In 2014 my team had a issue we were using a standard shared IMAP inbox. Using thunderbird to connect and tags to distribute the work to the team members. This was fine when we had a single sales person working on the inbox and email volume was low. But business was picking up and so was the volume of emails coming in. We were managing but every so often an email would go astray. This was either due to human error or an over zealous junk email filter. We needed a better solution.Too Many IMAP Folders

The standard communication method in the business world is email. Instant chat tools like Slack, Hipchat and Google Hangouts. These tools do bridge the gap between communities and teams for much more rapid communication. Internally we use Hipchat and its good. There are some issues due to the rate that chats progress. Team members can miss out on vial info. Especially notifications and tags are not correctly setup.

Most communication platforms are closed. Requiring an invitation or a corporate email to access the message service.

At the end of the day email is still the number one communication tool between two parties external to each other i.e business X to business Y.

The unfortunate thing about that; traditional email clients are not exactly designed for teams. Maybe that is a support team or a sales team. If you are struggling with this you are probably using Outlook or Thunderbird.

Auditing a IMAP Inbox – Impossible

What audit is available to ensure that no customer emails have been accidentally filed away? Usually not before they have sent another email complaining about a slow response.

For a long time the industry has identified this for support teams with the likes of FreshDesk, Zendesk, Desk and many similar solutions.

Outside of solutions for support teams there are not many options.Especially if you have a bog standard IMAP email server. If you are lucky enough to have your external facing mailbox setup inside Gsuite or an MS Exchange then you have quite a few solutions that are plugin and play.

Collaborative Inbox inside Gsuite

A bare minimum solution, a shared inbox using google groups. This was one of the options that we considered but unfortunately we could not move forward due to organisational constraints.

Constant Contact

Constant Contact is a plugin for Gmail that would allow users manage a sales inbox. Unfortunately it requires a gmail or exchange server so again due to the organisational constraints again this was not an option either.

HelpMonks

At the time this solution was OK but not ideal due to its limited functionality. Since this time HelpMonks has progresses considerably. Today HelpMonks aimed at support teams and works best with Gsuite.

There are many others but most of them depend on gmail or an exchange server. For our team this was out of question… We needed a solution that would work with a traditional IMAP server.

So what about a solution for the rest of the world?

In 2016 Intercom was focused on support teams so was Zendesk. FreshSales was new; and did not have features required for most teams. Especially if you were already using SalesForce.

We needed a solution that would work with our existing IMAP inbox. It needed to allow collaboration between the sales, accounting and marketing teams. And also have integration to the other tools; Salesforce, Twitter, Facebook etc.

At the time there was really only one solution that fit the bill the solution we chose was FrontApp. With the introduction to FrontApp it completely changes our sales team. Allowing us to rapidly expand while delivering a better service to our customers.

FrontApp Logo

Soon there will be a post explaining our journey from a Standard IMAP inbox to FrontAPP

Written by David Thacker if you have any questions do not hesitate to leave a comment or get in touch.