Are there monsters lurking in your team's inbox?

31-Oct 2014
Madison

Our CEO Geoff McQueen wrote up an awesome article (and you bet it's Halloween themed) for Entrepreneur.com today! You can check it out below:


Entrepreneur.com - For many professionals, the monsters that you created in your imagination as a child have become real at work. But, these monsters are no longer under your bed: they're lurking in your inbox. Project managers in service based business settings are often left in the dark when it comes to client communications. Key emails between colleagues and clients are private and usually difficult to retrieve at a moment’s notice. Business is a team sport, but email is an isolated hermit. Email automation technology can make it easier for your whole business to automatically track client emails, so you and your team aren't surprised when something unexpected pops up to bite you.

Are you afraid of the dark?

Traditional email causes problems when it comes to client communication. Email interaction often happens between one team member and a client and the rest of the team is left in the dark. It’s difficult for team members to know if client issues were addressed or if a client has already been contacted about a certain issue or project. Similarly, project managers can’t even see what’s going on with client interactions because traditional email isn’t set up that way (they might as well be wearing those creepy monster masks with no eye holes every day). Traditional email just doesn't exist in a way where project managers can actually keep track of the emails every team member on a project they are overseeing is sending and receiving from clients - meaning they can’t get control over the client work they are responsible for pushing forward.

Account and project managers are out of the loop when it comes to daily activities because of the inefficiencies of email. Sure, you could demand to get CCed on everything, but when most chatter is just noise you'll drown quickly and be overwhelmed with emails and tasks irrelevant to your daily responsibilities. But when things do come up - usually because a key client is calling with a hairy monster of a problem - you're in the dark and forced to track people down and act like a detective trying to find information, usually buried in inboxes out of your reach.

Most companies, however, are resistant to change the traditional email process, and the vicious struggle to find a balance between too many emails and being left in the dark continues. Email automation tools can fix this. Look for technology that tracks emails based on clients or projects and captures them for later review in a centralized location to which all team members have access - but make sure this technology doesn't just substitute dozens of inboxes for one big intimidating mess. The best way is to make sure the technology groups the avalanche of email by client and by project, so you can easily see what's going on when you care. Additionally, email automation tools can store attachments to avoid the dreaded inbox search for something received in an attachment days, weeks or even months later.

Some skeletons belong in the closet

Of course, if everyone's inbox were thrown completely open we'd have even more problems. Some things - many things - should be kept between two people. Most employees send personal emails at work when appropriate, and while these emails are harmless, you probably don’t want your colleagues to have access. Similarly, employers may have conversations either internally or one on one with clients that are much better off staying personal and not shared with the entire team.

Most email automation tools address this too and can spot when the sender is someone other than a client or a colleague - the best ones actually ignore emails unless they're from or to a client contact. Additionally, email tracking features can be turned off when it’s between two colleagues or for certain clients (such as a client who also happens to be the company accountant - you won't want the CEO's emails being captured and shared widely then!). Look for tools that allow you to pick contacts that are private or hide the conversations between certain contacts. Privacy is an important part of email, and can remain that way with the right technology.

No more haunted houses

When it comes to technology, we’ve come too far to continue relying on the inefficiencies of traditional email inboxes when operating a business - we all know monsters are lurking there, and the worst thing is that we can't see them, but they can still give us a nasty fright.

Today’s professional services businesses interact with clients and colleagues almost entirely via email, so why are we still forced to search through haunted houses full of a scary amount of emails and lost attachments? If we’re able to preserve the inherent privacy associated with email, there’s no reason we should still be scared of the monsters lurking in our inbox at work. When a business invests in email automation tools, employees can spend their valuable time doing the job they were hired to do and at their most efficient level.

Read more articles from CEO Geoff McQueen on Entrepreneur.com

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