Do you want to help your team manage email in a shared inbox, without stepping on each other’s toes? Want to see how other companies use Outpost to manage their email and increase productivity?
In a recent virtual workshop, we discussed best practices for setting up your mailboxes in a shared inbox tool. Plus, we’ll show you real-world examples of how law offices, online retailers, accounting firms, and other organizations use Outpost to save time and get more done with email.
Watch the video:
Organize your team and your email with Outpost
Most teams struggle to manage their info@ or support@ inboxes. 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 your shared inboxes 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. Team up on email, stay organized, and take better care of your customers.
Read the transcript:
We really appreciate everyone being here today to learn some more basics and best practices when it comes to using shared inboxes as a team. So, if you’re here, you might be somebody who’s already in a free trial of Outpost, but let… Or you might just be interested in Outpost and want to learn more about what is the shared inbox thing look like and feel like? And how could it actually improve my team?
So, go ahead and use that questions panel to let us know what are you here for today? Are you just kind of interested in learning more about Outpost? Are you already in there and using it? Just want to use it better? Just let us know what questions we can be answering for you today, and we can definitely tailor the workshop to fit around the questions that you need answers to as well.
Yeah, the real nature of these programs that we’re trying to do on these Fridays is only done this a few times so far, but really trying to get some of this knowledge that Jonathan has working with all these different small businesses out there, all across the world really. We’re in the U.S., but we have customers everywhere on the globe. So, what’s interesting about when Jonathan sees so many people benefiting from getting their email under control, getting their organization under control, and getting their email working a little better for them, are these best practices and really kind of interesting practices tend to emerge from that work.
So, I think Jonathan really wanted to call some of these out, take a look at maybe how you, as a listener, can interact with some of these things that we’re seeing out there in the field, and just have a little discussion time. So, [crosstalk] thanks for taking the time this morning, Jonn.
Absolutely. And so, let’s jump right in and kick this workshop off. Again, if you have not yet started a trial of Outpost, you can start for free. It’s a 14-day free trial, you’ll get in, you’ll be able to catch your mailboxes and easily start to see how things can work with your team. And then, we are also offering a special offer this time of year, where you can get 45% off of your first year without Outpost. So, really a great deal to help you kind of ease into using Outpost as a team. Plus, we have personalized one-on-one support. If you need to connect with one of our customer success guides, we’re always available to answer questions via email. If you need to hop on a call, we can do that, but we really care about making sure Outpost is working for your team to make you more efficient and collaborative.
That’s great, Jonathan, but hey, we might have some… Oh, actually, we’ve can [inaudible] someone here who doesn’t. We need to learn what Outpost really is about, Jonathan. So I’m glad your next slide is going to dive right in. Jonathan, what’s the deal without Outpost? Why does it exist?
Yeah. Absolutely. So, as some of you may already know, but others are finding out, or are discovering is, traditional email wasn’t really designed for team collaboration. Working in Gmail, or working in office 365, those tools have done some things to try to make collaboration a little bit easier, but there’s still more of an individualized email product and it just is difficult to collaborate.
And so, I’m just going to show this slide for just a minute here, this is what collaborating without a shared inbox tool looks like for a lot of teams. There are forwards and CCs happening. Maybe you’re getting into an instant messenger outside of your inbox, just to ask if somebody saw an email or if they’re taking care of it. A lot of times you forward a message to a colleague and then you have no idea what they do with it afterward, so you’re just kind of hoping that they follow up, and then maybe you need to go ask or yell across the hall and walk to their desk and say, “Hey, did you ever take care of that?” Or, “Do you need any help?”
This kind of collaboration, I think we can all agree that it’s slow and inefficient. And a lot of times what happens is it creates some bottlenecks and there’s a real lack of visibility into how the whole team is doing and how you can be supporting each other and working better together as a team. So, traditional email and the old way of collaborating, it really hurts your team’s productivity. It slows things down and makes it difficult for your team to scale up and do well. And that’s really what Outpost-
Jonathan, I look at your list, and I feel like everyone has done these things. Right? You’ve always talked to somebody about an email. I’ve, and not just walk to a team member’s desk, I have sat at a desk, watch them write the email because it was so important. It had to be done right. That kind of thing. I mean, just how many people in today’s audience have watched someone as they write an email, they’ve gotten the words right.
