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Guide - 6 Min Read

Manage customer messages with ease

When it comes to managing customer messages, our approach is to save time sorting through, escalating, and assigning messages and spend it instead on improving the quality of the engagement with your customers. This is a guide on how to adopt that philosophy and make it simple to manage customer messages.

Set your team up for success

Make it easy on yourself and your team by doing some quick work on the backend that’ll make it simple for them to handle incoming messages. 

Roles and permissions

As you add new teammates to a team inbox and expect them to tackle customer communication, be sure to choose the right permissions for each person. 

Default
On any Front plan, you’ll be able to assign each teammate one of two default roles: Team Admin or Team Member. Here’s a table that covers what permissions are enabled for each role. Many leaders choose a selection of teammates to be Team Admins so they can help you create rules, track success with analytics, and keep the team inbox in check. 

Custom
If you have an Enterprise plan, you can create custom roles and permissions. Say you want the Team Lead to be responsible for creating all message templates and rules. Custom roles and permissions allow you to create a role with those unique abilities in Front. Then later down the line, when you want 2 other teammates to do the same, you can simply give them that same role and be on your merry way. 

Shifts and load balancing 

Shifts and load balancing prevent customer messages from getting backed up in your queue, while also preventing individual teammates from being overloaded with work.

When you set up shifts, messages that are typically routed to someone who happens to be off duty will be flagged for someone who is on duty, so customers don’t have to wait for a reply. And, this means that when your teammate returns to work the next day, they aren’t immediately swamped with day-old emails. Another way to support your team is to set up load balancing, which places a limit on how many messages can be assigned to an employee at a given time .  

You can monitor how much work each employee has in your Analytics tab. This way, you have an accurate sense of how much is on someone’s plate and can help distribute the work before your customers start to feel the impact of an overworked team. 

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Turn your inbox into your to-do list

With Front, you don’t use a Read/Unread mentality. Instead, we use Open/Archive. With Open/Archive, your inbox is designed to be more of a checklist rather than a catch all. That way, there’s no confusion around what needs to be done: every message that’s in your inbox’s ‘Open’ tab needs to be worked on.
So instead of leaving read messages left to cause clutter, snooze the ones you’ll get to later, and archive the ones that you don’t need to take action on. Easy emails to archive are:

  • App notifications or reminders

  • Emails informing you of something, but that aren’t prompting anything (think newsletters, daily reports, etc.)

  • Conversations that seem to be ending (they’ll always pop back up if someone pings them again!)

You can find any email in your Archive tab, so rest assured they won’t go missing. This way your open messages can be treated like your daily agenda, you inbox won’t stress you out every time you open your computer, and you won’t accidentally miss messages.

Organize your inbox


There are many ways to sort and triage messages as a team in Front. You get to choose the methodology that works best for you.

Assign messages an owner

With Front you can give every message a clear owner so everyone knows what they’re responsible for handling. When you assign it, the message will appear in that teammate’s “Assigned to me” section of their inbox and will no longer be in the “Unassigned” tab in the team inbox. Your team can move on and rest assured it’s taken care of. 

assignments gif

Tagging 

Create tags to categorize messages by project, client, or urgency. Then, you can pin them to your workspace and drag messages into them. This way your whole team can see how to prioritize their work and what’s on the docket for the day. 

classroom gif

Triage and route messages

No need to spend your time tagging messages, routing them to the right person, or flagging them as urgent to the team – set it up to happen automatically with rules and SLAs. 

Rules 

Rules are if-then automations that let you put certain actions on autopilot. Set up rules to automatically triage and route the messages for your team, so you can spend more time on your customer. There are a variety of ways that rules come in handy:

  • Route messages to tags based on the content in the email or the sender. 

  • Automatically assign messages by sender, subject, or keyword to a teammate with the expertise to respond.

  • Avoid overwhelm and get back to customers faster by setting conversation limits for each teammate and automatically assign new messages to the teammate with the fewest open messages.

SLAs

Service level agreements (SLAs) are agreed upon response times between you and a customer, because people want to trust that they’ll get taken care of. Front’s SLA rules help your team meet these goals and stay on track. Set up SLAs and tags like “SLA breach warning” to make sure you never let a customer message fall through the cracks.

Chapter 1 SLA guide warning gif

Audit and improve

So, you’ve set your team up for success, created rules to automate triaging, and your team is making customers happy left and right! It’s time to measure and showcase just how well your team is handling messages and find ways to improve. 

Analytics 

Analytics help you make informed decision and handle customer messages better. Track how quickly your messages are being resolved, how much each teammate is handling, or which customers write in the most, among other things. 

  • Get visibility into what kind of messages you’re handling: By tagging messages by product, feature, location, customer, or project, you can track the volume and frequency of customer messages around certain topics. View a report on any tag in Analytics to figure out what kind of work your team is up to the most. 

