. Most of it has been with LivePlan and our Strategic Advising platform. And that may be where you all have heard of us. But today we’re going to talk about email and how you can be more efficient with your email to retain clients and keep your team members collaborating and working efficiently.

And we’re gonna talk about that in the context of a product that we built: Outpost. It’s actually a product that we’ve had for a very long time. Although initially, it was an internal product that we built for ourselves to solve our email problems. Enough people we talked to had the same issues that we actually productized it and put it out there for anyone to use.

Sabrina: (02:14)

But it’s all about keeping focused on customer satisfaction, client retention, and just being more efficient and working together as a team internally to answer customer emails without having to jump through a bunch of hoops. So that’s kind of the background for Outpost. So how are you going to increase team efficiency?

There are some basic ways that you want to increase your team efficiency. None of this is brain surgery, right? But the biggest thing is you’ve got to think about it and you kind of have to put a plan in place and some process in order to be efficient. So the first thing obviously is to think about the organization. How are you going to organize how emails get answered? And I don’t just mean personally for yourself, right? I have emails that come into my email address, sabrina@paloalto.com. I have my own system and my own process to organize those emails.

Sabrina: (03:13)

Those are things that I’m dealing with, you know, emails from employees, from partners, from customers, and they’re coming directly to me and I might have to deal with them, or I might have to ask team members questions. But those are not emails that are generally coming into the company, from customers because they have some general questions or, areas of questions, right? We have those at Palo Alto Software as well.

If you go to our website, you’ll find all kinds of different email addresses that you can use to reach us. You can find us at help@liveplan.com, bizdev@paloalto.com, media@paloalto.com, info@paloalto.com, all kinds of what we would call shared email addresses, and inboxes. No, those are the ones that really take more organization. Also when we’re working with partners or you’re working with clients, cause it’s very similar. You need to organize who’s in charge, right?

Sabrina: (04:22)

Are you the account manager? Is somebody else the account manager? And you need to think through when that client is emailing, what happens when? What, happens when the account manager is sick? What happens when the account manager is on vacation? What happens when the account manager needs help from somebody else on the team? Do they forward that email asks for help, wait for the response.

Do they forward the email and say, Hey, please respond to the client directly and CC me? Are you finding that that’s part of the process. And if that’s your process, how do you make sure that things are actually dealt with? Maybe your team member forgets to CC you or BCC you, or maybe you have some internal threads that go back and forth when you’re trying to deal with the client, and then the client gets a response and oops, we forgot to take the internal threads out, organizing and thinking through your process is a very important part of efficiency.

Sabrina: (05:21)

A lot of times, things just organically happen in a company and in a firm. And nobody actually goes back and says, wait a minute, do we have the best system? So that’s the number one thing. What is the system? What is the process? Have you talked about that? As you think about that, how are you going to collaborate and delegate if you’re one of those smaller firms and you’re the owner, are you just taking all of it? Or, like I often say, sometimes the firm owner needs to feel a sense of oversight, right?

It’s their firm. They want to make sure their clients are taken care of well. And so what they say is CC me or BCC me on every single response. Great. You get the oversight and then your inbox becomes overwhelming. Is that the best way to collaborate, or are you just not able to actually delegate because you’re missing some of that oversight? Things to really think about. Have you set goals for response times at your firm or have somebody else, do you actually have a specific written out goal?

Sabrina: (06:30)

We will respond to our clients within four business hours, 24 business hours, 48 business hours. Or do you just cross your fingers and hope for the best? If you can actually set goals for response times and then have a process to track that goal and those response times, you will see where you need to gain efficiencies. You will see where there might be holes in your system. You will also make clients happier.

Clients want responses. They don’t want to wait. And they also don’t want to sometimes get responded to right away. And other times have to wait three days. If you’re going to be working with clients and doing the work that you all do, it’s very likely that you get a lot of similar questions from your clients as year-end comes. They’re probably asking a lot of similar questions. You also may need to send out emails that are very similar.

Sabrina: (07:23)

How are you doing this? Do you have email frequently asked question templates? And if you do, where do they live? Do you have your own templates and other team members have different templates? Do you share those templates? How do you collaborate on those templates? Keep them up to date and make sure that they’re worded in the best possible way with the right voice and tone for your firm.