I’ve seen two people gathered around a desk. “Oh yeah. Use this word.” That kind of thing, crafting the perfect email because that client was so important because it was an email to the CEO because it was so critical to get it correct. And that was the way to collaborate, was gather around an actual computer physically. And I mean, hey, now that we’re remote, I don’t know if everyone here is remote today, but now that a lot of us are remote at least, you can’t use that as a tactic anymore.
The other thing I’ll say about this, Jonathan, is I’m looking at this and I am… These are maybe things that maybe some of the things are kind of fun or not that bad. This isn’t that big a headache, Jonathan, but I will say that these are time sinks.
Treating email as something that’s like a social activity and taking this long to do, it takes so much time out of your day that you could use to do the thing that you love. And it, hey, if anyone on today’s webinar got into businesses and emails posting the questions because I don’t want to make any insults to you, but a lot of us go into business for something else other than sending emails all day. We’re here to do what we love. We fix pies, we make bread, we consult with people, that kind of thing. So, I just want to really emphasize that the primary deal with those times sakes. Right, Jonathan?
Yeah, that’s right. It’s really important to understand the why of all of this. How does better team collaboration actually help your team? And that’s why we’re talking about Outpost. It was specifically designed for team collaboration as an email product. And let’s just look at these benefits of, if you can get into a good rhythm of collaborating with your team on email communication, your team can do their best work.
There’s less internal back and forth slowing you guys down. There’s clearer customer communication. Your team actually starts to improve instead of trying to get a bunch of things done and kind of staying in a place of static busyness, you are getting better. You’re improving the way you respond. You’re improving your responses and writing more professional emails. You’re getting rid of those bottlenecks and silos. And then what that does is because there’s less friction, it gives your team the ability to scale. They can focus on doing more work and less email management. And that poisons your team for growth. It sets you up for growth and the ability to scale and do more, which is great.
So, let’s get into the app. I know we have a brief workshop here where we’re just going to be talking about collaboration. And so I want to talk to you about how world-class teams collaborate in Outpost. And it is really simple and straightforward. We’re not talking about complex software and systems that you have to learn. We’re not talking about new names for things that you have to understand what things mean. Outpost looks and feels like email, and so your team should be able to jump right in and understand how to use it. But we’re going to talk about some common team roles that we see, no matter what size of business you are, we tend to see two or three of these key roles take shape in a team that’s collaborating really well in Outpost.
So we have these roles, one’s called the doer. That’s somebody who is focused purely on responding to emails. They’re taking care of it, a message comes in, they’re responding to it. For some bigger teams, we also see someone who kind of takes it as an operational role. We’re calling that the delegator. They’re the person who’s in Outpost and often sharing things, assigning things, leaving notes. They’re really focused on helping the team move smoothly and communicating with each other.
And then you have a team leader. That might be the business owner themselves. Maybe if you’re in a professional services business like an accounting firm or a law office, maybe you’re the partner or the owner, or perhaps you’re in a larger company, and maybe you’re a team leader of a department, as a customer service director. These are the typical roles that we start to see. And so, I want to go through, for each job that’s to be done, what does it look like to collaborate in Outpost?
So this doer, the person who’s kind of in all the time, all throughout the day, what are their key values? Their key value is taking care of their customers. They want to handle the priority messages first. It’s not just about whatever came in last needs to get taken care of first. It’s taking care of the most important things first. They’re also going to have a high value in sharing information with the team, passing things on, handing off, whatever it is that’s going to help the team do better together.
And here is another value that matters to them, is that they want to increase their speed. They want to be able to move faster in Outpost without sacrificing quality. And so, what does a day in the life look like for the doer? And here just a quick snapshot of what their life looks like in Outpost. They start their shift, maybe they’re working all day long. They’re going to jump in and they’re going to stay logged in to Outpost throughout their entire shift because they’re paying attention to everything that’s coming in. And they’re making sure that things are being taken care of.
