If your organization's customer service inbox is busy, but you're not quite ready to move into a dedicated help desk, Gmail filters and labels might be for you. Gmail and its professional cousin G Suite (formerly Google Apps) have a lot of built-in features to help you manage your inbox. You can even use an automation service like Zapier for some of the heavy lifting. Filtering, filing and automating email support tasks can help you provide good customer service and keep your sanity.
Email Aliases and Filtering Basics
You can use either Gmail or G Suite email for customer support. Gmail and G Suite share many of the same features. You can filter incoming messages by sender, subject line and a variety of other criteria. G Suite has the added advantage of email aliases plus an administrative dashboard to manage them. An email alias is perfect for message filtering. G Suite supports up to 30 aliases per primary email address. You can set up an alias for sales, general questions, technical support or whatever categories you need. A regular Gmail account also supports email aliases, but without the management features available in G Suite.
Organizing with Labels
You can begin with common departments or product lines. Whatever works well for you. Gmail and G Suite support nested labels so you may wish to save all customer requests under a central label, then sort accordingly. Something like this should get you started:
- Customer Requests
- General Sales
Creating Email Aliases
Before you begin sorting messages, you'll need to set up email aliases. New email aliases can be added through the G Suite administrator dashboard. Aliases can be edited or removed at any time.
Filtering New Messages
Test your new alias(es) by sending a new message to each one. You can use the test messages to set up filters. You'll need to create a filter for each label you intend to use. From the filter menu, choose the option to filter messages according to the TO field. You can choose to have all new messages tagged and remain in the inbox, or sent directly to the tag (skipping the inbox).
Set Up an Auto Responder
Now that you have created email aliases, labels and filters, you can set up an auto-responder for new requests. With Zapier, you can set up a simple auto-responder that confirms a new message has been received by your team. The automated response can be triggered when a new message arrives in one of your customer support labels. When setting up the automatic response, be sure to include relevant information about your support hours and a link to your FAQ page.
Review and Track Requests
Now all new messages sent to your aliases will be sorted into appropriate labels and new requests will receive a confirmation message. You will plainly see how many unread messages are awaiting response for each label. Once you resolve an issue, you can add it to a RESOLVED label. Each message can have multiple labels so requests will be visible from both the original destination and the RESOLVED label.
If you'd like to keep track of solved requests, you can do so with Zapier. New messages labeled RESOLVED can be added to a spreadsheet automatically. Each message labeled RESOLVED will be given a new line in a designated spreadsheet. You can get a quick overview of the number of solved cases and frequently asked questions. You can use this information to improve your sites FAQ section in the future.
Maintaining a responsive customer support department of any size can be a challenge. Automating the organization of your inbox can help bring order to the chaos. Better customer support can mean more sales in the future.