Really a big part of team efficiency. And in order to do all of this, you really going to have to use the right tools. What are you using to answer all your client email? Are you using Gmail? Are you using Outlook? Are you using a different client? Do you have a CRM system? Are you using practice management, but finding that you still have other emails that live outside of that practice management solution, and you’re not sure how to deal with that.

Sabrina: (08:17)

We’re going to talk a little bit about the right tools and how you can be efficient. Also, if you happen to be offering services to your clients where you’re answering all of their accounting related emails, right? We know a lot of firms will pick the entire part of the bookkeeping business for their clients. And they’re answering that email address, you know, accounting or billing@mysmallbusinessclient.com. How do you handle that? Do you log into their email? Do you have credentials for them? How do you deal with that? We’re going to talk about that as well.

Jonathan: (08:56)

And Sabrina, I’m curious with everyone here, we have a pretty wide variety of team sizes and company sizes. So, I’d love to see responses in the questions panel around exactly that. What tools are you already using to communicate with clients? Are you using Gmail? Is it Office365? Do you have a CRM tool or do you try to fit everything into a practice management tool? Go ahead and use the questions panel to just drop in some of that information so we can keep that dialogue going.

Sabrina: (09:27)

Great. And that’ll give us some really good information about where you all are. If, for instance, like somebody who just responded, you use Outlook, what are the biggest problems with that? How do you make sure that you have that visibility to collaborate? If you forward an email from Outlook to somebody else, how do you know if it gets answered? Do you have a way to do that? Just things to think about.

Jonathan: (09:53)

As all of you probably already know with your frustrations with Gmail and Outlook, traditional email wasn’t designed for team collaboration. Yes, they’re trying to do some things like collaborative inboxes or, you know, shared inboxes on Microsoft Teams. But even those are still not really designed for team collaboration in a very effective way.

That’s why we want to talk about Outpost because Outpost was designed from the ground up specifically around the concept of efficient team collaboration. And so we’re going to talk to you a little bit about that today. And we’re going to talk about how a process for your team like Sabrina talked about earlier in the webinar can really help your team improve client communication and client satisfaction. So busy teams definitely struggle to manage these inboxes and this client communication. But that’s what Outpost is all about.

Jonathan: (10:52)

It helps you confidently collaborate in those shared inboxes. So you can get more done and take better care of your clients. It’s important to know that it, it can work with your existing Gmail or Office365 setup. It’s extremely easy to use. We designed it to look and feel like an email client. So there’s no learning curve you get in and day one, it just works. And there’s no cost or setup required. So really pretty easy.

That’s the whole ethos of what we designed and why we designed it. We need a better email tool for team collaboration. So I’d like to take what Sabrina was talking about, in terms of team efficiency and some of the processes that you can put in place. And I want to explain to you how one of the accounting firms that use Outpost was able to do this.

Jonathan: (11:39)

So I’d like you to meet Accolution, you know, I talked to Dan he’s the owner of Accolution. They started way back in 2014. They do full-service bookkeeping. They do virtual CFO services. One of the things that they also did is when they would onboard a new client, a lot of times their client, which has to hand them the email address for their own small business accounting email.

So that would be accounting at, you know, my business.com. And they’d say, here you go, solution. I would like you to be more integrated into our company so that you can just handle all billing, invoice, any financial questions that come to this email address, you take care of it. And Accolution was able to do that and take care of their services, on their behalf. They have clients all around the world.

Jonathan: (12:31)

And as you can imagine, as they grew year over year this started to become an issue. The idea of email overhead and email headaches became a struggle, because what would they were doing is they would have to log in to all of their different clients’ mailboxes. And they ended up having to open them in multiple tabs. They’d run into Google’s limit it. You have to be logged into more than 10 email addresses at a time.

And as soon as you log into your 11th email, it logs you out of everything. There’s just a lot of operational headaches and confusion that was slowing the team down. Now, if they’re wanting to grow, they already had 30 to 40 clients. And if they’re growing year over year, they could see that this problem was only going to get worse. So Dan started looking for other solutions and he recognized that help desk ticketing services, all that kind of stuff just from work, because it, it turns email into something else and didn’t work like basic email.

