How to Setup a Team Inbox (Shared Inbox)


A Team Inbox lets you consolidate customer SMS, MMS, and WhatsApp messages into a single place, so internal teams to collaborate and respond seamlessly to customer messages while remaining compliant.

In this article:

Before you begin

Most customers use the main company number for voice calls, SMS and WhatsApp messages, so their customers only have to remember one number. Whereas other customers setup multiple numbers so each Team or business units, has their own number. You can also have different numbers for voice, SMS, and WhatsApp.

  1. Decide which phone number/s customers will use to send messages to the company
  2. Decide which Team or Teams in Spoke will be responsible for customer messages

Understanding the Team Inbox settings

Turn on Shared Inbox for this team Enables the Team Inbox for the Users in this Team
Claim rule Sets the behavior of how conversations are managed
When users create a new message using this Team's number/s, copy in everyone on this Team With this setting turned on, any message sent using this Team Inbox phone numbers will automatically include all team members as recipients.
Numbers What phone numbers route messages to this Team
Bot name What name shows when auto-responder replies are sent to the customer e.g. My Bot
Auto-responder text What text is sent to a customer when they first send in a message to this Team

Turning on an Inbox for a Team

  1. Contact your Spoke Phone Account Manager or Spoke Phone Partner to have Team Inbox Enabled on your Account
  2. In the Spoke Phone Account Portal, to to Manage Teams
  3. Edit an existing Team you want to add a Team Inbox too, or create a new Team specifically for replying to customer messages
  4. Go the section Team Inbox 
  5. Complete the settings below, then as a final step when ready, select Turn on Shared Inbox for this Team

Setting the Claim Rules

The Claim Rule defines how your team collaborates on messages with customers. When a new customer message comes into a Team Inbox it is seen by all members of the team who can all respond, collaborate and interact with the customer. Some customers however want all the team to see new conversations as they arrive, but for productivity reasons, want only one team member to work the conversation. By using these Claim settings, you can set the default behavior of how teammates work and collaborate on new customer conversations.

Can be claimed Anyone in this Team can claim this conversation. When claimed, all other Team members are removed and the claimer is individually responsible for dealing with the customer.
Cannot be claimed No one can claim this conversation - it will always remain a conversation all team members can see and collaborate on.
Must be claimed before a reply can be sent to the customer

One of the Team must claim this conversation, and work it be themselves. When claimed, all other Team members are removed and the claimer is individually responsible for dealing with the customer.




Enabling SMS on your Team Inbox

To add SMS to a Team Inbox, you need an SMS capable phone number that you can assign to the Team Inbox. 
  1. If you want to enable SMS messages to the Team Inbox, click +Add a number.
    1. The number picker will show available SMS enabled numbers that you can assign
    2. If you don't see any numbers, it's because you have no SMS enabled numbers available to be assigned, and you will need to buy a new number, or release an SMS enabled number from a User or Team.
    3. If you are not planning on adding SMS to the Team Inbox (perhaps you only want WhatsApp on the Team Inbox), then you do not need to assign a number.

Enabling WhatsApp on your Team Inbox

If you want to route WhatsApp messages to one or more Team Inboxes, contact your Spoke Phone Account Manager or Spoke Phone Implementation Partner to setup. Spoke Phone offer a complete managed WhatsApp setup package.

Read more about setting up and using WhatsApp on Spoke Phone.

Setting the Autoresponder Message and Bot Name

If you want to automatically send a reply when a customer starts a new conversation, you can create an Autoresponder to automatically reply to the customer when they first start a new conversation.

  1. [Coming soon] Bot Name: Give your Bot a name so the customer sees that it is a bot messaging them and not a real human.
  2. Autoresponder Text: Enter in the message you want to automatically send to a customer when they start a new conversation. 
    Autoresponder messages are only sent to customers on SMS. WhatsApp has its own protocols and methods for responding to customers (see customized message routing below).

When you are ready, turn on the Team Inbox!

You can set up a Team Inbox for as many Teams as you like. 

Hint: You can hide Teams from the Directory which is useful if you create Teams just for messaging. 

Customizing the Team Inbox

Setting dynamic Claim rules by conversation subject or message content

Using the Spoke Phone Conversations API and Data Actions you can set the Claim rules (Can be claimed, Cannot be Claimed, Must be Claimed) differently for each new conversation.

To make these decisions you can interrogate the conversation payload and message content to lookup customers and if they are a priority customer, set the Claim state to Must be claimed. Or perhaps based on the content in the message use AI to classify the conversation intent and set the claimable state based on the customer's sentiment. 

Creating customized message routing for advanced use-cases

You can implement advanced custom message routing logic to fit your specific use-case or business needs. For instance you can:

  • Assign new messages to a specific user or custom group of users

  • Randomize which user in a Team gets assigned each new message

  • Assign a new message to a single user and it they do not respond within X minutes, add another user or reassign it

  • Assign a message to one or more users or groups based on the message content (what the customer said), the channel or number the message was sent to, the customer, and/or other rules.

  • Look up CRM data to determine who the customer is and what user or group of users should respond. E.g. This is a premium customer, send it to the Premium Care Team.

To create advanced message routing you use Spoke's Inbound Conversations Data Action which allows you to interrogate each inbound message and decide what to do with it.

For more information, see How to set up Inbound Conversations Data Actions

Creating a customized autoresponder for advanced use-cases

Each Team Inbox supports a simple automated response sent back when a customer first sends in a message. E.g. “Thanks for contacting Customer Support, one of our Agents will be with you soon.” You can set these up simply by typing in a message (see above).

Fully customizable auto-responders are supported too. For instance:

  • Respond with different messages based on the content of the message sent by the customer
  • Different responses based on time of day or region
  • Responses in different languages
  • Lookup CRM data to determine who this customer is and personalize the auto-response using their CRM profile
  • Respond to customers on WhatsApp with a WhatsApp template that can included custom messages, images, video, button options, etc.

To create advanced autoresponders you use Spoke's Inbound Conversations Data Action which allows you to interrogate each inbound message and decide what message to respond with.

For more information, see How to set up Inbound Conversations Data Actions

Activating and configuring Opt-In/Out Message Compliance

Spoke supports the varying global regulatory rules around SMS and WhatsApp message compliance, ensuring your business stays compliant with anti-spam laws. E.g. allowing customers to opt in and opt out of beng sent messages by your company.

To set up message compliance you need to engage Spoke Phone or your Spoke Phone Partner who will help gather the business needs and implement the required regulations, keywords, and messages for each country you operate in.

For more information, see Overview: Opt-Out Message Compliance







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