When they log in for the first time of the day, they’re going to go to look at their assigned messages first. What’s on my plate? That’s what they’re thinking. What do I need to handle? Because if it’s assigned to me, it’s most likely a higher priority message that I needed to take care of. So they’re going to review their messages, they’re going to check the tags, they’re going to read whatever notes are attached. They’re going to really understand what’s going on with the conversation, and then that gives them the ability to reply with a thorough professional response.
And once they’ve kind of taken care of the things that are assigned to them first, then they can review anything that hasn’t been assigned yet. How can I support? Where do I go next? What can I do next? So let’s look at Outpost because I want to jump in here and say, “What does that look like for the doer role?”
So, I’m logged in, and this is Outpost. If this is your first time seeing Outpost, welcome. This is, we’re giving you a chance to see that Outpost really looks and feels exactly like email. There are a couple of key differences that really support team collaboration. And for that doer, this is where I’m going to go first. I’m going to be able to filter all of my emails with all of the connected mailboxes first, to see what’s on my plate. These are the messages that have been assigned to me by my team members, by some automation in Outpost. Whatever it is, this is what’s on my plate. And these are the messages that I need to take care of first.
And so I can pick a message, I can review the thread, make sure I understand what’s being done here. And maybe I need some more information on this one. So, the forum can respond thoroughly. I need to understand what’s going on with this guest at this vacation rental company. So I’m going to collaborate with one of my team members. I’m going to add, mention Gerald and say, “Hey, can you help? Any more information?”
So I’m going to post that note and because Gerald’s in here as well, he might be able to respond to me. And as I’m waiting for his response, I’m going to move on to my next message and keep working. So again, I’m looking at these assigned messages first, I’m collaborating with my team until I can clear each one of these out and archive them as resolved. They’re done, I’ve taken care of them.
So that’s the first thing is to look at what’s been assigned to yourself. And then, as I said, the next thing that you’re going to do is look at what’s assigned. What’s sitting here? Okay, good. Nothing’s been unassigned. That’s great. But you know what? As our team collaborates, I realize that McKenzie, she’s out sick today. And so I’m going to see what was on her plate. Right?
I can pick this message up. I’m going to reassign it to myself. So now the team knows that it’s on my plate, and here we go. I’m back into looking at what’s on my plate and taking care of it. Now, I talked about reviewing notes. You can also see the history of the conversation. So I can again get a full view of what’s happened with this conversation prior to me picking it up. If there are any relevant notes, I can review them. And we also want to make sure that we’re tagging our conversations so that these are organized and easy to find and follow up with later if we need historical information. So, I’m going to add check out here, because it’s a question about late checkout. Let me see if there’s any other, okay, let’s say, this might need some approval from my manager, so I might mark that as a needs approval. And I’m able to set these tags, and my team is then going to be able to review these later if they need to.
So that’s kind of the basics for the doer. They’re focused on the messages that are assigned to them. They can quickly take care of those. They can move on to other messages afterward. And depending on the size of your team, I just want to show you what the backend looks like for users. Depending on the size of your team, you might have 10, 15, 100 mailboxes connected. I don’t know. We’ve seen a lot of different-sized businesses here with a lot of different email models. And the thing that’s important to realize is that for your doers, you might actually split them up into mini teams. So for accounting firms, a lot of times, what we see is a couple of people assigned to a specific set of client mailboxes.
So, instead of the whole team having to bear the burden of all the mailboxes, you focus many teams on specific mailboxes. And you can do that in Outpost because you have the ability to set permissions. So for Gerald or Mackenzie, this is where I can see what mailboxes they have permission to access. And so, when they log in for the day, they’re only focused on the customer success mailbox and the sales mailbox. That’s their responsibility. And together, they’re taking care of those messages.
And I can change those mailbox permissions at any time. I might choose to say, “We’re going to use the info mailbox as kind of a general mailbox so that if the team needs to move something from sales or customer success into the info, they have access to that mailbox as well. And they can pass things into that mailbox.” And that really gives my team the focus they need to take care of the things that they’re going to be responsible for and allows me as the owner or the admin, I can still look at these settings and I can have that visibility. So, that’s the focus for the doer.