Jonathan: (13:33)

So all he wanted was just something that worked like email that would let the team collaborate together. They could reply and you can attach things, you know, it just needed to be more collaborative. It didn’t have to be an entirely different platform that had a bunch of bells and whistles. So the challenge for Ecolution was how could they streamline their email system so that they could reduce those headaches, retain their clients better, and continue growing.

They wanted a future based solution. I’m not going to stay on this slide too long, but, I just wanted you to see just some of the problems they were dealing with and then what they were able to do with Outpost. So maybe you’ll see some things in here that, you know, seem familiar to you because that’s what you’re dealing with. And I’d really love to show, you know, how Accolution was able to achieve some of their success with better processes and with a tool like Outpost.

Jonathan: (14:33)

So, the first problem that we talked about with Accolution is that they had lots of mailboxes that they were managing as a team, whether it was the info ads or the accounting ads, or like we talked about, they were also managing client mailboxes on their behalf. And that just gets sharing email passwords, asking each team member to log in on their own, you know, email, Outlook, and set up all their different folders.

It took a lot and it would be different for each person, that execution wasn’t always consistent. So what the acquisition team was able to do, and I’ll just, tab over here, and show you in Outpost. So this is, this is Outpost. It should look and feel just like, you know, a Gmail or Outlook client because we designed it to look and feel that way.

Jonathan: (15:31)

But what you can see here is these are all separately connected, email addresses. These are all different mailboxes, distinct, and connected all in the same place. And it creates a streamlined effect by having everything all in one place with all of your team, all in one place. This is browser-based. You can have a desktop app version of this as well.

But basically, instead of providing passwords to email accounts, you’re giving your team members one login for themselves to get into Outpost, which then lets them see all of the mailboxes that are connected, that they have permissions to view. So I just want to show you this first thing, cause I think it just, let’s take a moment to let that settle in. This is the whole team and all of the mailboxes connected in one place. Really easy to set up and it takes the headache out of having multiple tabs, open, multiple instances, open sharing passwords.

Jonathan: (16:34)

It’s just much simpler and all right here. So that was kind of the first and foremost, the big problem that they were able to solve one login to access all mailboxes. The next problem that they had was some inconsistent client onboarding, depending on the setup, whether their clients did or didn’t want them to manage email on their behalf.

I’m not sure what your process is when you onboard a new client, perhaps you tell them to remember to email a specific address, or maybe they get into the habit of emailing individual team members. And so then you’re having to pass that email around until it gets to the right person that can create confusion that only grows throughout your relationship with your client. So what Accolusion was able to do was create some seamless onboarding without coast behind the scenes. Clients don’t know that they’re using Outpost, it’s invisible tech for the client.

Jonathan: (17:35)

It just creates a smoother onboarding experience. And so I want to jump back in here as well, into Outpost, and show you what that looks like. So from the very beginning, when a new client is onboarded, this is the process the Ecolution does they connect their client’s email address. It’s brought into outpost one time.

They don’t have to think about it again. It’s connected when they connect that mailbox, they’re able to set team members permissions for who is going to help manage that inbox. So all of your users are in Outpost, but you can decide which mailboxes they have access to because not every team member needs to help manage every single mailbox. So as user permissions, help refine that and define clearly who’s responsible for what. And then as part of this process, this onboarding process, they get that mailbox connected, and then they immediately create a tag.

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Jonathan: (18:40)

This is to help organize the inbox for that ongoing client communication. So they create a tag for that client. And so now they’re able to keep things organized as messages come in, they can manually tag something, but the other thing that they can do and what our solution does, right, when they begin is they also set up an email routing rule. Now you probably know what you know, routing rules are because they do exist in Gmail.

They exist. Now look, basically as soon as an email comes into the inbox, that rule is applied to the email, whether that’s adding a label or a tag or moving it to a specific folder or our timing or trashing it, depending on what it is. But the beauty of Outpost is that this is all of the team in one place. So this is happening for all your emails as they come in for these clients’ mailboxes and the team doesn’t have to worry about it.

Jonathan: (19:38)

It just gets taken care of automatically. And the collaborative features of Outpost are then able to be applied with rules as well. So for example, the acquisition team connects the mailbox, creates the tag, and then is able to create some rules that say whenever messages come in, automatically tag them with this tag. And because we know which team members are supposed to be responding to these, you can automatically assign these messages.

