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How to turn Gmail into a Helpdesk?

If you’re a startup, you’ve probably already asked yourself this at least once: should we move to a real Helpdesk now? 

The switching cost is high and it’s not just about the money.

Most good helpdesks come packed with features that you don’t need at first. The interface is unfamiliar and sometimes even confusing. When you have to respond to dozens of messages every day, learning a new interface and getting productive is not exactly your priority.

Switching to a dedicated Helpdesk can be scary indeed. But don’t worry! There are cool ways to use Gmail for Support efficiently. Most of our customers at Gorgias do, so we thought it could be useful to share best practices. 

Are you ready? Let’s get started!

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Getting your team onboard with delegation

Gmail has a little known feature to make an inbox collaborative: delegation. It allows sharing an inbox with your team.
In your Google Apps account create an separate inbox for support@company.com and invite your team members as delegates on it.*

Everyone will have access to all emails, and will be able to see each other’s responses. Not only that but you can also see who sent the e-mail even if they forgot to sign it.

Set up an automatic response to requests

When a request comes in, it’s a good practice to acknowledge reception with an automatic email, and to tell the user when he can expect a response. You can also send a link to your documentation.

Hey There! Your request has been received and is being reviewed by our support staff. We normally respond within 1 business day or less. In the meantime, you can review our FAQ here.

Use the vacation responder to setup an automatic response

Email routing

When an email comes in, there are two things you need to do: assign it to a team & determine priority.

Create a label for each type of request you get. It can be Tech Support, Payments, Basic questions. Then, you can assign a folder to a member of your team, who’ll be responsible for responding to requests there.
A team member should be responsible for ticket assignment. He’ll regularly assign emails to the right folder. A cool feature to know when you need to check the support inbox it the Unread message icon.

Instantly know how many emails are pending assignment.

You can use automation here as well. Create rules based on email subject to automatically assign it to the right folder (e.g. any subject containing the word “Refund” will automatically go to payments).

To determine priority, you can use stars in Gmail. They are available in the settings, under the General tab. You can also setup rules for that.

Collaborate on emails

If you’d like to ping some, you can forward the email to the person you need help from (not sure about whether it’s useful). Once a conversation is closed, the Support person can simply archive it.

Tips & tricks

Enable shortcuts

Enable the “undo” button in Labs

Use templates

Google canned responses are pretty limited and complex to insert. Your best friend can help you with that: Gorgias

We are constantly looking for ways to use Gmail better for support. Do you use it yourself for this? Do you have any additional tips?

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