What Monsters Are Lurking in Your Team's Inboxes?

Companies need not search through scary amounts of emails and attachments to find a valuable client communication.

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By Geoff Mcqueen

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For many professionals, the monsters imagined in childhood have now become real at work, lurking in their 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 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 a business to automatically track client emails, so a team isn't surprised when something unexpected pops up.

Traditional email causes problems when it comes to client communication. Email interaction often takes place between one staff person and a client and the rest of the team is left in the dark. It's difficult for other members of a team to know if client issues were addressed or if the client has 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. Traditional email just doesn't allow project managers to keep track of the emails each team member is sending or receiving from clients. This means they can't maintain control over the client work they're responsible for advancing.

Account and project managers are out of the loop in terms of daily activities because of the inefficiencies of email. Sure, carbon copies could be sent for each message, but when most chatter is just noise, the volume of email irrelevant to a manager's responsibilities would become overwhelming.

Related: Achieve a Leaner Inbox With These 3 Fit Tips

But when things do come up (perhaps because a key client is calling with a hairy monster of a problem), the manager is in the dark. He or she is forced to track down people and play detective to find information (usually buried in inboxes out of reach).

Most companies, however, are resistant to changing the traditional email process and the struggle between having too much email 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.

Related: A 2-Step Solution to Tame the Email Beast

The best way is to make sure that the technology then groups the avalanche of email by client and project so that a user can easily see what's going on when desired. 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.

Of course, if everyone's inbox were thrown completely open, there would be even more problems. Some things should be kept just between two people. Most employees send personal emails at work when appropriate, and while these emails are harmless, the staffers probably don't want their colleagues to gain access.

Similarly, at times employers may have certain conversations internally or one-on-one with clients and all parties are better off if these messages are 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 tools 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 the company accountant. In this instance the CEO would prefer his (or her) emails not be captured and shared widely.

Seek out tools that allow for making certain contacts private or hiding a conversations between certain contacts. Privacy is an important part of email and can remain that way with the right technology.

Technology has come too far, for businesses to continue enduring the inefficiencies of traditional email inboxes. Today's professional services businesses interact with clients and colleagues almost entirely via email, so why must people still be forced to search through haunted houses full of a scary amount of emails and lost attachments?

If it's possible to preserve the inherent privacy associated with email, there's no reason to still be scared of the monsters lurking in our inbox the work inwork. When a business invests in email automation tools, employees can spend their valuable time efficiently doing the job they were hired to do.

Related: 7 Ways to Detox Your Inbox

Geoff Mcqueen

Founder and CEO of AffinityLive

San Francisco-based Geoff McQueen is the founder and CEO of AffinityLive, a company that creates cloud-based email automation, customer-relationship management, project management, service and billing software for the professional service sector. Prior to founding AffinityLive, McQueen created a digital agency in Australia.

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