And depending on what type of messages come in, you can either automatically reply to those messages as well. So again, email routing rules are a simple known thing, but because they’re in a tool like Outpost, you can add those collaborative aspects to the rules as well, which really increases your efficiency and help that collaboration. So everybody knows who’s doing what.

Jonathan: (20:31)

So let’s talk about the next tool or the next problem that acquisition had. So we talked about inefficient team processes, everybody, you know, their clients are all connected in Outpost and this organization is set up emails coming in, tags are being applied. So how does this collaboration actually work while we talk about assignments, let me show you how this works. I find log in here. And I see my email.

I can see that I have a client that needs to be taken care of our client. Easy does it vacations. Now I would like my team member Linda to take therapists. And so I assigned this message. I can see which of my team is available. It looks like Linda’s online, she’s here and I’ll post and working. So I can assign this message. And Linda is going to get an alert that she’s been assigned to this conversation.

Jonathan: (21:25)

Not only that, but instead of forwarding this email around or seeing each other and having internal conversations within an email thread, I can have private internal conversations with Linda right next to this whole thread. So I can add a note. I can mention Linda, and I can say, Linda, let me know if you need any help with this. This is a private internal message.

It doesn’t get added to a forward or a CC. It just posts this note. Linda will get a notification that she needs that she’s got, you know, a note ready for her. And then she can reply to this and we can have this conversation right here in the inbox. We don’t need to go to Slack. We don’t need to go to another instant messaging tool. We don’t need to have emails about emails. We can just talk, work things out, share links, whatever it is.

It all stays private and internal right next to the threads. So you never lose the context either. And as you can see, Linda responded back to me and she mentioned me. So I get a notification too, that says, okay, I’ve been mentioned in to know I can come to that conversation. And here we are collaborating together. It’s easy to see who’s doing what and who’s responsible for each message,

Sabrina: (22:45)

No surprise. I’m playing Linda for this demo. So I saw that note and I was able to respond back. But Jonathan, I thought it was worth mentioning that even if you don’t answer your client’s team, you don’t want to offer that as a service, these sorts of tools that help you keep internal discussions away from the threat of the clients, but also give you ways to keep your team members accountable and also give Cassie who’s the firm owner that oversight so that when that client is getting dealt with Cassie can be assigned it.

Sabrina: (23:28)

She knows Linda will deal with it, but Cassie can get in there at any time and see what’s going on and make sure that all her clients because it’s her firm is ultimately being taken care of. So even if you’re just offering services, bookkeeping, taxes, compliance, but you’re not actually offering more than that.

And like apt solution actually answering your client’s emails, you still need an efficient way to make sure that you are getting back to your clients. And that if there is an internal discussion about the client, that that never goes out to the client because, in our lifetimes, I’m sure all of us have been involved in a thread that had some things that shouldn’t have gone out to anyone and did. And you do that once, maybe twice. And it’s a really hard lesson, but I just wanted to kind of point that out.

Jonathan: (24:23)

Yeah. And Sabrina, I’m wondering if you could actually start editing a draft for me, cause I’d also like to show one more aspect of these collaborative superpowers the Outpost has, which is not only can you have those private internal conversations, but you can also start to collaborate on your email responses.

How many times have you started to reply to a client only to realize that your team member also started replying to a client, and maybe you’re writing two different responses that don’t even line up themselves. Then sometimes you go so far as to actually send both responses. There’s a little bit of embarrassment around that.

Or maybe you just see, or your team member responds and you’ve spent, you know, several minutes writing something that is outdated and no longer going to be used. So that can be a headache of people wasting time on things that they don’t need to waste time on.

Jonathan: (25:15)

But Outpost lets you collaborate on drafts. The first thing it does is Linda is editing a draft. Currently, she’s actively writing a response to this client. And so I’m locked out of this. I don’t get to jump in and write anything and accidentally send or step on Linda’s toes. She’s editing the draft, it’s locked while she’s writing the response, and then she can save that draft, and I can come back in, and we can maybe refine the draft together.

It’s a bit like, you know, Google docs, but for email where now this draft has been saved and I can easily jump in and edit and start typing my response. And so Linda and I are able to go back and forth, refine this so that it’s perfect, you know, well-written professional response, exactly what we as a company want to say, and then we can send that out. So collision alerts keep you from stepping on each other’s toes, but then that shared draft aspect lets you guys work together to write the best response possible.

