How to prevent team inbox clutter

Feb 1, 2023
min read
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If you’re like a typical office employee, 121 unread emails should be sitting pretty in your inbox right now.  

By the time you finish reading this post, that number should be up by a few (yes, check it!). And this is only for emails you’ve received today.

To make matters worse,  if your team uses a shared inbox, expect a higher number of emails.

Now to keep up with all these emails, you’re probably spending 2.5 hours daily constantly checking your inbox. Do the maths on a Friday night, and you’d have spent 13 work hours in an inbox.

In a world where 347 billion emails are sent per day, 241 million emails per minute, and 4.1 million emails per second — keeping up with all of your emails is almost impossible. Hence, your chances of getting “inbox zero” is literally —zero!

However, if these emails are unmanaged, they soon clutter your inbox. 

And like Peter Walsh said— 

“Clutter is not just the stuff on your floor – it’s anything that stands between you and the life you want to be living.”

A cluttered inbox stresses employees, increases customer churn, decreases team productivity, and impedes the company’s growth. 

How do you prevent this clutter? What are the causes? And what strategies do you put in place to ensure they never bother your team again—? All of these and more are what we’ll cover in this article. 

But first:

What is team inbox clutter?

Team inbox clutter is the overwhelming accumulation of emails in a shared inbox used by a team. 

Due to this clutter, team members often find it difficult and time-consuming to find relevant information to resolve internal and external issues. 

For example, a team inbox used by your customer support team receives hundreds of emails daily from customers. If the emails are not adequately organized and prioritized, your team inbox will soon become cluttered. In this case, your support team will have a mix of resolved and unresolved customer issues and duplicate emails. All of this can lead to constant disagreement among team members, making it difficult for them to perform effectively. 

📚 Related → How to manage a shared inbox like a pro.

What causes team inbox clutter?

When your team inbox is unorganized and filled with both relevant and irrelevant information, clutter becomes the other of the day. 

However, a cluttered team inbox is only part of a larger issue triggered by “email overload.” 

What is email overload?

Email overload is simply the overwhelming inability to manage your inbox. This happens when your inbox is “too full” with emails you can’t keep up with. 

Below are signs of email overload: 

  • You’re receiving excess follow-up emails
  • You constantly check your emails just to keep up
  • You have a large volume of unread emails
  • You have difficulty organizing and responding to emails on time 
  • You feel frustrated anytime you check your emails
  • You have difficulty finding relevant information in your inbox

When you notice one or more of these signs, your team inbox is cluttered. And some of the causes include: 

Too many emails from external sources (spam)

When your team inbox frequently receives spam emails, you compromise the integrity of that inbox — especially if they contain malicious content. This will give your team members a hard time finding important information, as they’d have to differentiate legitimate emails from spam. 

Here’s a quick example, let’s say your team uses a shared inbox to respond to customer inquiries. However, that same inbox also receives hundreds of spam emails daily containing several phishing attempts. If your team is not well equipped to manage their inbox, they could potentially give valuable customer information to a spammer.  

📚 Related → 27 foolproof customer service templates for email

💡Pro Tip → You can use Trengo’s conversation features to mark a conversation as spam.

Lack of clear communication and communication within the team

When team members don’t fully understand and communicate their roles and responsibilities within the team, the team inbox suffers. This leads to duplicated efforts, unanswered emails, and missed deadlines. 

If this goes on long enough, the team inbox becomes chaotic and overloaded with several emails. 

Here’s a scenario, suppose you lead a 100-person team, and a team member sends an email to the entire team inquiring about the status of a task. 

However, this team member failed to specify who the email was meant for. Other team members might feel obligated to respond to the email with their contribution to the task. 

Unfortunately, this can overload the inbox without any meaningful impact on the progress of the initial task. 

📚 Related → How to train team members on the effective use of team inbox

💡Pro Tip → When creating a team in Trengo, you can use the “staff permissions” feature to assign different roles (admin, supervisor, user, light users) to different team members.

Lack of a system for organizing and prioritizing emails

When you send and receive large volumes of emails daily, your inbox gets full quickly. Without a system in place for organizing and prioritizing all incoming and outgoing emails, this can become difficult to manage. 

