However, while Google Gmail is an effective tool for many types of common email tasks, by itself it isn’t designed for many other business tasks. In particular, when it comes to certain types of functionality, such as help desk and service tickets and some forms of business collaboration, Gmail doesn’t tend to have the same level of offerings as popular enterprise systems such as Microsoft Exchange.
But that doesn’t mean that there aren’t plenty of developers rushing to fill this void through add-ons and modules for Google Apps. One tool that I recently tested, Shared Inbox for Gmail, is specifically designed to add improved help desk and customer support ticket features to Gmail.
In functionality, Shared Inbox for Gmail is pretty simple. It adds a graphic box to the bottom of user emails in Gmail that can be used to assign that email to another user of the Shared Inbox.
It is possible to create and maintain multiple shared inboxes, possibly for different types of functionality such as customer support, general questions, or help desk. The inbox is tied to a specific email (for example, firstname.lastname@example.org) and each user in the related department would have access to that shared Inbox.
So, for example, if I received a support request in email, I could assign that email to another support staff worker and include comments in the Shared Inbox. Basically, it works as a very simple support ticket system.
The full thread of the support email is shown within the Shared Inbox area. And in the lower-left bar of Gmail, a Shared Inbox task area is shown, which makes it possible to view all of the tasks and, potentially, multiple Shared Inboxes being used.
A very basic Web-based administration interface makes it possible to view and create users and shared inboxes. When compared to dedicated help desk and support ticket systems, Shared Inbox for Gmail is a pretty barebones offering. But for many small companies, this type of basic functionality can still fill a need and be a better fit than a full-fledged support system.
The standard plan of Shared Inbox for Gmail, priced at $10 per user per year, includes an unlimited number of Shared Inboxes. But email attachments, while available in the original emails, will not be accessible from the Shared Inbox history. The premium plan, priced at $15 per user per year, includes an unlimited number of Shared Inboxes and also includes the storing and transfer of file attachments, which will be accessible from Shared Inbox ticket history.
You can find more information on Shared Inbox for Gmail here.