Jonathan: (26:21)

And there’s a question here that I want to answer as well. David asked if Outpost integrates with RingCentral, there’s actually a really good use case that one of our customers has where they use RingCentral. And what they do is perhaps it’s RingCentral or maybe you guys are using a sauna or some other tool that sends email notifications. What one company did is they had those RingCentral email notifications delivered to their shared inbox.

So now all those RingCentral notifications are coming in, whether there’s a voicemail to listen to, you know, whether there’s some follow-up that needs to be done. So they set that up so that those email notifications were being sent to a shared inbox that the whole team could see. And again, you can set up rules that automatically assign RingCentral emails to a team member automatically tag them.

So then you could go back into your history and look at everything that has been a RingCentral email. There’s a lot of different things to do that. And so being able to set up your tools so that they send those email notifications to a shared inbox helps democratize that for better collaboration and more efficiency.

Jonathan: (27:35)

Now the last thing that I wanted to talk through with the Accolution case study is the final problem, which is that they were spending too much time managing email. And so with these processes in place, by having all of their email connected into one tool that the whole team could access and by using collaborative features like assignments, internal private notes, collision alerts, and share drafts, they’re able to streamline some of what they were doing so they weren’t duplicating work, but then they were able to go one step further. And I want to show you templates.

So like Sabrina talked about with frequently asked questions, you and your team can create saved templates in Outpost that can be used to reply to emails. And just a matter of seconds instead of everybody having to write an email from scratch. So, you know, we have a template that is about acknowledging when an email comes in and because there might be some frequently asked questions, perhaps you have a web contact form on your website where people can inquire about your services.

Jonathan: (28:46)

Well, this is a great way to respond to those form submissions automatically with a rule, with a template that shows, Hey, here are some of our frequently asked questions, check it out here. But in the meantime, we are working on reviewing your request and we’ll have her response back to you soon. So I was able to write that professional response one time, save it. All of my team have access to it directly here in the mail, in the inbox so that they can use it.

So I can, you know, take a look at this response about, you know, this email here, I can edit this draft. And then in just a matter of seconds, I can insert a template. I can drop that in. If I wanted to, I can personalize it a little bit more. I can customize it. So now it’s, you know, not sounding like a robot wrote it. I can adjust it based on the actual question that was sent, but it took me just a couple of seconds to load that and have that ready to go. And that’s something that you and your team can do together so that everybody is able to send the most professional response at any time.

Sabrina: (29:57)

And Jonathan, what I love about this, and again, this goes back to the origins of Outpost because we built it internally for ourselves is that all of us have emails that we answer and we find ourselves typing the same thing over and over again.

The fact that you can build these templates and you can place them by mailbox. So in client mailboxes, maybe you have particular services that you offer and you want to make those accessible, or maybe I write something and I realized, wow, this really should be a template. I can add it, but it all lives in an Outpost, right? It doesn’t live in my Outlook in my drafts because that’s what I used to do. Now I’ve moved to Gmail and I use Gmail and I used to have, you know, drafts in Gmail and I use those drafts as templates.

Sabrina: (30:51)

Other people use Google docs and they share them and all those drafts are there. This is right there and you can just add it in. But the other piece that was really important to me. And I think a lot of people feel the same way as I didn’t want it to just be a CRM or help desk ticket function, where you add the template and off it goes and you can’t edit it.

And a lot of help desk software. That’s what happens when the template goes in, you can do nothing else to it. And it just automatically goes out to the customer, the client, these templates allow you to personalize so you can just have them there. And then, you know, you want to write, you know, maybe to Danny, you want to say, Hey Danny, how’s it going? Hope your fall is looking better. Hope your family says, and then the tablet is there, right? And so you can add that sense of personalization every single time while having the efficiency of sharing all these templates.

Jonathan: (31:52)

No, that’s right. And the beauty of that is that this isn’t a shared doc. That’s somewhere else. Your team doesn’t have to go somewhere else to copy and paste. You know, if you have a tool like Gmail or Outlook, maybe you have templates saved for yourself, but maybe those aren’t available to everybody else.