And when this happens, your team might encounter problems such as: 

  • Late and/or duplicate responses to internal and external emails.
  • Decreased team efficiency due to time spent searching for relevant information in the team inbox.
  • Delayed responses to emails due to poor sorting process.
  • Increased chance of losing or missing important messages. 

📚 Related → How to use one email account with multiple users

💡Pro Tip → Trengo gives you all the missing features of email in a powerful shared inbox — all while keeping your inbox organized. Try it out now!

Lack of automation (rules, auto-replies, and quick replies)

Manually managing incoming and outgoing emails in a shared inbox is ineffective, time-consuming, and often prone to error. Doing this for the whole team can overwhelm your inbox, leading to unorganized or missed communication. 

Here’s an example; Let’s say your sales team manually processes leads. Without an automation system, leads may be mislabeled, left unassigned, or not properly followed up on. When this happens, your team inbox becomes filled with duplicate and incomplete leads that are difficult to manage. 

Strategies to prevent team inbox clutter

Set up clear guidelines for internal communication

Implementing clear guidelines and protocols for all internal communication helps you ensure all team members are fully aware of their roles and responsibilities when communicating. 

With this, team members know to avoid sending and receiving irrelevant and unnecessary emails. This helps you reduce clutter as everyone understands what type of information is allowed in the team inbox. Plus, it becomes easier to manage the flow of information and keep your inbox organized. 

Below are examples of clear guidelines you could implement: 

  • All emails should be brief and straight to the point. 
  • Face-to-face conversations should be handled through other channels of communication. 
  • Team members should only send messages that are relevant to the recipient. 
  • No CC’ing of messages is allowed — rather, tag (e.g., @teammember) the involved recipient in the emails. This enables them to fully grasp the context of said email.
Source: Trengo

💡Pro Tip → Trengo helps you integrate all conversations from channels like WhatsApp Business, SMS, Instagram DMs, Google Business Messages, Email, etc. — all into one smart inbox. Try Trengo today!

Establish a system for organizing emails using filters, folders, and labels

For all types of companies dealing with a large customer base; it’s normal to receive hundreds or even thousands of emails daily. 

In this case, using a system will automatically sort incoming emails into specific categories based on priority, relevance, and other internal criteria. 

For example, you can set up a system to filter emails based on ‘customer tag number,’ ‘customer name,’ and ‘subject line,’ then send to their respective folders and label them accordingly. 

👀 Note → Labels are essential, especially in categorizing your emails. For example, emails labeled “Action Required,” “Review,” “Important Notice,” or “Urgent Notice,” should likely be prioritized. 

Train team members on effective email management techniques

Most times, setting up a system is not enough. In some instances, your team members may either not follow the guidelines or don’t know how to use the system. 

Therefore, you’ll need to equip all team members with the skills and knowledge needed to manage the internal flow of communication effectively. 

Here are a few techniques to train your team members: 

  • Using email templates or canned responses on repetitive or similar incoming emails
  • Scheduling regular email check-in, clean-up, and organization. 
  • Avoiding lengthy conversations to reduce the number of redundant messages and unnecessary follow-ups. 

Related → Improve your customer service with top-notch email management 

Set up automation

Automating your team inbox helps you streamline the flow of information across the entire team. This way, team members don’t have to waste time on repetitive tasks. 

For example, with Trengo, you can automate many aspects of your customer service. This way, your support agents don’t have to manually copy and paste the same messages for customers with the same issue. 

Also, you can set up automation to help you route or ‘ping’ emails to appropriate team members based on the recipient’s attributes. This is to ensure no message is overlooked, mislabelled, or missed.

Clean inbox, clean mind — with Trengo

It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that a cluttered inbox disrupts team workflow, affects communication, and decreases productivity. Fortunately, all the strategies we discussed here would help you reduce your email volume and give you a better sense of managing your inbox. 

On the flip side, doing the heavy lifting of managing the team’s communication flow is a daunting task. This is why we recommend using a tool like Trengo to help you manage, maintain — and even organize your team inbox so you can spend more time on important tasks. 

For example, with Trengo, you can add customizable labels to conversations to keep your inbox clear and organized. You can also create folders to view conversations with specific labels quickly. 

With Trengo, no forwarding, CCs, BCC’s, endless threads, or internal emails ever again.

Want a clutter-free team inbox? → Start your 14-day free trial with Trengo

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