If your business is like most, chances are that your team spends a lot of time responding to email. In fact, it’s estimated each person sends and receives an average of 127 business emails per day. While that number may sound large, most email clients have features like labels and filters that can help you tame your inbox on an individual level. The point where things start to get tricky is when email duties need to be shared across a team.
It’s fairly common for companies to start off managing team email by creating mailing lists that route messages to their related departments (e.g., sales@, support@, etc.) or by sharing the credentials for a dedicated email address. This works well enough when a team is small, but as your staff and email volume increase, it can become easy for messages to fall through the cracks.
Managing email using a shared inbox
A better way to manage communication is through the use of a shared inbox — dedicated email management software that brings all of your incoming communications into one centralized location, making it easier to stay on top of email requests as a team.
A shared inbox can:
Create accountability: Emails can be assigned to specific team members, ensuring transparency and that everyone knows which messages they are responsible for.
Promote collaboration: Shared inbox platforms allow you to tag and leave notes for other employees when their help is needed to resolve a request.
Increase organization and productivity:Shared inboxes typically have features like tags and custom fields that can help keep communications organized, and they often have automation features to help with repetitive tasks.
Improve security: Each user has their own login information, keeping access to your inbox safe and secure.
Quantify your efforts: Shared inboxes come with reporting and analytics capabilities, giving insights into your team’s performance.
The 11 best shared inbox software options for improved collaboration
If you’re looking for a better way to manage email across your organization, here are 11 shared inbox tools that can help any team provide better email support.
Outlook shared mailbox
Google Collaborative Inbox
HubSpot Service Hub
1. Help Scout
Best shared inbox software for teams providing multi-channel support.
Help Scout's shared inbox has many features designed to make it easier for teams to stay productive, collaborate seamlessly, and deliver exceptional email support.
Reduce complexity for your audience
While some email management tools interrupt your conversations with ticket numbers and login portals, Help Scout is invisible to those who reach out for your support. All they get is a helpful response to their questions.
Additionally, when your team picks up a conversation, they have immediate access to that sender’s full profile: what they’ve asked you before, their account history, and quick links to other internal systems.
With the full context readily available to them, your team can give a much more personalized and useful reply without slowing their response times. Plus, no one has to suffer through a back-and-forth email chain of you asking for account information.
Respond and collaborate as a team in the same space
When you need assistance from another member of your team, you typically have to take that conversation out of your inbox; otherwise, you run the risk of accidentally copying the sender on a message that was intended to be private.
Help Scout's shared inbox solves this problem with private notes that appear in-line with the email text but are only visible to members of your team.
Stop stepping on each others’ toes
In Help Scout, collision detection indicators enable everyone to see who is working on which issue in real time. It’s a simple visual system: A yellow triangle shows you that another user is viewing the conversation, and a red triangle appears if someone else is responding to the conversation.
Plus, collision detection doesn’t allow you to send a message if another person replied during the time you were working on that response.
Take and assign ownership of requests
Conversations in Help Scout can be assigned directly to an individual — or handed to the right team — so that it is clear who is responsible for providing a response.
You can also sort by assignee to ensure that nothing gets dropped in the shuffle if a team member is out for the day or leaves the organization.
Save time and effort with workflows, tags, and saved replies
Your team members are most valuable when they’re spending time understanding problems and solving them — not when they’re clicking around in a messy inbox sorting emails.
Automatically assign billing issues to the finance team.
Identify urgent issues and raise their priorities.
Give your product team an easy way to review customer feedback on particular issues.
Additionally, as trends emerge, you can build a library of saved replies. These are email templates that will help save you the trouble of having to type the same responses over and over.
Use your support conversations to create a better organization
Help Scout’s reporting tools help you turn a stream of conversations into usable insights. Understand your customers, clients, students, or patients better than ever by answering questions like:
When do most people need help, and how responsive are you during those times?
Which support channels do people want to use, and how is that changing over time?
What do people think about a new feature or service, and what language do they use to describe it?
Which types of questions are you best at answering, and which are associated with lower satisfaction?
You can also expand access to your Help Scout data beyond your client-facing teams with light users. This user role grants additional team members access to behind-the-scenes features, such as the ability to view and follow conversations, leave private notes, create and edit Messages, and view reports without taking up a paid seat in your account.
Light user licenses are included in new Plus and Pro plans, making it easy to increase visibility and collaborate across your organization.
Provide more than just email support
A shared inbox is just one of the tools your team gets access to when you sign up for a Help Scout plan. You can also use Help Scout to create a knowledge base, offer live chat support, and send visitors proactive messages or microsurveys while they're browsing your website.
If your organization offers phone support, you can use Help Scout's integrations to funnel those conversations into the system. Your team can prioritize and work more efficiently with everything in a central location.
Price: Free trial available. Plans start at $20/user per month.
Best shared inbox software for very small teams that are already using Outlook.
If your team is using Outlook and needs basic shared inbox functionality, creating a shared mailbox in Outlook may be a good choice. Essentially, it’s an email folder you can invite multiple people to use.
Since it’s not really a tool built for scale, it doesn’t have many bells and whistles. Still, for teams already using Outlook, it doesn’t come at an additional cost.
Price: Free for Microsoft 365 users.
Best shared inbox software for very small teams that are already using Google Workspace.