This makes these available to everyone directly in the tool that they’re using to reply to a client email. So it cuts way down on response time because it helps you start off, you know, without a blank slate, you start off from a pre-written response that then you can refine and personalize it. It’s a warm, professional, personal response that your whole team can use to have consistent messaging which really does a great job for your, your business per reputation and helps build that loyalty with your clients.

Sabrina: (32:45)

Hey, Jonathan, I have another question that I’d love for you to address and then show us, in Outpost, we talked earlier about response times and setting those up and, you know, having a goal for your team of, you know, we will answer all client email in this amount of time. How does that tool like Outpost help me manage my response times?

Jonathan: (33:09)

Yeah, that’s right. We have analytics, so Gmail and Outlook, they’re not telling you anything about, your emails, in terms of how fast you’re responding to people. But Outpost has analytics baked in. And so if I, you know, open up my date range, obviously we’re in a demo account.

We’re not sending a lot of emails. But when I apply my date range here, I can see some email that’s gone out. And I just want to show you again, you can laugh about the 11 day response time, but what’s actually interesting about this is I’m seeing an average response time for my team and for all my mailboxes, I can drill that information down and look at specific mailboxes to see what our response time is for those I can customize the date range. I’m able to choose business hours and see how that impacts.

Jonathan: (33:59)

Cause I’m saying, look, we’re not answering email all around the clock all the time. I’d like to know what my analytics look like just within our business hours. But it gives me visibility into what’s happening and how we, how we’re doing as a team. I can see the average response time, as a whole, and then I can drill down and see how are we doing by team members?

So Cassie here, you know, she has a response time that I think we’d like to improve. So by being able to see which team members are, you know, responding to messages and how many emails they’re responding to in a given time period, I have a staffing insight that gives me the opportunity to think about load balancing. You know, how many emails are people handling? Can I share the load? Can you distribute that a little bit better as a team?

Jonathan: (34:51)

I can think about knowledge sharing, what kind of training do we need to do to help the team as a whole get better? So that there’s maybe less back and forth about what the response should be. Or maybe we don’t have enough frequently asked questions written in our templates.

And it’s taking more time for our team to go find the right answers, little things like that can prompt me to ask the right types of questions with my team so that we can improve this together. The phrase that we like to use, you know, is that you can’t measure or you can’t improve what you’re not measuring. So by being able to see this first, now you start to have some insights on how you can improve.

Sabrina: (35:32)

Hey, Jonathan, there’s a really interesting question that someone’s asked, what are the emails are junk and don’t require a response. How do you deal with those so that it doesn’t look like someone needs to respond? So I think that’s a question that’s asking about the analytics, but just in general, the management of how Outpost deals with that. So I thought you could address some of our spam filters and then the way people can archive mail and, you know, get it basically out of that inbox so that it is, seem to be reasonable.

Jonathan: (36:04)

Sure. So, let’s talk about rules for just a second because newsletters are a pretty good example. You might want to actually receive newsletters and read those from time to time to get industry news and stuff, but you don’t want them cluttering up your inbox. And so you might create a rule that automatically marks those as red tags, them as newsletters, and archives them so that they’re not cluttering up the inbox and distracting your team.

You’re not going to respond to those. You’re just going to archive them. This is a really good thing to set up at the beginning so that your inbox stays clean and organized. The right messages are emphasized and the messages that don’t, you know, aren’t important can stay out of the inbox and not distract your team. And to the question around analytics, how we calculate our analytics for you is the information that’s only going to show here is the messages that have been responded to.

So all we’re doing is tracking the time between when that message came in and the time it took before that message was responded to. So you’re seeing data here based on what was actually responded to messages that were just trashed or archived without a response don’t clutter up this view either again, it’s focusing just on the performance that your team is doing and gives you those insights that you need to improve that together.

Sabrina: (37:29)

Jonathan, I have another question for you. So, what if I’m, you know, I’m the firm owner, I sign up for Outpost. I add my team members. Maybe I have six or seven team members in there. What if there are some emails, or inboxes that I only want to look at myself? Maybe occasionally I need somebody to answer them, but I’m not sure. So I want to keep an inbox that is private. How does that work? Or, or maybe I want you to work on two clients and not all the clients. And so I only want to give you access to the, you know, certain client mailboxes that are coming in and you’re only dealing with those clients. How does Outpost deal with that?

