The Slate Inbox feature allows your institution to directly manage multiple office email accounts hosted by email clients such as Gmail and Outlook and incoming text messages in Slate. For example, At Slate University, emails sent to "firstname.lastname@example.org" are set up to forward to the university's Inbox, where you can view messages, reply to, and manage them effectively.
This system offers several benefits that streamline and improve communication with prospective students.
- Efficient Management of Emails: The system automatically associates incoming messages with existing person records when matched to an email address or mobile number on record. This eliminates the need for manually matching emails and reduces the chances of errors. In addition, you can create inbox groups and roles to control which messages are displayed to specific groups of users. This ensures that only relevant messages are visible to the admissions staff members and reduces clutter. Communication history is visible on the interactions section of the person record.
- Automated Assignments: The system also allows for automation in assigning messages to staff members. Messages can be automatically assigned to an individual staff member or a group based on predefined criteria. This helps distribute the workload evenly and ensures no messages are left unanswered. Independent of any automation, a user can re-route a message to a specific destination or role and review messages exchanged with the recipient recently.
- Flexible Management Options: Messages can also be managed in batch, forwarded, starred, routed to SPAM/junk folders, and otherwise manipulated to handle and resolve incoming mail. This gives staff members a wide range of options to manage their inboxes effectively and efficiently. You can forward messages, and email attachments can be sent. You can also add snippets (predefined content blocks) with common responses, and the text of these snippets is searchable. Data points associated with Inbox messages can be queried on using the query builder or pulled into reports using the report builder. Messages can also be tracked more granularly using message-scoped fields to store message metadata. Message history is recorded in an audit log, and you can create custom dashboards to display person record data.
Inbox Message Life Cycle
When an email is sent to your existing email address that is configured to forward messages into Inbox, the email is queued in Slate for the following actions:
Automatic message assignment to a person record
When a message is received, Slate attempts to automatically assign it to a person record. The automatic assignment occurs if there is exactly one record with a matching email address that is not Inactive. If there are no records with this email address, or if there are multiple records with the same email address, the automatic assignment does not occur. The message can be manually assigned later.
Upon Message Receipt rules (Assignment and Resolve rules)
Refer to the articles covering Inbox Automations.
Default Role/Group assignment
The default role for the Inbox group is assigned only if a role was not assigned to the message using Upon Message Receipt rules.
Upon Message Receipt rules (Automatic Reply and Notification rules)
Refer to the articles covering Inbox Automations.
This process can take up to 15 minutes, but it typically completes sooner.
Once a message has a role, users assigned that role permission can view, reply to, reassign, and update the status of the message (see below).
If there are active nightly processing rules on the message Inbox population, every evening between the hours of 2 a.m. and 4 a.m. Eastern Time, all messages that are either open or resolved within the past 7 days enter a queue to have those rules processed.
When a message is marked as resolved, it can be viewed for 7 days within Inbox when viewing recently resolved messages. These messages continue to appear on the assigned person records. Messages should be marked as resolved when they no longer require staff attention.
When you navigate to the Inbox page, users can view messages that are assigned to their roles and that require a response. The messages can be filtered by role, assignment (such as unassigned or assigned to the user), status (such as open or recently resolved), and by using search terms that will search both the subject and content of the message.
Clicking a message will display a conversation history page, which contains the specific message along with the five most recent messages sent to or from the associated record in the past 60 days.
In this view, users can also draft and send a response, change the assigned person record, reassign the message to a different role or user, and change the status to resolved. For more details about each of these functions, refer to the Configure Inbox section of this article.
The link to the assigned record displays the preferred name if one exists. If one does not, the first name appears.
You can configure your existing email addresses to forward messages to Slate. The following sections describe how to configure permissions and a forwarding address for Inbox.
Begin migrating just one mailbox into Inbox. Once you have gone through all of the steps and tested one Inbox group, it will be much easier to replicate the steps for any additional email addresses.
Messages cannot be forwarded to your test environment. Each Inbox group should be configured in production.
Create an Inbox-Enabled Role
Each message in Inbox must be assigned to an Inbox-enabled role, which will have an associated Inbox group. This role and group combination determines the users who can view and respond to the message.
- Click Database on the Slate navigation bar and select Role Groups & Permissions in the Users & Access section.
- Click New Role.
- Enter the following role configurations:
- Name: Name the role (such as "Admissions Inbox").
- Permission: Grant this role the Inbox permission.
- Reply Email: Granting permission to Inbox enables the Reply Email field at the top of the popup. Provide a Reply Email address for the role. This email address will be the default email address for Inbox replies for messages assigned to this role and its associated group. It will also be used by automatic reply rules that are configured to use the role's email address.
Assign Role Users
- Click Database on the Slate navigation bar and select User Permissions in the Users & Access section.
- Select the appropriate user.
- Click Edit User.
- Click Role and grant the Inbox-enabled role to each user who should have access to view and respond to messages assigned to that role. These users will inherit the Inbox permission from this role. Users can only view messages associated with roles to which they have been assigned.
Be sure to grant yourself this role as well, even if it is only a temporary assignment. Inbox messages only appear for users who are in the message's assigned role and associated group.
Create an Inbox Group
Inbox groups are each assigned a unique email forwarding address. Any emails sent to that forwarding address are automatically associated with that Inbox group. You will make one Inbox group for each email account that you will be forwarding into Inbox. As stated before, it is a best practice to configure and perfect one Inbox account before configuring the rest.
- Click Database on the Slate navigation bar and select Inbox Groups in the Communications section.
- Click New Group.
- Enter the following group configurations:
- Name: Assign the Inbox group a distinctive name.
- Default Role: Select the Inbox-enabled role that you created in the previous step as the default role. Any emails sent to this Inbox group's email address will automatically be associated with the default role.
- Click the Inbox group that you just created to view the forwarding address that you will use in the next section. Copy the forwarding address, and send a test email to the forwarding address. The message will appear in Inbox within 15 minutes.
This Role assignment is not permanent - it can be changed manually or with the Rules editor.
Configure Email Forwarding
To allow people to continue sending emails to your existing, publicized email address, you must configure that email account to automatically forward the emails to Slate.
If you want to use rules to redirect messages to other groups or for auto-replies, it is recommended that you wait to turn on email forwarding until the rules are fully configured and tested. This will allow you to tweak and test the rules without affecting Inbox users or email senders. You will learn more about this in the Automations section. The Automations section also provides best-practice instructions for testing rule changes once you have begun forwarding messages into Slate.
- Configure a forwarding rule in your external email provider to forward all incoming messages to the forwarding address of the Inbox group created in the previous step. If an option is presented to choose between forwarding and redirecting the messages in an email client, choose to redirect the messages. This helps ensure that the "From" and "To" addresses remain intact when a message is pushed on to the next destination.
Note: This step may require you to consult with your IT department.
- Confirm that your forwarding rule is configured correctly by sending a test email to the existing, publicized email address (for example, email@example.com). The message should appear in Inbox within 15 minutes.
Note: An email message will only forward to Inbox if it has a message body.