Yeah. I’m looking at the doer and I’m like, the one thing I love about these kinds of employees is one of the greatest ways to manage a good doer is to get things out of their way so they can just do their work. And sometimes they want to do more and more. They get frustrated by too much conversation, too many emails. They are the kind of person who gets frustrated if they wrote an email, and another team member wrote the same email and they both sent it to the same client. They might get frustrated from the client experience, but they’ll also get frustrated because that’s duplicated work and again, a waste of time.
So that doer is really keeping them focused like you said, making sure they’re only checking the things that are most important to them is good for them. But as a manager of that team, you get the benefit of the doer doing the most work, the best work, the best possible work, the most focused work, which results in all the rest of the stuff being, the more confusing things. Maybe being handled by team members who can cope with that kind of thing, and who doesn’t sort of eat away at the doer’s time.
Jonathan, you said one thing, and we actually have a couple of questions about this. I want to emphasize really quickly on that app. In the app of Outpost, what Jonathan just showed you is that there are multiple different types of inboxes all being shared in that app. Right? He showed you an info@ address. What else do you have? A customerservice@, and also someone’s name, like maybe the CEO’s name at the company, and all of those can be shared in Outpost. All those have the same collaborative features all in one instance of Outpost.
So it’s really important to think… Something I learned from you, Jonathan, is that some companies just have one big info@ inbox. And the idea of having multiple inboxes gets confusing. Right? It gets so confusing, because it’s like, “Well, what are you going to do? Delegate all this stuff? And I am already frustrated just logging into one inbox.” I think that kind of leads to the next personality, doesn’t it?
Yeah. And again, it just really depends on the business. Some folks really like the organization of having specific mailboxes for specific functions. And so, that’s kind of the model that we’re showing you here, you might have a customer success mailbox. You might have a sales mailbox or an info@ mailbox so that you can easily categorize things and get work done based on the function of that communication.
So, let’s talk about the second role here, the delegator. This is probably somebody who was already doing some very important work before Outpost in your team. This most likely was the person who was supposed to go check all of your separate email addresses and make sure that nothing was slipping through the cracks and was forwarding things on to team members, and they were the ones who was basically playing traffic cop and moving things around and trying to keep everything going.
The key value for the delegators, they want to take care of customers, but they also want to make teamwork efficient. They want to pass things around so that the team can do their work well. And they want to support team members with key information. “Hey, this person needs X, Y, or Z. Hey, this person has asked us for this before, here’s some information about that.” And they also are organizationally-minded. They are focused on keeping things organized that they can move quickly.
And as that person transitions into Outpost, the nature of the job is similar in terms of those values, but I think what you’re going to see for this person is, the light bulb still on, the stress is relieved, and they feel a lot better about how they can successfully do their job in Outpost. So for the delegator, they’re going to stay logged in all throughout their shift as well.
And the priorities are going to be a little bit different here. The delegator is actually going to be looking at the unassigned messages first. They’re going to be making sure that things that haven’t yet been assigned, get passed on to the right team members. So they’re going to review messages. They’re going to add tags to organize things. They’re going to add relevant notes to let people know what they need to do with a message. And then they’re going to assign them to specific team members. And then throughout the day, they’re going to be looking at those team assignments and seeing, does anybody need help? Does somebody have a lot on their plate and they need me to move something off of their plate for them? How can I help? And they’re doing this with kind of an eye on response time. How well are we responding to our customers? And how quickly are we responding to our customers?
And so, for the delegator, again, as I said in Outpost, they’re going to be looking at not what’s assigned to them first. We’re going to look at all users. Things are all assigned here, that’s great. But then, in this view by assignment, they can filter and see, you know what? Nicole has eight messages that have been assigned to her, but Erica only has two. Gerald has one, McKenzie has one. I can evenly distribute that a little bit better. Nicole probably doesn’t need to handle all eight messages, so let’s take care of that. Looks like four of those are in draft. That’s great. Let’s see who else we can assign messages to. Give it to, okay, Erica. She can take this message. Let’s give that to her. Let’s give this one to Erica again. That’s great.
