Deliver Stellar Support With Just Gmail: Part Two

Written by on October 20, 2014

About a year back, we put together a list of some known Gmail features like labels and canned responses and some not-so-well known features like the undo-send button and hidden stars, in an effort to help people who use Gmail for customer support. Because hey, if you’re going to use Gmail to support your customers, you should at least do it right!

However, Gmail’s grown by leaps and bounds since then and we’re talking more than just surface-level changes. So, we took stock and went back to the drawing board to come up with a new list of features and tips and tricks to help you deliver even better support to your customers.

Organize screenshots and track logs and bug reports with Drive

If a picture is worth a thousand words, a screenshot is worth half a gazillion. When things go bump in the app, most support reps prefer it when customers send them a screenshot of the misbehaving feature than a detailed four-paragraph essay.

It works out great when you have to deal with only about ten tickets a day and making sense of the clutter that is your downloads folder is still humanly possible. But anything above ten and chaos reigns. And let’s not even talk about the chaos attached to sharing these screenshots with your developers when you’re using Gmail; that’s a whole new ball game by itself.

But now, thanks to Gmail’s tight integration with Google Drive, you can not only preview screenshots, but also send them over along with logs and bug reports to a dedicated shared folder on Drive. Your developers can then take a look at them to dig deeper into issues or add comments to track progress on the issues reported, all from inside Drive.

Dump screenshots, logs and bug reports to Drive

Your inbox becomes a little more streamlined and you can now get on top of newer questions easier.

Deliver faster support with Drive – even when you’re on the go

Bugs wait for no one.

Regardless of whether you’re commuting, showering or walking the dog, your customers are going to experience problems and your inbox is going to fill up with queries. And most of them don’t like waiting for a response. The quicker you get back to them, the happier they’ll turn out to be. But when you’re on the move, typing out long solutions is not only unpleasant but sometimes, impossible too (if you haven’t typed out an email on a tiny screen while trying to stay upright on a subway, you haven’t lived). And sometimes, you might want to use visual aids rather than words when explaining workarounds.

That’s when Drive comes handy. If you use an iPhone, you can quickly hit the attachments icon (a paper clip near the Subject field in the Gmail app), and hit the ‘Insert from Drive’ option to include a screenshot from your product walkthroughs or FAQs. We highly recommend you have your knowledge base and frequently used screenshots organized and stored in Drive so it makes supporting customers on the go a lot easier.


If you’re an Android user, the same option is available when you click on the menu icon from top right in the Compose screen. You can even add screenshots inline without having to attach them separately and leaving your users clueless all over again.

Here’s a bonus tip: even if you’ve consolidated a non-Gmail address with your Gmail account, you can sign up for a Google account with the same address and load your screenshots and help documents on Drive there so you can quickly access them when you need them for your customers.

Call them if that’s what it takes. For free, with Gmail.

Every seasoned support rep knows that the fastest, and best way to turn a frown into a smile is to get on the phone and talk to the frustrated customer. You could send them an email explaining how you’re going to make things better but that usually tends to just make a bad situation worse.

With Hangouts for Gmail, you can call any number in the US or Canada for free. The next time someone tells you they’re disappointed with your product or service, win them back with an apology or a promise over the phone – without actually spending a dime or leaving your desk.

Every support agent knows that the easiest way to turn a frown into a smile is to pick up the phone

You just need to type in their number in the Hangouts search box, and before you know it, they’re swiping their cards all over again.

Find the right conversation with a loaded combination of stars and dates

In our last post, we talked about how you can use Gmail’s spectrum of stars to mark customers’ emails based on priority, type (a bug report or an expert opinion) and status (waiting on customer or resolved). Couple that with Gmail’s recent Search By Date feature, and it’s like finding gold.

Using the after: and before: operator, you can restrict search results to display conversations that happened during that time period. Add the has:orange-guillemet operator and you get to see the emails that are waiting for customer’s responses in that period (assuming that’s the sign you used for marking email requests that were waiting for a customer response).

Search for specific queries with ease with Gmail's search operators

Curious about how you can organize your inbox just like a helpdesk would? Check out our earlier post to find out how we do it.

Provide priority Support with Gmail

All customers are equal. But some are more equal than others. They might be customers fetching you the highest revenue, or they may be your most vocal and biggest fans. It doesn’t matter what the reason is, these customers are the ones that you’d bend over backwards for, the ones you just don’t want to get upset or unhappy. Here’s how you can make sure that no matter how cluttered your inbox is, you’re always informed of a query or a reply from them: just add them to a Google+ circle.

Create a circle just for your high rollers and add them to your circle as the queries roll into your inbox. So, now all you have to do is just use the search operator has:circle:prioritypartners to view just important messages in a jiffy.

Priority Support with Gmail

Manage your emails with Tasks for Gmail  

You’d be surprised at how much the humble Gmail Tasks window can help you get done, especially when you’re inundated by emails. Go from chaos to control by converting your emails into tasks. The best part is you can also set a due date for your tasks, so you can make sure that your customer queries are never lost or forgotten in your task pile.

Roll along with tasks for Gmail

Bug fix waiting for developer intervention? Add the email to your tasks, set a due date and move it to a ‘waiting’ list. Too busy to shoot an email now? Add it to tasks again, and come back to it when your schedule frees up a bit. You can use the ‘More’ button when you’re in a conversation to add an email in your tasks list and set a due date.

Make replying a breeze

If you’re using Gmail for customer support, you’ll rarely find yourself composing a fresh new email to your customers. It’s always the same reply again and again and again, and you might find the interface a bit too constricted when you’re sending out detailed responses with step by step instructions. You might sometimes want to refer other threads, and that’s only possible if you go back and exit viewing the current one.

Gmail’s shortcuts come in handy though. These shortcuts could help make things a bit more comfortable:

Shift+click reply box to open the reply interface in a new pop-in window

Shift+r when you’re on a conversation to do the same thing

Hit ‘Pop out reply’ when you’ve already started typing and feel like you want to look at another thread in your inbox.

Shift+f opens a pop-in window from which you can quickly forward your messages and email

Make replying a breeze with handy keyboard shortcuts

Sure, you need to be investing in a dedicated help desk as you grow bigger, but as you’re starting out, if all you want is a simple and easy way to listen to your customers without breaking the piggy bank, Gmail does suffice as a great tool. You don’t even need additional workarounds – a little bit of creativity can go a long way in helping you manage your customer conversations right inside Gmail.

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