Bringing all incoming communications into one place
Carefree is seeking to mobilise the hospitality industry to gift its excess capacity so that the unpaid carers who form the invisible backbone of our Social Care system can take a break. Previously dealing with many different email inboxes for different types of support requests and inbound enquiries from many different channels like Facebook and Twitter, they have switched to using Front to consolidate everything into one place and ensure that no piece of communication slips through the cracks.
This recipe has been in use since March 2020.
We are not sharing this recipe as the perfect solution to a problem, but we believe Carefree’s learnings could be very useful to other organisations.
Users and needs served
As a Carefree staff member working across different teams (e.g. hospitality engagement, customer support, marketing and communication etc.) I need to ensure that every piece of incoming communication is dealt with by the right person.
As a carer, I need to get the most appropriate answer to my question or feedback in a swift and friendly way.
Front is a collaborative email client and live chat for customer service - it works with shared inboxes and allows organisations to discuss a piece of inbound communication in a conversation thread or assign a task to a team member. It offers chat channels for internal communication.
From $9 a month for a ‘Starter’ account (7 day free trial). Pro packages are $50/month. If you contact them, they might offer you a better deal.
Front allows you to see emails from several individual inboxes at once, or share a unified inbox across the whole team. It also integrates with social media messages from Facebook, Instagram and Twitter - staff can reply to them without leaving the programme. Emails or chat messages can be assigned to individuals to answer and messages can be discussed between team members.
Carefree are using Cloudtalk to allow their staff members to take calls from carers. Cloudtalk is a virtual call centre for customer service meaning that call agents can work from anywhere.
From $15 a month for a ‘Starter’ account (14 Day free trial). If you contact them, they might offer you a better deal.
Cloudtalk integrates into Front to add call centre functionality, meaning you can make and receive calls and voicemails from within Front. All the calls made through Cloudtalk also get logged with the user's profile inside Pipedrive (a CRM software Carefree uses) so you can perfectly see who and when made a call and what was said.
1. Choose a communication tool
Carefree chose to use Front because it allows them to share an inbox and discuss incoming communication amongst the team – alternatives with similar features include Missive and Hiver
2. Reduce Number of email addresses
Before centralising their incoming communication, Carefree had many different email addresses for different issues - since Front allows the whole team to share one inbox, they first centralised everything into one simple email address. This also allows them to keep track of who has seen each email to comply with GDPR.
3. Set up shared email inbox in Front
Front allows multiple team members to share the same inbox, so Carefree added relevant team members to their ‘[email protected]’ email address to make it as easy as possible for people to contact them about any subject. They can then make sure that the right person sees the email rather than asking the person contacting them to figure out which email account is the right one for their problem or question. Members who aren’t monitoring the inbox can still be assigned to emails, meaning people don’t need to be constantly monitoring the inbox looking for emails relevant to them.
4. Integrate Cloudtalk with Front
Front can be integrated with many different communication tools. Carefree chose to integrate with Cloudtalk so that they can make and receive phone calls and voicemails from the same app. Voicemails can then be discussed and assigned in the same way as emails and social media messages.
5. Receive communication
When someone sends an email to Carefree’s shared inbox, leaves a voicemail or contacts them on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, team members will see every piece of communication in the same place.
6. Discuss the communication
Carefree team members discuss pieces of communication when they arrive in the inbox. The chat takes place below an email, voicemail or social media message so that everyone that views it will also see the discussion about it.
7. Assign to staff member
Carefree then uses Front to ‘assign’ emails, voicemails and social media messages to team members. This means that all team members know who is responsible for dealing with each piece of communication but team members aren’t inundated with information. If you have specific people who deal with certain types of enquiry, you can set up ‘rules’ to automatically assign someone to them. After a team member has replied to an email, voicemail or social media message, subsequent emails from the same person will be automatically assigned to them.
Introduce tools gradually
Introducing too many new tools at a time can result in change fatigue. Carefree would suggest doing it gradually. In Carefree’s case, this was difficult since they are a brand new team and they are setting up many operational tools and procedures in a very short time.
Carefree made sure to involve everyone as much as possible in the introduction of the tool so that they felt comfortable using it. They set aside time for team members to watch videos and read documentation about the new tools. New tools can only live up to their potential if everyone that has to use them is onboard. Carefree also monitors how tools are actually being used in practice and update their procedures accordingly.
Support staff throughout
Consider different ways to support staff in the shift. Carefree is working on a "Golden Handbook" for all their tools and processes. A reference document inside Notion which acts as a "team brain" and that people can visit to get a quick overview of dos and don'ts for specific tools. This handbook will be a very dynamic document that evolves while the team grows and while their processes get refined.
To mitigate the risk of emails still going to old addresses, Carefree forwarded everything that goes to old inboxes to their new unified address. There is still the risk of emails being missed if the whole team is not on board in using the new tools, but Carefree helped to mitigate this by setting up alerts if an email hasn’t been responded to in a certain amount of time.
Carefree were scared to lose their current phone number when porting it from the old provider to CloudTalk. CloudTalk offered awesome customer support, and the porting went fine.
With Cloudtalk, there's a risk that phone call quality over the internet may not be as good compared to normal phone calls. This said, Carefree haven't had any issues with this yet. If you are considering making the switch, make sure you've got a good, stable and fast internet connection to avoid poor quality phone calls.
Points of contact
For further information about this recipe, you can contact:
Many thanks to Carefree for contributing this recipe.
Do you have thoughts on this recipe? We would love to hear from you.