Jonathan: (38:19)

Yeah, that’s a great question. I’m glad you brought that up. What the reality is is that your process at your own firm is probably gonna look a little bit different from somebody else’s process. And that’s important. You want to find a process that’s going to make your team the most efficient you can be with the workload you have, the clients you have. And so Outpost actually is pretty versatile on that. It allows whatever process is best for you to be what works. So for instance, Ecolution what they do is they have a team of bookkeepers. And so rather than giving everybody access to all of their client mailboxes, they break them up into teams of two. So they’re going to have an account manager and a bookkeeper assigned to a specific client mailbox and what they can do and Outpost is they can set user permissions so I can choose which mailboxes Linda’s going to have access to.

Jonathan: (39:14)

And you can see here that I’ve given her access to these three, these two clients, and the general mailbox, but she doesn’t need to manage Robin Egg, Seattle Realty, Windy City. She doesn’t need to do that. So I have not given her access to those mailboxes. And you also can set user permissions, so that if you have maybe a co-owner at the firm or something like that, you can give some of your users’ administrative access so that they can edit it rules or, you know, set up or templates. But you get to set the user permissions and that’s something that not all of your platforms than other tools that you use allow. So being able to really drill in and define who has access to what is, again, a process that helps improve your efficiency, keep your team focused on the things they need to be focused on so that they can get more work done. Instead of getting distracted by a big cluttered inbox,

Sabrina: (40:14)

Hey, Jonathan, I’d love also, if you could show how the rules can help actually organize the incoming client emails. So like an email coming in from, out of office vacations or something similar, you know, how do I make sure that it goes into the right mailbox? So that then the people I’ve assigned to deal with easy, does it, or Robin Egg Chocolate Company are dealing with the right mail? What do I do? How do I use rules? So every time, you know, Erica from Easy Does It Emails it goes into the right mailbox and the right people are dealing with that client.

Jonathan: (40:57)

Yeah, that’s a good question. And this is exactly how this is a rule that you can set up that you can say, if an email comes into our mailboxes from Erica or from the easy, does it vacation account if that email contains those from addresses, we’re going to automatically tag it as their client tag. And because Antonio is my point person for that client, it’s automatically going to be assigned to him. It doesn’t matter which inbox it comes into. If Erica forgets and accidentally re you know, sends an email to the general inbox, as opposed to the client and box, that doesn’t matter because all of it’s connected and this rule is applied. Anytime a message comes in from Erica, the owner or the, their, you know, client’s account, it automatically gets tagged and assigned to Antonio. And that’s what you can set up every time with every client, as part of your onboarding checklist, internally, your team sets up, the mailboxes create a rule so that things are automatically tagged and assigned.

Jonathan: (42:01)

And that’s a one-time setup that then for the rest of that client relationship, those things are working smoothly and you can come in and edit and adjust these as needed. But it really, again, starts right out of the box of streamlining your communication flow so that it’s not cumbersome, it’s consistent and smooth for every client. And just to wrap up, obviously, Outpost is a perfect tool for helping your team managing all together, all in one, it takes the pain out of managing client email. It reduces those headaches and helps you streamline that communication, but it also gives you the ability to set up those processes that you need to be more efficient, get more done, and provide excellent service. So just as a final wrap-up, we wanted to just mention an offer that we have for our webinar attendees. For those of you who are interested, you can start for free without posts.

Jonathan: (42:57)

And then if you like what you’re seeing, if you’re seeing an improvement in your email communication, you will get 50% off your first three months about posts, and we want to help make sure that the setup is perfect. It’s easy, it’s smooth. So we’ll give you a personalized one-on-one setup. It’s a breeze. It just takes a few minutes. And the only suggestion that I would have for you today is to get started on learning more is, go ahead and sign up for that free trial. And we will respond to you immediately with a request to set up a call and help answer any questions that you have and make sure that your Outpost account is properly set up.

Sabrina: (43:38)

I also want to make sure, you know, it’s not very hard and that’s one of the things that we focused on. This is an easy system to use. If you know how to use Outlook or Gmail, you’ll know how to use Outpost.

Jonathan: (43:51)

Thank you for your time with us to talk through how you can improve email communication and client satisfaction.

Posted in: Email Webinars

Outpost Community

Outpost Community

This article was written by a member of the Outpost Community.

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