Despite the current endeavors to re-imagine email, I think that the problem is not email per se, but is instead the way we use email. Proof of this is the existence of software products such as Mailbox and Gmail which present us with new ways to handle our ever growing flood of emails.
It is therefore no wonder that the recent “Mailbox” launch has made such a big storm, so much so, that the company behind “Mailbox” was acquired even before launching its product out of beta (http://mailboxapp.com).
As further proof, we see that Google has innovated the way in which we should work with emails. Their “priority inbox” approach is second to none (if you haven’t tried it you should) and has made, in my experience, the management of emails easier and more efficient. Another way they tackle email management is with their “tabbed” system, where emails are sorted automatically into pre-set categories (not my preferred approach).
While the solutions above are perfectly valid approaches for taming the personal email flood, it is another challenge altogether to figure out how to manage emails for teams.
Requirements for Teams
Let’s face it, handling emails for teams can be quite cumbersome, as approaches often employ multiple applications. For example, you can either create a group (Google groups, etc.) or you can create a shared inbox (Exchange Server, etc.). Both solutions are really nothing other than creating a distributed mailing list. There is no reporting, no collaboration features and there are no personalization options.
Furthermore, emails are simply being forwarded to a user’s inbox and not kept for archiving. There is no way to assign a task to it, to set up a reminder to reply, or way to keep track of a customer’s history. There is also no way to set an assignee or state of that email so that other team members can see who is actively working on a reply.
While many users have undoubtedly taken to “HelpDesk” solutions to “fix” the above mentioned drawbacks, this might be an overburden for some companies. Not to mention, that these companies would now need to maintain two systems. Given the constant increase in usage of social media channels, these companies would additionally need to handle another incoming stream.
We believe that there is an easier and more natural approach to the handling of emails for teams.
Our Proposed Solution
The solution that we at HelpMonks are actively working on is one in which we “hook” into your existing email workflow and simply let you continue to work in your current email client (whichever one it may be). Essentially, our solution acts as a smart “repository” for all team emails.
There should be no need to change your existing email architecture, nor a system that your users need to learn.
Think of it as an advanced “shared inbox”, with the addition of having your emails available and manageable at a central location, where all communication with your customers are searchable, archivable and retrievable at all times. Sort of like a cockpit for all your communications.
From our own email requirements as well as speaking with people we know that you do not want to leave email behind. Even if your Organization would be willing to make the shift, it will take a big force to change habits. Therefore, we have gone out of our way to make HelpMonks “invisible” to you and your customers. It simply works in the background and when you need it, it is there.
We intentionally didn’t build a “HelpDesk” solution, but instead concentrated on the management of your emails. You can think of HelpMonks as a system that will allow you to create an advanced shared inbox. Furthermore, our plan is to add “normal” mailing list options as well. You will be able to use HelpMonks for your internal teams, as well as for creating mailing lists, something that requires two or three different systems today.
How to Deploy
Since HelpMonks is geared towards small and large teams and organizations alike we have been thinking hard about how to satisfy the requirement for a secure deployment. While a small team might be alright with HelpMonks in the cloud, for a larger organization the “cloud” option might be out of the question due to their security guidelines.
We have therefore come up with a three way deployment model:
- HelpMonks Cloud
Just as a hosted service your data will be hosted with us on our server farm. This will be a cost-effective way for teams of any size to quickly setup a team based email solution.
- HelpMonks Cloud Server
Deploy HelpMonks on your own server, but it is managed and deployed by us. Just like HelpMonks in the cloud, but all within your own network infrastructure.
- HelpMonks On-premise
Buy and deploy HelpMonks on your own server. This will be a perpetual license that will include the full source code for HelpMonks.
Keeping Communication Streamlined
Our promise with HelpMonks is to keep your communication streamlined. HelpMonks will be invisible to your employees, boost team productivity and feel personal to your customers.
We are currently hard at work developing HelpMonks. Sign up today at http://helpmonks.com to be notified when we start the beta phase. Be the first to take part in this innovative new way to interact with your customers.