  • Track team performance: Track response time, handle time, resolution time, and more on a team and individual basis to see how your team is handling messages. This data helps you find ways to improve your customer communication, whether you’re deciding it’s time to hire more help, or finding a better way to distribute and escalate messages. 

Keep learning

One Pager - 2 Min ReadPin your favorite apps to your inbox with Front
Getting back to a customer often means digging through your CRM, meeting notes, and project management apps — not to mention your inbox — for the updates you need. You lose time searching for the latest information, and your customers are left waiting. That’s why Front integrations bring all the context you need to respond directly into your inbox. It’s quick and easy to access the tools you rely on and make real-time updates to keep your team in the loop. Front connects with dozens of tools to help you get more done, right from your inbox. Here are some of our customers’ favorites for a little inspiration! 📇  CRMs like Salesforce, Pipedrive, and HubSpot Log activities and update opportunities without switching between tools. Check deal status, account history, and more, directly in your inbox. Add tasks, notes, or edit account information directly from Front to keep your team — and your pipeline reports — 100% up to date. 💡 Available on Pro and Platform plans 🛠 Project management apps like JIRA, Asana, Trello and GitHub Easily share feedback, feature requests, and bug reports with your technical team without leaving your inbox. When you create or update tasks from any message, the task will be linked to the message like a tag for one-click access. When you close out that task in your tracking tool, any linked messages re-open automatically for follow up, so it’s easy to close the loop with customers. 💡 Available on Plus, Pro, and Platform plans ⚡️ Zapier to supercharge workflows across apps Connect Front to hundreds of other software tools with plug-and-play Zaps. They can help you save time on repetitive workflows or get data where you need it. You can save attachment files to Dropbox automatically, create new Google Spreadsheet rows from Front messages, automatically reply to Typeform survey responses, and more. 💡 Available on Pro and Platform plans ⚙️ Custom plugins for in-house tools Need access to data from custom backend systems, databases, or an in-house CRM? Front’s open API makes it easy to develop a custom integration to view customer purchase history, check account status in your backend, or make order changes in real time. We’ve got a few tips for building a Front plugin to help you get started! 💡 Available on Plus, Pro, and Platform plans Front integrations turn your inbox into your go-to platform for getting work done. And it's only just begun. There are several AI tools that you can implement on top of Front to analyze your email responses, build bots, automate tasks, and more. Business email is getting smarter — and we think that's a great thing.
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One Pager - 3 Min ReadDistracted by chat? Bring internal discussions into your inbox instead
You’ve been crafting a client proposal for the last hour. You’re almost done. Then — ping! “hey, what did we decide about next quarter’s budget? 5% increase, or 10%? i know we talked about it last week, but i can’t find the final numbers…” Before you know it, you’re searching through meeting notes, emails, and chat history to try to find the final projections. Now where did that conversation happen again? Situations like this feel inevitable when communication is scattered across email, internal chats, project tasks, shared docs, and more. We want to be nimble and collaborative, so we jump from app to app to keep up, sacrificing focus and critical information along the way. Front’s internal discussions give you a new way to chat, distraction-free — without leaving your inbox. Just comment and @mention your teammates to work together quickly, like chat. Each conversation is organized into separate threads, just like emails in your inbox, so information doesn’t get buried when you step away from your desk. With internal discussions, you can access all your work conversations in your inbox, instead of switching between tools. Calm the chaos with internal discussions Have a question about the latest launch timing, or want to update a few teammates on a closed deal? Just set a topic, invite your teammates, and start chatting. Internal discussions work just like sidebar conversations you have in Front with comments, minus the email to kick things off ✉️ Internal discussions are just like chat — without the inefficiencies: All your information in one place: No switching between tools to start or reference a conversation — it’s all in your inbox and searchable, just like email. Stay organized with discussion topics: Set topics for every discussion to easily reference discussions and stay on top of important conversations. No more scrolling through channels for context: Realize you need someone else to weigh in? Just add them directly to the discussion. There’s no need to start a separate thread or send them hunting through a channel to find your message. With internal discussions, it’s easy to stay in the loop on your terms. Use your private tags like 🗃️ Team updates, 🚀 Launch planning, or 💸 Approvals to group your discussions into the folders that make sense to you — right alongside your emails. You can tag and snooze them just like any other conversation in Front to stay on top of what matters most. Internal vs. External? You don’t have to choose Discussions are just one more way to collaborate with your team in Front. Whether you need to weigh in on a customer message or check in with your team, it’s all happening in your inbox: 🗣️ Get quick feedback: Ask for input on your customer onboarding deck, share the schedule for an upcoming conference, or update the team on a big win ☑️ Manage projects with ease: Get status updates on a feature release to make sure everyone’s on track, finalize the messaging for this week’s release, or coordinate the details for your next offsite 🤳 Keep your team looped in: Share learnings from your latest client call, update your team on progress, or spread great news about your latest press Ready to try it? When you write a new message in Front, just click the arrow on your composer pen to kick off a discussion instead of an email. Hello, efficiency!
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