Alternative to accessing a Single mailbox by multiple users

Many Email solutions like MS Exchange, Lotus Notes, etc provide a feature where multiple users can access the same mailbox. Each of these users can login with their own credentials, see a common mailbox, and can read/ reply to any of the mail. Any replies to their mail by the external world, will also fall into the same mailbox. This feature essentially allows a group of users to work on the same mailbox.

Typically this is used in a support/helpdesk environment, where any of the support staff can attend to the incoming mail (requests for help). Additionally it provides complete visibility on all requests to all the team members.

When customers approach us for migrating from such proprietary environments to Connect Xf Email Server or setting up a Hybrid Email solution between Connect Xf and MS Exchange or Lotus Notes, typically this is one of the requirements. This feature is like a workaround/substitute to a full fledged helpdesk software and is a poor substitute at that. Just like you cant really do ERP over Email or do chat over Email :-) (although technically you would be able to)

We felt that this is not what an email system was meant to be and instead we should encourage customers to use a proper ticketing system which is connected to email as a carrier.

Mithi uses the popular open source OTRS tool (Open Ticket Request System) which is connected to Mithi’s email backbone on Connect Xf. OTRS works on the concept of queues, each being mapped to an email id e.g. support@acmecorp.com. Here’s a brief explanation of its working:

  1. When a customer sends a mail to support@acmecorp.com, OTRS picks up this mail and converts it into a NEW ticket in the system with a unique ticket number.
  2. This is now visible in the dashboard of the support staff manning that queue.
  3. Once any of them replies to that, they automatically become the owner and the reply goes as an email to the customer with the ticket number in the subject.
  4. The ticket is put on ‘ONHOLD’, and a response is awaited from customer.
  5. When the customer replies to the email (keeping the ticket number in the subject intact), OTRS merges customer’s reply in the same ticket trail and shows the ticket as OPEN in the dashboard to all the support staff.

This is a simple explanation of the basic working of OTRS. There is lots more you can explore as you go.

This system is simple, provides visibility of all tickets to all the support staff members, allows internal notes, provides the complete conversation thread in a single view, reports, etc.

We recommend using specialized open software components and tools for the specialized/focused functions like this and simply ensure that it integrates with your email system (Connect Xf is an open system which connects over open standards and protocols comfortably)