Challenges With Forwarding Your Personal Address
We get it — you've discovered what a wonderful tool Help Scout is for managing your collaborative email, and it seems like maybe it would be a good idea to move ALL of your email into the app. We're glad you're excited and Help Scout truly shines when bringing multiple people and teams together to work in a shared space to help your customers, but the app just isn't designed to be a replacement for your email service for individual email addresses.
In this guide, we'll cover why we advise against bringing individual addresses into the Help Scout fold.
First things first, let's start by marking the difference between a User and a Mailbox:
A User in Help Scout is typically a single person that is logging in to the app, to answer emails.
They have an email address tied to their User profile, and the email address is the login identifier. Typically, a User email address will be that person's individual email address at your organization, e.g. firstname.lastname@example.org. A Mailbox in Help Scout is meant to be a shared mailbox that multiple members of your team need to manage.
This address is typically a general address, e.g. email@example.com.
A User address should not be the same as any Mailbox address, and we don't recommend using Help Scout to manage the inbox of a personal individual email. Here's why:
Help Scout isn't designed to be a personal email client.
Help Scout's help desk product is specifically designed to work with group email addresses — for example, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, etc. — in which multiple members of your team will be working to manage the email. Your team can work together in a mailbox without stepping on toes, but you're still able to maintain a human connection with your customers. All aspects of the email management and branding features in Help Scout are conceived and built upon with that collaborative environment in mind.
By contrast, collaborative email is a challenge in traditional email apps because they're designed to be 1:1. They offer many features and options that make managing an individual email address easy and more productive that Help Scout does not have. The help desk product is just not meant to replace your email client or app for all of your organization's email!
You need to work exclusively from Help Scout.
If you're forwarding everything from a personal address, you must reply from Help Scout only to keep things working. If you reply from your web-based inbox or email client/app, Help Scout is unable to see those replies and track the contact. This will break the conversation chain and you won't see your replies in Help Scout, which can make things very confusing. You'll find that emails are not threading together in conversations as you would want them to and you'll lose the ability to report on those conversations as a whole. After you set an address to forward to a Help Scout mailbox, you only want to use Help Scout to manage that email.
You can't use the email notification features.
If your User address is the same as the Mailbox address, we won't send email notifications for that Mailbox to your User to keep things from getting messy. There are a lot of different email notifications that Help Scout can generate to help you keep on top of things — see Manage Help Scout Notifications for more on those — but Help Scout can't send those email notifications when User & Mailbox are the same, because they'd just go to the Mailbox and get into an email loop that will cause a big mess for you and us!
This means you're unable to receive email notifications or use any of the email notification tools, like the option to Respond to Email Notifications to Take Action in Help Scout.
All in all, while we won't stop you from using Help Scout to manage individual email, we don't recommend it. Our roadmap doesn't include any changes to manage individual email but Help Scout will continue to be improved for collaborative email management, allowing your team to work together seamlessly.