One of the main challenges finance teams deal with is high email volume. It’s a tough problem to solve—and many people think the only way to get it under control is to hire more people to handle them. But there could be another way! That’s what Front helped Zumper do: get a high volume of email under control to manage their accounts receivable operations smoothly.
Zumper is an online rental platform that makes it easy to search, tour, and apply for rental homes. More than 80 million renters find their new home each year through their platform, which means their finance teams are kept very busy. We’ll walk through the challenges the Zumper team was experiencing and the processes they set up in Front to transform their AR operations.
So let’s dive in: what’s so challenging about managing a high volume of email?
Managing a high volume of email: Why is it so hard?
Managing a ton of emails every day has obvious challenges: responding to it all and even opening them all each day is part of the challenge. But there are a lot of other issues at play with high email volume:
It’s tough to get emails into the right hands to reply: Getting emails to the right person on your team to respond can be difficult—especially when you’re managing a wide range of requests like most finance teams do. Often, there are people specializing or handling specific areas of expertise, so emails need to get to them to get a reply.
Responding on time is hard: When money is involved, things are timely. Finance teams know this best. People need and want responses to their emails quickly especially when an invoice is overdue, or a billing issue is in question.
There is no accountability over emails: When you’re sifting through incoming emails and your team is working at warp speed each day, it’s only natural for a handful to slip through the cracks. Since you don’t have a clear way to identify who on the team is handling what, the lack of clarity means there’s an even higher chance of a message not getting a reply.
Working together on email is tough: Collaborating with your team on email often requires hitting reply-all or moving to a separate chat thread to discuss the email. This slows down conversations and contributes to the difficulty responding on time mentioned above.
For the finance team at Zumper, they were dealing with all the above. Their accounts receivable team manages billing, collections, cash applications, and more. Bryant Lee, Sr. Manager of Accounts Receivable, said their AR team needed better visibility and the ability to work collaboratively on customer inquiries and approvals related to customer requests.
Solving the high email volume problem
The first step to solving the high email volume was using Front. “It was an easy decision for me,” Bryant said. He chose Front for various reasons: organization, ease of setup, user-friendly, and others. But most importantly, he saw how Front could help manage high email volume.
1. Managing all email in shared inboxes
Bryant moved all their email communication into Front and set up shared inboxes for finance communication. In those shared inboxes, everyone can access the same emails and see the status of everything—what’s new and hasn’t been replied to, what’s been answered, and more.
They use Front’s shared inboxes to mirror their team structure. They can assign owners, move emails into the correct shared inbox, and use discussions to have quick chats on action items. “Our email volume is quite high, sometimes hundreds of emails per day—and everything is so much more streamlined with Front,” Bryant said. With all the context in one place, the team has more time to collaborate on incoming messages, distribute as needed, and respond on time.
2. Setting up tags to label messages
Next, Bryant set up tags in Front to prioritize and categorize requests. The team has been able to act faster on what’s in the queue and see trends over time. Tags also allow them to sort out requests faster and give teams a sense of confidence, knowing messages are being sent to the right place and person. “We look at what’s still open, review tags during our 1:1s for quality, and use tags to better understand what sort of requests are coming in.” Bryant said.
3. Responding on time with SLA rules
With every incoming request, the Zumper team has a tight SLA for replying. They use rules in Front to automatically route, triage, and escalate messages before the deadline. Rules allow teams to automate workflows. They can handle repetitive tasks to save time and increase efficiency. Front also gives teams the ability to create rules for individuals and teams. Zumper has been able to stay on top of every message coming in with their rules set up to route messages to the right person and inbox.
These rules apply tags to highlight which messages are close to breaching, so the team knows what to focus on first.
4. Moving collaboration into the same place as the emails themselves
Zumper’s AR and Client Service team need to work together to get approvals made quickly. Before using Front, they worked together by forwarding emails or replying-all, which made it difficult to see which emails were most pressing. Instead, they moved this internal communication into internal-only comments that live directly on email threads in Front.
Teammates can create internal comments on customer messages to share context and work together to create appropriate responses. The Zumper team also benefits from using shared drafts, allowing teammates to review messages and make edits if needed. “We use comment and shared draft features to ensure high standards of messaging.” Bryant said.
Finance teams work more efficiently with Front
Managing high email volume can be done by building some simple automation and ensuring everyone has access to the information they need to reply to emails. And when you’re getting work done faster, it’s a win-win: you can spend more time on strategic projects that move the business forward. Email is a mess, and we get it—Front is here to give teams a better way to manage high email volume with ease.
Written by Jonny Parker
Originally Published: 25 September 2021