Automate Your Inbox

Many of us are being asked to do more with less, no matter what type of business we work in. Like those of you who work in e-commerce, customers might be buying from you in greater volumes than ever. And while those sales are up, it also puts a lot of pressure on support teams who are supporting more orders and more customers with the same, or potentially even fewer resources.

This escalation in work increases the chance of mistakes we might make while providing help, which can lead to reduced customer happiness. The same goes for those of us who work in software or other online areas, we have a lot of customers to take care of but are being asked to handle an extra load with limited people resources. 
Many emails we receive are very important, and some may even be incredibly urgent. But your team can easily get tied up dealing with less urgent questions, and those important or urgent emails can slip down in your inbox. All the while your team is handling things that don’t especially need a human touch right at the start, or even emails that can be answered with just a few clicks of a button.

That is where an automation tool can come in and help your team gain that time back.

In Help Scout we call automations Workflows, and they can be used in an almost infinite number of ways to help you save time, and free your team up to do more productive things in their day to day instead of doing what amounts to just a lot of busy work.

What can I automate?

As support pros, one main thing we need to be aware of is how long it is taking us to get back to customers. Even just a visual indicator or way to group those aging emails together can help the team prioritize those customers that have been waiting the longest amount of time to hear back from you. 

Using an automation you can check to see how long an email has been waiting for a reply, like for more than 5 hours, and then add a tag to that email and also copy it to folder. Members of your team could exclusively work from that folder until those emails have all been replied to. You could also use the same type of automation to highlight other things in your inbox, like if the subject line of an email has the word “return” or “exchange”, then that could be categorized and organized for specific handling as well.

Categorizing emails can be super helpful when it comes to accountability as well, such as when you might need to report on email volume and types of requests to your leadership team. Doing that manually could mean forgetting to categorize those emails, and also extra clicks that your team has to perform which add up over time. Automating the process to add a tag to an email based on a keyword in the subject line or body of the email will save you a lot of time in the long run, but also ensure that your reporting is as accurate as it can be. 

Auto replies from your support inbox are a very common practice, but they aren’t all that flexible either. Customers write in about many different issues, and sometimes that standard “we’ve received your email” response just isn’t enough, nor is the best experience. Instead of using that one size fits all auto reply, set up a few automations to look for keywords in the subject or body of an email to then send a specialized and more personalized auto response right back to that customer. 

Automation does not have to be fully handled by a “machine” either! Some customer interactions need a human to read and process something, but then can use automation to take care of any actions that need to be taken. If you receive certain types of emails that need the same steps done, an automation can be applied to them manually to do things like categorize the email, collaborate with your teammates on it, and even send a reply back to the customer with one click of a button.

Other Resources

Everywhere we’ve referred to automations here can be done using workflows in Help Scout. If you would like to give things a try, set up a few automations, here’s a few other resources to help you get started. 

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