Scaling support emails
When Lexoo was just starting out, support was simple. We didn't have many customers so could look after all the support problems ourselves. As we got more customers we decided the best way of making sure no support ticket was missed was by CCing every inbound/outbound email to the whole team.
And then we started hiring more people, and getting more customers - and the number of emails started growing at a terrifying rate. BUT we wanted to make sure we were providing great customer service, and we also wanted to make sure that no customers were missed when one of the support team was on holiday. So...we coped. We created gmail filters. We tried to ignore the problem - until finally we realised that when a new person started at Lexoo we would have to spend the first hour with them creating gmail filters with them to make sure they maintained their sanity...
.. and that's where Front came in.
Front is a shared inbox - so members of the team all share the same email address (in our case firstname.lastname@example.org). When a new email comes to email@example.com everyone can see it, until it's allocated to one of the team. From then on, any interactions in that email chain would be filtered to that team member within Front.
When someone sends an email from Front, it automatically puts the right email signature and name against the email as well (even though the from address was still firstname.lastname@example.org).
Almost instantly our lives became better. Our individual email boxes were free to cope with issues that were specific to us individually, while support calls were handled beautifully by the whole team within Front. Whenever someone went away on holiday we could mark that person as 'away' - and Front would know who would pick up their emails.
However, there was one problem with moving to Front....
There's a great plugin for gmail called Rapportive that looks up the email address of the person who sent you the email and provides their LinkedIn profile details. You see their face, job title, even their twitter and Facebook page. This wasn't crucial for us, but it really helped when dealing with support requests to see who it was we were talking to (and what job they had). By moving to Front we were going to give that up...
One of the great things about Front is that it has a pretty sweet facility for adding plugins to the inbox. Basically they have an api, so that you can do things like put your CRM into Front, or link up emails to whatever support system you might have in your own back end. I don't think anyone had previously made a Rapportive-like thing for Front, but I thought to myself "I wonder how hard it would be to make this?”
Turns out to be pretty simple indeed thanks to the power of the Full Contact api. Full Contact provides a really easy api to allow for looking up an email address and returning any public information about that email address including LinkedIn, twitter, Facebook...pretty much everything that Rapportive provides!
After creating a simple proof-of-concept for us to use internally at Lexoo, I realised that other Front users would probably want this functionality..
Introducing 'Who dat?!?'
Who dat?!? is the plugin that I created for us to use at Lexoo within Front - so if you use Front, you can now try it out yourself. The only snag with using Who dat?!? is that you have to sign up for a Full Contact API key (it's free for 500 email addresses a month. If you view more than 500 emails a month you might want to sign up a larger Full Contact program).
I've currently got Who Dat to show the following information about someone (if it can find the details in Full Contact that is):
- Google plus
Full Contact can't find all the email addresses in the system, so if it can't it just provides a very basic box - so no dramas! (Also, if it can't find the contact in Full Contact, it defaults to any contacts you have setup in Front.)
Try it out at whodat.io
Also - I've launched Who dat?!? on Product Hunt! Check it out here.