Keep actions separate between shared inboxes

Overview

When you have team inboxes added to Front within the same Team, the default behavior is that emails addressed to multiple team inbox addresses will be automatically merged into one master copy to reduce the amount of work your team has to do. Any replies, comments, and actions done in one inbox will be reflected in the other inbox so that all context stays in one place, and the whole team has transparency on who has already handled the email. This is the recommended setup and also how most companies use Front.

However, you’re able to change this default behavior and instead keep actions separate between shared inboxes, using a setting in the inbox. The setting will:

  • No longer create shared copies of emails between shared inboxes. 
  • Create separate copies of emails that are addressed to multiple team inbox addresses.
  • Will not smart merge your emails. 
  • Actions in one inbox’s copy will not affect other copies; such as comment, archive, tag, and more.
  • Still keep visible any replies sent on all other copies, if the other shared inboxes remain recipients.
  • Still allow you to manually merge conversations.

Use cases

Though most companies prefer to keep the default shared inbox behavior to reduce duplicate work, there may be cases where you need separate copies for certain shared inboxes. The two main use cases are below.

Certain groups need their own copies for separate processes

There may be certain teams who need their own copy of a conversation as they want to handle the conversation separately without affecting other teams' copies. For instance, a customer may send an email to the Sales inbox (sales@company.com) and Billing inbox (billing@frontapp.com). Each team may have their own process for handling the email, and they want it to be opaque to the other team. Sales may need to assign to a specific sales representative who needs to comment, reply and log in Salesforce, while Billing may need need to assign to a finance manager to comment, tag, and log in an internal billing system. In this case, if Sales and Billing choose to turn on the inbox setting to keep actions separate, then each team will receive its own standalone copy of the email and their copy will not be impacted by actions on any other copies in Front.

Don’t merge individual inbox copies

Front’s smart merge feature will, by default, automatically merge duplicate copies of emails that are sent to both your private inbox and a team inbox or that your teammates mention you on, so that you have fewer copies to keep track of. The smart merge would only occur if there is no conflicting information on the two copies so that they are safe to merge. However, if you do not ever want to merge the duplicates automatically, then you can set the shared inbox to keep the actions separate. This means that the shared inbox will always have its own copy and you will only be able to manually merge copies.

For example: 

  • Your support@company.com inbox has the setting to keep separate turned on.
  • The customer sends an email to support@company.com and alice@company.com.
  • Each inbox will get its own separate copy. 
  • When Bob goes to the support@company.com copy and mentions, invites, or assigns it to Alice, these actions do not trigger a merge between the 2 copies as they would have before. In her own Inbox, Alice will see 2 copies: her own copy via alice@company.com and the team copy via support@company.com where Bob mentioned her.
  • If the customer later replies just to Alice, this reply will thread only in Alice’s copy; it will not appear in the Support copy. 

Features impacted

Impact on actions

The actions below will no longer sync across inboxes after you keep actions separate in inboxes. Typically, this would result in potentially duplicate work or siloed context; which are problems Front tries to solve. However, there may be use cases where you might need separate copies, in which case the actions below will be impacted:

  • Conversation status: Separate copies will not sync their open, archived, snoozed, or trashed status.
  • Comments: Each copy will only show the comments made on that specific copy.
  • Assignee: Each copy will need to be assigned individually. One assignee would not automatically know the activities on the other copy.
  • Mentions and participants: If a teammate is invited to or mentioned on one copy, they will not be shared on other copies of the conversation.
  • Shared drafts: Shared drafts will not be visible on other copies of the conversation.
  • Tags: Each copy will need to be tagged individually.
  • Move conversations: Each copy will need to be moved individually.
  • Rules: Your rules will action on each specific inbox’s copy of the conversation only, if your rule filters for that inbox.
  • SLA rules: Similar to regular rules, SLA rules will only action on the specific inboxes that the rule defines.
  • Analytics: Each copy will count as a unique conversation in analytics, instead of being de-duplicated automatically as one copy your team is handling, so you may see an increase in your analytics conversation metrics.

Impact on threading

Threading is how messages group together within a conversation or email chain. Learn more about it here.

Impact on threading if you toggle the setting on

If an existing team inbox already has conversations in it and you later change the setting to keep copies separate, it will only change threading going forward. Any historical messages that were shared between multiple team inboxes will remain merged; they will not separate into individual copies when you switch the setting. 

However, after you turn the separate copies setting on and receive a new message in a historical conversation thread that was shared between multiple inboxes, this new message will start a brand new conversation thread. Front will create a new thread in each team inbox that the new message is addressed to and also has the setting to keep separate turned on.

Before turning the setting on:

  • Support and Sales inboxes: shared thread A with historical messages 1, 2, 3

After turning the setting on:

  • Support and Sales inboxes: shared thread A with historical messages 1, 2, 3 (doesn't change history)
  • Support inbox: thread B created from new messages 4 and 5 
  • Sales inbox: thread C created from new message 4 and 5 

Impact on threading if you toggle the setting off

If you had the setting turned on and later decide to turn it off, it will only change threading for messages going forward. Any historical messages that had separate copies between multiple team inboxes will remain separate. 

Before turning the setting off:

  • Support inbox: thread A with historical messages 1, 2, 3
  • Sales inbox: thread B with historical messages 1, 2, 3

After turning the setting off:

  • Support: thread A with historical messages 1, 2, 3 (doesn't change history)
  • Sales: thread B with historical messages 1, 2, 3 (doesn't change history)
  • Support and Sales: shared thread C created from new message 4 and 5 

Instructions

This feature is turned Off by default, but Team Admins can follow the steps below to set this up for a given team inbox. 

For new team inboxes

Step 1

Go to your Company Settings, click Inboxes, and Add a team inbox.

Step 2

Set up your team inbox by following the steps listed here

Step 3

On the Settings tab, before clicking Finish, toggle on Keep actions in this inbox separate from other inboxes.

Step 4

Click Finish.

For existing team inboxes

Step 1

Go to your Company Settings, click Inboxes, and select the team inbox.

Step 2

Go to the Settings tab.

Step 3

Toggle on Keep actions in this inbox separate from other inboxes.

Step 4

Click Save changes.


FAQ

Does this work for private inboxes?

This setting is available for team inboxes only.

Can I still manually merge?

Yes. Keeping actions in shared inboxes separate does not impact your ability to manually merge conversations, or change the functionality of manually merged conversations.

Can the setting be reversed?

Yes, you can turn back the setting. However, the change will only apply to messages and conversations going forward. Please see above section Impact on threading for how threading will behave. 

Is this feature the same as a “split inbox”?

Yes, if you’ve contacted support in the past for us to perform a “split inbox” on any of your inboxes, the feature described in this article is the same, except now available to you directly in the app! You no longer have to contact support to run this for your shared inboxes.

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