Using Google Groups as a collaborative inbox

You can use a Google Group as a collaborative inbox to distribute and track responsibility for topics among the group's members. These features are especially useful for technical support or customer service teams. For example, you can create a group with the address support@[your domain].com, add your support staff as members, and allow people outside your organization to send messages to the group. Your support staff will receive your customers' messages, and they can do any of the following from the group's Topics view:

  • Assign responsibility for a topic to a member of the group
  • Mark a topic as resolved
  • Edit the tags associated with a topic
  • Filter topics according to tag, resolution status, or assignee

Setup

To set up a new group as a collaborative inbox:
  1. From the Groups welcome page, click New Group.
  2. Fill in your group's name, description, and email address in the appropriate fields.
  3. Under Collaborative inbox, click Enable collaborative inbox features.
  4. Under Who can participate in the collaborative inbox, click the dropdown menu and select which types of group members (owners, managers, and/or standard members) receive access to collaborative inbox features.
  5. Specify any additional settings you want under Basic access and Advanced settings.
  6. Click Create group.
To add collaborative inbox features to an existing group:
  1. From your group's Topics view, click Manage.
  2. Expand the Roles section in the left column and click Roles.
  3. Click the role you want to set access for. The Member group includes all group members.
  4. Under Permissions, click Edit.
  5. Ensure that the following permissions are enabled (along with any additional permissions at your discretion):
    • Filter Topics
    • Assign Topic
    • Enter Free Form Tags
    • Change Any Tag Or Category
    • Mark Duplicate
    • Mark Favorite Reply On Any Topic
    • Mark No Response Needed
    • Take Topic
    • Unassign Topic
    • Unmark Favorite Reply On Any Topic

Assigning a topic

To assign responsibility for a topic to yourself or another group member, open the topic from the Topics view and do one of the following:

  • Click Take to assign the topic to yourself.
  • Click Assign to assign the topic to another group member. Search for the member's email address in the dialog that appears, then click Assign next to the appropriate search result.

If a topic is assigned to you and you want to remove the assignment, open the topic and click Drop. You can then assign the topic to another group member.

To view topics that have recently been assigned to you, click New assigned in the Topics view.

Resolving a topic

Resolving a topic indicates that the topic requires no further action. There are multiple ways to resolve a topic, depending on the way it's resolved:

  • If a new topic requires no action, select the topic and choose Actions > Mark no action needed.
  • If a topic is resolved by a followup message, open the topic and click Mark as complete or Mark as best answer on the followup message.
  • If a topic is a duplicate of a previous topic, select it and choose Actions > Set Duplicate. In the dialog that appears, specify the URL of the original topic.

The Topics view indicates which topics have been resolved, and how. Note that these resolution settings are not mutually exclusive; you can apply more than one to a single topic.

Managing tags

A group can organize its topics with tags. Tag settings for a group are controlled from the group's Manage group page.

To add tags to a topic:

  1. Open the topic from the Topics view.
  2. Click add tags.
  3. Specify one or more additional tags and click Save changes. Note that the maximum number of tags a topic can have is controlled by the group owner in the group's administration settings.

To remove tags from a topic:

  1. Open the topic from the Topics view. The topic's tags are displayed next to the subject of the topic.
  2. Click the X next to a tag to remove it from the topic.

Filtering Topics

To filter the topics currently displayed in the Topics view, click Filters. You can filter topics by any combination of the following:

  • Topics you've contributed to
  • Topics without replies
  • Topics you've read or haven't read
  • Resolution status
  • Assignment status
  • Date last modified

When you've selected the filters you want, click Apply selected filters at the bottom of the menu. To remove the filters you've applied, choose Filters > Clear all filters (display all topics).

You can also filter topics by tag. To do so, switch to your group's Tags view and select the tag you want to view.