So now, when I look at this, it’s a little bit more evenly distributed between the team. So again, the delegator is able to have that visibility across all of the mailboxes. This might be somebody who has more of an administrative role in Outpost, meaning they can see all the mailboxes that they want. They can see all the team members that they need to see, and they get a little bit more of an operational role in Outpost.
The other thing that the delegator can do is, they might be focused on how to help the team streamline. So they might be able to look at what templates are available? And can I write some templates to commonly asked questions to help my team move faster? What do we need to do to help my team be as efficient as possible? Are there rules that I might want to employ to automatically assign things so that the delegator isn’t manually assigning things all the time? They can set up a rule to do that for them. And we’ll talk about rules in a later workshop, but that’s kind of the outlook of the delegator and what they’re doing in Outpost. They’re able to leave notes, they’re able to check-in and just make sure the team is flowing smoothly.
Jonathan, in any small business, a lot of these roles, of course, are going to get overlapped between so many different people. So, at any given moment the owner of the business might be a doer, might be a delegator, and might be our other role. We’re going to take a look at it here. So, I just want to emphasize to people, we’re not saying that these are absolutely specific whole people who only do delegation, but rather the types of roles that people find themselves doing, especially in whatever email world you’re in now, and that are really made better here in this Outpost environment.
So you can see Jonathan’s typing a note there. Someone else will see that note that will guide them. When we said earlier that this can help prevent that feeling of needing to go walk over, needing to call somebody about an email. “Hey, that’s that guy I was telling you about.” You can just say, “Hey, that’s a guy who I was talking about,” over there in the notes. It’s not only going to be seen by the person then responding to that email. It will be permanently attached to that thread.
So, if in a year from now that same person comes back and you want to make another note, your old notice will be there. The thread will be there. That knowledge is still in one place. It’s extremely powerful for those delegators, but that kind of work is also powerful for this team leader role. Right, Jonathan? This third role where oftentimes again, it’s small businesses, the CEO is a doer, is a delegator, and wants to be the oversight capacity for the whole team as well.
Absolutely. And that team leader is such an important role, and their key values here are that they want healthy response times, which means their customers are getting their needs taken care of. And they don’t want to be the doer all the time, because they see the functional value of helping empower the team to improve together. A rising tide lifts all boats, as the saying goes. And so, they want to be focused on, “How do I help in a sense kind of get out of the way, and give my team the things they need to be successful?” But part of that is, they need that visibility and transparency.
For a team leader to need to go and log into inbox after inbox, after inbox, and try to get a sense of who’s doing what? And what’s being taken care of, that can be a nightmare operationally. So they need that visibility. They need that transparency, and that gives them the ability to take a step back from the day-to-day doing, and instead think about how they can refine the team process, how they can shift people’s responsibilities, help them focus on what they do well, and there’s that opportunity to share knowledge and training. This is the team leader who succeeds by helping the team do better. Give the team what they need to be successful.
So a day in the life of that team leader is really just fewer touchpoints in Outpost, but with some really key focal points. One, is they might log in at the beginning of the day, and they just want a quick snapshot of the mailboxes to see what’s assigned? What’s unassigned? How are we doing for the day? Is anything left unanswered from last week? What do we need to do? They can leave notes to share that knowledge as needed. And then if they need to, they can reply to assigned messages that are for them.
And then, that’s it. They’re kind of checking in once, making sure things are working. Maybe they’re talking with their delegator team member. And then at the end of the day, they’re going to log in and just check and see, is there any older messages that are still sitting unanswered? Do we need to help out with that? And they might assign or even reply to some messages as needed.
But again, the focus on response times, and I just… Before we jumped back into Outpost because I just want to show you one more thing here. We’re going to talk about the really world-class teams that do super well in Outpost, also take time to check in with each other.
So maybe on a weekly basis, that team leader is meeting with the delegator and they’re going to look at average response times together and talk about how they can improve. They might work together to add or refine some rules and some templates in Outpost, as needed. And then about once a month, the whole team is getting together to talk about how are we doing? Are we responding as quickly as we’d like to? Can we help train anybody? Can we share the responsibilities? What can we be doing differently so that we can work better together? And that, I just want to show you the last thing, which is analytics, because this is how the delegator and the team leader can look and see how the team is doing.
