Using a regular personal account on Gmail for business is an intuitive solution that works well for some small businesses. But many businesses that opt to keep a generic Gmail account eventually run into challenges as they start to grow.

Although Google has created many intuitive apps for business, there’s one thing this web-based app is not built to provide: customer service. A personal Gmail account is designed for one person, and your workflow can become increasingly inefficient if your business is using a generic personal Gmail account and multiple people are using that same account. Some of the most customer-centric companies have experienced similar problems when they had more than one person on their support team. From using the colored-star system to printing out emails, Gmail has no scalable way to prioritize emails.

Sound familiar? Here are three issues that may alert your small business that it's time to make a switch to an alternative Gmail app:

When an email arrives, who responds to it? If there’s more than one person with access to the customer service Gmail alias, you have no way of knowing in real time who is working on what. Without a system that assigns an owner, priority and status to an email, you can run into the risk of overlapping emails using Gmail, or even worse, losing track of customers entirely.
Gmail’s priority inbox keeps your emails organized by identifying the most important emails. But when you share the job of replying to customers, your system will at some point reach its limits. There is no efficient way to track the priority of some emails over others or to know when a support issue is updated, pending, or resolved.
No customers like to explain themselves twice and no company likes to be in the dark about a customer’s history. Having a record of the customer and that person’s history of interactions with you is critical for providing great customer service. Although Gmail enables third-party apps like Rapportive to access contact information right inside your inbox, the information is completely divorced from the customer’s issue. Your business needs a 360-degree view of the customer, otherwise you’ll be spending more time relearning customer issues than actually solving problems.

A personal Gmail address or account simply looks unprofessional if you are using it for your business. If any of the following statements is true about your business, it may be time to switch from Gmail to Google’s G Suite (also known as Gmail for business) or another app that allows you to better scale — an email app that’s designed for businesses:

  • You have more than one person responding to customer inquiries

  • Your support team is continually growing

  • Tracking and managing email volume is difficult

  • You refer your customers to multiple departments to get the right response

  • You don’t have an efficient process for tracking customer information and prior customer conversations

  • You worked on the same customer issue, unaware that another person is already handling the problem

  • Customer emails regularly exceed 24 hours before they are resolved

  • Customers have no method to solve their own problems outside of contacting your support team

  • Customers are increasingly expressing frustration when contacting your business

Using a dedicated email app (like Gmail for business) for customer service can help you create smart workflows to track and manage your emails, so everyone in your company can play a role in supporting the customer and know:

  • What issues customers care about the most

  • The priority of some emails over others

  • When an email was created, updated, and resolved

  • Gmail for business is intuitive and easy to use

  • Creating a Gmail account for your employees with a custom domain is a snap

  • Setting up email aliases is simple with some Gmail for business plans

With Gmail for business, instead of a gmail address ending in “@gmail.com,” each employee will get an email address with your company’s custom domain included on the end (Example: jsmith@yourcompany.com). In addition, some Gmail for business plans enable users to set up several different email aliases so they can have multiple email addresses that all lead to the same inbox.

To create a Gmail account for business, visit the G Suite website. You’ll be able to get a free trial and get up and running by simply providing your first and last name and your current email address. If you wish to get advanced functionality, including multiple aliases, you can always upgrade to a paid plan.

Gmail for business is one simple solution built to enable employees to better connect with each other and with their clients and customers. You may also find there are other apps you can pair with Gmail to take your business communications to the next level.
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