Very similar to Outlook's shared mailbox, a Google Collaborative Inbox lets teams set up a shared mailbox associated with a Google Group.
Collaborative Inbox has a few more features than Outlook, such as being able to assign emails to specific employees and set email statuses. While not as powerful as other options on this list, it doesn’t cost anything additional, so it can be a good option for small teams.
Price: Free for Google Workspace users.
Best shared inbox software for smaller teams.
If you’re looking for a good all-around support product for small teams, Groove is a good choice. It has an easy-to-use, accessible shared inbox with collaboration tools like conversation assignments, internal comments, mentions, and email templates. For teams ready to move beyond email support, Groove also offers live chat and knowledge base products.
The platform’s pricing plans are competitive but missing some key features offered by its competitors. For instance, Groove doesn’t have a proactive support product, and their rule-based automations only work on new, incoming conversations. Other software options, like Help Scout, can run workflows automatically on existing conversations.
Price: Free trial available. Plans start at $12/user per month.
Best shared inbox software for teams that want to use Gmail.
Another option for teams using Gmail is Hiver. Hiver acts as an add-on to Gmail to make it more robust. The extension allows Hiver subscribers to not only manage email via a shared inbox, but to also branch into other channels like live chat and a knowledge base.
With Hiver’s shared inbox, you’re able to assign emails to specific people and add notes. Other Lite plan features include collision detection, shared drafts, and the ability to tag conversations. The software also offers automation and analytics features, but it should be noted that many of the more advanced features are only offered on higher-cost plans.
Price: Free trial available. Plans start at $15/user per month.
Best shared inbox software for personal email use.
Most shared inbox tools are used to manage a group email address (info@, etc.). However, if your team wants to use both personal and shared email addresses when responding to messages, Front could be a great option.
Front offers email management features as well as some collaborative features like internal comments, shared drafts, canned responses, and internal discussions. The platform supports live chat and integrations with third-party tools, and it also has more advanced features like analytics, automation, and CRM integration on its higher-tier plans.
Price: Free trial available. Plans start at $19/person per month.
Best shared inbox software for social media messaging.
For teams that provide support through phone messages like SMS or WhatsApp and social sites like Twitter and Facebook, Helpwise could be a great option.
In addition to offering email and live chat channels, Helpwise connects with messaging and social platforms, allowing you to manage all of those conversations in one place.
Price: Free trial available. Plans start at $12/user per month.
Best shared inbox software for teams wanting project management capabilities.
Drag is another option for teams that use Google Workspace. Much like Hiver, Drag is an extension that operates on top of your existing Gmail account. This makes for a gentle learning curve when introducing the platform to your team for the first time.
Drag has all of your standard shared inbox features like email assignments, tagging, @mentions, shared drafts, and collision detection. It also has a team chat feature for easy collaboration with teammates.
The big differentiator for Drag is its project management capabilities. Users can choose between visual kanban boards or list views and easily manage tasks and checklists along with their emails. Those looking to opt for their free plan should note that project management features are only included as part of the software’s paid plans.
Price: Free plan and trial available. Paid plans start at $5/user per month.
Best shared inbox software for teams already using HubSpot.
HubSpot is well known for its sales and marketing software, but it also has a product aimed at customer service teams. Service Hub has the basics of what is necessary to manage incoming communications, like a shared inbox and basic reporting capabilities. For those interested in offering chat, they have a live chat product as well.
Teams are often drawn to HubSpot because of the name recognition and the fact that the company offers a free plan. The trouble is that all of the best features for growing teams — automation, user roles, and a knowledge base builder — are only included in the paid plans, which can be quite pricey.
Still, for those who already use HubSpot and would benefit from the integration, Service Hub might be a good option.
Price: Free plan available. Paid plans start at $45 per month (includes two user seats).
Best shared inbox software for team collaboration.
Missive is another shared inbox tool that allows users to bring all of their business emails — individual and shared accounts — into a single workspace. The unified inbox can handle email, social media messages, and live chat. The platform has a host of features like canned responses, conversation assignments, shared labels, and rule-based automation to make handling contacts easier.
Collaboration-wise, Missive’s collaborative writing, team chat, and workflow functionalities make it simple for teams to work together on requests in real time. The platform also has other excellent features like task management abilities and calendar integrations. However, the lack of a knowledge base builder may be a problem for some teams that value self-service.
Price: Free plan available. Paid plans start at $14/user per month.
Best shared inbox software for managing email campaigns.
Gmelius is a shared inbox Gmail add-on that includes a number of features like internal notes, shared labels, email assignment capabilities, and reporting (though on their base plan, they only track up to seven days’ worth of metrics). The software also has project management functionality through kanban boards. You’re able to create tasks, add due dates, and assign those tasks to different users.
A key differentiator for Gmelius is its Sequences feature. It allows teams to easily set up multi-stage email campaigns inside of Gmail without having to subscribe to an additional tool.
Price: Free trial available. Plans start at $12/user per month.
Upgrading to a shared inbox
If your team is running into issues with efficiency, is working over each other when trying to collaborate, or needs more sophisticated reporting tools to keep track of their work, it's probably time to upgrade to a shared inbox tool like the ones listed above.
A shared inbox will go a long way toward ensuring that your customers and clients receive quality support from your team and that your team has the right tools to get the job done.