So here’s a quick snapshot of an analytics report in Outpost, right up here at the top, you can see your team’s total average response time. And here’s a great example of look, I’m going to look at this performance and see that John is taking care of the lion’s share of our messages, and Cody has only answered a couple. So right away, I’m seeing an opportunity to help my team do better, and I’m going to talk to John and Cody in our check-in and say, “All right, guys. John’s answering a ton of messages. There’s no way that’s as efficient as that could be. What do we need to do to offload?”
Without that visibility? I wouldn’t even have known that that was part of the problem, and what I might be uncovering by talking to them about it is, well, John happens to be in a more senior position and knows a lot more things, and so, he’s been thinking, “Well, now, it’s easier for me to just answer the questions then hand them off.” But we’re going to help John and Cody understand that if John can do better training with Cody and train Cody up, he can equip him to handle more himself.
Jonathan, one thing I’ve seen in teams that can really still benefit from Outpost is that, if you looked at how they’re working right now, they might say, because I’ve talked to businesses that are like this, they might say, “With my current solution, where I slack and I call and I text all about emails and we get the emails done, that the solution they’re working with still gets their response time, not on time.
They’re happy with the rate at which their customers get responses, that kind of thing. But I think I would challenge anyone listening today, that if that’s your team, I believe still, that Outpost can help save time, save some of that back and forth, save some of that potential confusion. On top of your already doing a great job, we can just enhance the excellent systems that you have in place, the excellent communication styles that you have in place, the ways in which you reach out to those customers.
And even if we’re not necessarily specifically improving response times, we might actually improve the amount of time spent maintaining those response times. And we’re happy to follow up after today. Jonathan, I also want to emphasize the free trial as you mentioned before. Not just a free, but a very safe trial. You can set up Outpost on top of your Gmail, on top of your Outlook account right now. And it doesn’t meddle with… It doesn’t destroy your existing email. It’s not an installed app. This is a web-based app you log in from your browser.
So there’s no real risk in terms of the technology. And also since it’s a free trial, in terms of the monetary investment on your side, we also have excellent customer success guides. We call them people who are here to help you even more than Jonathan and I could ever do. So, we’re really here to make sure that you have a great experience getting into that app, learning how it can help your teams, and in a risk-free environment.
Yeah, that’s right. And I hope today was a helpful workshop. I know we went a couple of minutes over, but I just wanted to emphasize, we weren’t talking about a ton of specific features in Outpost, because I think it’s more important for you to understand how teams work together and how they can collaborate better in a shared inbox tool. What does it actually look like for teams to be collaborating with each other, handing things off, and working together to actually improve.
So that’s the vision I wanted to cast for you today. If you do have specific questions about your team email solution, whether you’re using Outpost, or whether you’re thinking about it, we can help you with that. We can answer direct specific questions in just a short 20-30 minute call. So, go ahead and set up a call with our team. We can answer questions about your specific setup and get those questions answered as fast as possible. If you have not yet started a free trial, go ahead and start one today. You go to teamoutpost.com/signup, and we’ll get connected with you as soon as possible to help you really evaluate how Outpost can take your team to the next level.
So I think that’s it. So we want to thank you for joining us today. Again, feel free to reach out and we will send this as a recorded webinar. I know some people had to drop out early and that’s great, but we will pass this on as a recording. You can share it with your team so that they can see some ideas about how you guys can work together. And yeah, with that, I think we can close this out. What do you think Peter?
I think that’s great, Jonathan. Good work, keeping this tight to 30 minutes, but tune in to the future times with us. We’re going to have more tips from the field, we’re going to have more observations from other small businesses out there. That’s our Friday time. We’re keeping it tight though to these 30-minute segments. So thanks to everyone for being four minutes over with us. I hope this was insightful for you. Follow up with any questions. We have customer success guides for you, specifically to answer your specific questions. I know we had a lot here in the questions panel. I tried to get to as many as possible today. Look forward to talking some more. Thanks for the time today everybody.
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