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Hello,

I'm sure the community here has ample experience managing shared mailboxes, so I'd like some suggestions on how we should manage ours.

I have a small team of people who deliver 9 IT help desks. Each help desk has a mailbox. Each mailbox requires more than 1 person to manage due to the volume of mail we recieve.

We cannot implement any new software or tools and are currently using Microsoft Outlook.

Currently each analyst tags the email with their own 'colour' to let others know they are working on that email, but due to the delay in office caching and our network, it can be several minutes before the 'colour' shows up on another analysts mailbox, meaning we often get 2 analysts working on the same email.

Do you have any clever ways of managing your team mailbox that I could use or adapt to suit my team?

tracy.a's picture

Hi Ach, if you get an answer I'd like to know too. We have a similar set up.

techmgr's picture

Hi, I'm trying to understand the workflow. Do emails to the Helpdesk not trigger any ticket creation? So, your Helpdesk doesn't work in tickets at all, only email? Or, are these emails in addition to a ticketing system? Perhaps this dual intake method could be reconsidered.

What's the expectation for replying? Slowing down the rate of replies and requiring everyone to wait 30 mins would solve the issue of the delay on flagging the email. And have a rule that only flagged emails can be worked. That eliminates the chance of replying while waiting for the flag to propagate. I can't imagine that there's an expectation that all emails need to be responded to immediately. If the bottleneck is this delay in the color appearing then eliminate the constraint by making the color flagging propagation time a non-issue. 

Why are you limited to Outlook? You could install a free, non-outlook email client like thunderbird. Outlook is bloated and slow. When I worked in a Helpdesk and shared a mailbox we used ultra-lightweight apps and we replied to customer inquiries simply and quickly. We just bcc'd the Helpdesk address on the reply. 

There are kanban tools that work with Outlook. Or if you all share a space you can create a kanban board yourselves.

There are lots of server side tricks to flag emails before they reach the mailbox, but I assume you don't have control there. 

Sorry if none of this is helpful. I hope that you are able to retool in the near future. I think the best solution is a ticket system for intake and processing of all Helpdesk email. 

 

Non Typical IT Guy's picture

I have worked in similar situations (though using ticking systems instead of emails). One very effective solution would be to assign a queue monitor, who would triage all incoming mail and assign it to the correct analyst based on help desk location, workload and knowledge of the particular incident or request. I would think one queue monitor who covers all mailboxes would be best, but a queue monitor per help desk would also work. I would also have this be a rotating position, have one person assigned to it for a week or two.

This has additional benefits of increasing communication and knowledge transfer between help desk. To help with this part I would require "warm transfers" for incidents/requests with a high impact or urgency, or for more complex incidents/requests. A "warm transfer" would be a call from the queue monitor to the analyst that is going to receive the ticket/email, to let them know that it is incoming and urgent, or to ensure that they are the correct person to handle the issue.

I have worked with similar setups before and it can be highly effective to increase response rate, communication, and knowledge transfer between people and areas. You won't have to worry about multiple analysts working on the same email, because no one is going to be working on anything that hasn't been assigned to them. And you have someone who will have a very good overview of all emails coming in who can easily spot patterns and bigger issues as they emerge. Another benefit is that this will eliminate analysts cherry picking emails, which can create a situation where a undesirable email may sit in the inbox with no one looking at it because everyone is waiting for someone else to take it.

Kevin1's picture

Hi Ach

This may or may not help you out depending on the caching delays....give this a try

When you open an email in Microsoft Outlook for viewing purposes, it is a little known feature that the subject field is actually editable.

You could have a system where on opening a new mail from the shared inbox, the team member adds his name to the start of the subject field and then saves the email.   This will change the subject field in the shared inbox to include their name and would therefore indicate to others that the email is already being handled by person named in the subject. 

In addition, if for some reason the team member wanted to put it back in the queue, they can re-edit their name out of the subject and resave.  Similarly, it can be reassigned in this manner also.

This should work, but I cannot speak for the delays in your system.

Hope this helps.

Kind regard

Kevin

 

romulangirl1973's picture

How do you edit the subject field?  We are new to using a group inbox and this might be helpful.  I can't seem to figure out how to edit it the subject field though.

Kevin1's picture

Open a mail.

Click on the subject field.  It won't immediately be obvious that it is editable, but you can now type, use delete key, etc.

After editing it, you have to save the changes.

Once saved, the subject has been updated.

pageyw's picture

Hi there! I was excited to find this information and will be reviewing the feedback people of shared, great tips I may be able to use! The shared mailbox my team uses is for customer service, so not exactly the same concepts that may work for IT, but what we do is immediately "REPLY ALL" that we are reviewing the email. This is something our customers love because they receive confirmation that someone has it. Thus truly works great too because if someone is working on it and actually has questions or replies with an answer, the customer may come back with a reply while our person is at lunch or away, and someone else on the team can pick up where they left off. I will review these other tips to see if I can make any further enhancements to our process! Thanks again!