0

So this one is a serious head-scratcher that is proving much more difficult to resolve than at first glance.

I have a Client that runs a small business. They are a husband and wife team and use Gmail with the Gmelius add-on to run their business. Both the husband and wife use the same e-mail account via Gmail. The husband takes care of sales and the wife organizes the service for the Customer once a sale has been made. They use the same e-mail address for all of this and they answer all e-mails as the wife (even the sales ones written by the husband) in order to keep everything simple.

The husband wants to be able to search Gmail for all e-mails only he needs to reply to (pre-sales) so he can tackle just those without seeing any of the e-mails the wife has to reply to (post-sales). The wife would like to be able to do the same with the e-mails only she has to attend.

Here is the problem I am having attempting to resolve this for them. Because they use Gmelius which is based on conversations, the conversation in Gmail must remain the same when the husband passes it on to the wife (e.g. after a Customer is closed). So this is an important constraint. The first, most obvious, and "intuitive" solution I attempted for them was to simply use Labels whereby when a new inquiry comes in from their website server, a Gmail filter adds the "Husband" Label which the Husband does not remove from the conversation until the Customer is closed, with the idea being that the Husband can tackle all his e-mails by simply searching for in:inbox label:Husband and the wife can tackle all her e-mails by simply searching for in:inbox -label:Husband.

Simple enough, right? Wrong! That does NOT work because Gmail assigns Labels per message, not per conversation. So when the first inquiry comes in from the server which gets filtered with the "Husband" label automatically added to it, it's only that first message that actually gets the "Husband" label. Every subsequent message between the Husband and the Customer in that same conversation does not actually have the "Husband" label (even though the conversation still misleadingly shows the "Husband label at the top), and therefore when the Husband searches for "in:inbox label:Husband", new e-mail replies from Customers whose original inquiry had the "Husband" label do NOT show up under his search. It took me ages and a lot of pulled hairs for me to figure this out!

I then thought about changing the subject whereby the Husband's e-mails have "[Inquiry]" at the end and when he passes it on to the wife he simply changes that part of the subject to "[Booked]" and they each search for subjects with either "inquiry" (husband) or "booked" (wife), but that doesn't solve their problem because changing the subject creates a new conversation, so the wife loses all the Gmelius Notes the husband had created in the original pre-sales conversation. So changing the subject seems to be out.

Next, I tried using Stars instead of Labels (yellow-starred e-mails for the husband, unstarred e-mails for the wife), hoping that Stars are applied per conversation (unlike Labels). However, trial and error proved that Stars are also added per message, unfortunately. So stars also seem to be out.

Lastly, this workaround to the per-message Label issue is not feasible because it would have to be done constantly every single time a pre-sales Customer replies.

Thus, I am stuck and cannot for the life of me figure out how to set up their Gmail in a way that they can each do a (bookmarked) search for all the e-mails each of them is responsible for (pre-sales for the husband, post-sales for the wife, no mixing or intersecting) considering:

  1. they both use the same e-mail address,
  2. both pre-sales and post-sales e-mails must be part of the same conversation so that the wife has all the Gmelius notes and e-mail history of the Customers, and
  3. Labels are applied per message and not per conversation.

Surely there has to be a way to resolve this within the constraints above, but I'm running out of hair!

How can I solve this?

...

UPDATE TO CLARIFY

If a new email inquiry from the server gets assigned a "Husband" label by a Gmail filter (filter: if new email from server, assign "Husband" label), but subsequent replies from the husband and from Customers in that same conversation started by the server do not get assigned any label because there is no filter for their email address and filters can't be created based on labels, then new replies in that conversation will NOT show up when searching for in:inbox label:Husband because the new replies from the Customers do not have the "Husband" label assigned despite the conversation they're in showing the "Husband" label due to the first message (email inquiry from server) having the "Husband" label. So, considering all of that, how can this problem be resolved automatically so that the husband (and wife) can see all his new emails and only his new emails with one simple search considering labels are applied per message (not per conversation) and there doesn't seem to be a way to differentiate/filter between replies to the husband and replies to the wife since they are using the same e-mail address?

0

Instead of just removing the husband label, and then having the wife search for items in the inbox without the husband label; they should have multiple labels attached to these conversations.

When the husband completes his part of the process then he should remove the husband label, and attach either a neutral label (completed) or wife's label. I don't know enough about the business process to know which makes more sense. Since each message/conversation can have multiple labels the presence of the husband or wife label can be in addition to any labels related the project, product or customer.

let me run through a scenario for a conversation that goes from pre-sales to post-sales and then back to pre-sales.

  • A message from a new potential customer for productx. Whoever sees the email attaches the presales label and the productx label and a response_required label.
  • husband answers the email and removes response_required label. He may add a waiting_response label or some other label to remind them to follow up if there is no response.
  • when the customer buys the product there can be a process to add a label for the customerID, or completed sales or whatever.
  • the next week the customer sends a new message with the same title so it is in the same conversation. They ask a question about installing the product whoever sees the new message in the conversation removes the presales label if it is still there then they add the postsales label and the response_required.
  • a few messages later the presales label can be added if they are starting to ask about more copies of the product or some other add-on feature.

The users can use the multiple inboxes feature a Gmail to see messages based on key filters. They can also keep the inbox clean by archiving conversations once the response has been sent.

When multiple people try to use the same email address it gets complex quickly, it also becomes complex when user keep an email string alive for what should be multiple conversations. Sometimes what works best is when the conversation makes a hard left turn, force a new conversation by changing the subject.

  • But how would this work considering the new replies the husband receives do not get the "Husband" label assigned and therefore do not show up when searching for his label inside the inbox using in:inbox label:Husband? In other words, how would I add a "Husband" label to each reply the husband receives (so we can search for just his replies) such that once the sale is made and the wife needs to take over, her replies do not get the "Husband" label assigned, and considering they are using the same e-mail address? – ProgrammerGirl Aug 28 '18 at 13:53
  • Your edit still does not solve the problem at hand. It fails on the 4th bullet point "the next week the customer sends a new message with the same title so it is in the same conversation." When that happens, that new message will not have the Presales/Husband Label despite being in the same conversation, and therefore won't show up when the Husband wakes up in the morning and searches for in:inbox label:Husband to view only e-mails he's responsible for and will therefore miss it. How can this problem be resolved as per my OP? – ProgrammerGirl Aug 28 '18 at 15:29
  • Somebody has to process by hand every new email and attach the appropriate label. Unless a filer can process the new mail and add a label. Wait -are you trying to do this without using conversations? – mhoran_psprep Aug 28 '18 at 17:29
  • No, this has to be done using conversations (conversation view on) and without manually processing every new email by hand (must be done automatically except for when a sale is closed and the husband does whatever he has to in order to assign the conversation to the wife from that point forward). How can this be done? – ProgrammerGirl Aug 28 '18 at 21:33
  • I am confused by what you describe. I always use conversations and labels. When I add a label to a message, it behaves exactly as I expect. if I search for label:x ln:inbox I get exactly the subset of conversations with one or more messages that have label x and are in the inbox. I never see those conversations with label x that aren't in the inbox. – mhoran_psprep Aug 28 '18 at 23:29
0

I do not think there is a straight solution to your issue.

There is a simple workaround though, since:

Both the husband and wife use the same e-mail account via Gmail.

You also mention that:

The husband wants to be able to search Gmail for all e-mails only he needs to reply to (pre-sales) so he can tackle just those without seeing any of the e-mails the wife has to reply to (post-sales). The wife would like to be able to do the same with the e-mails only she has to attend.

Further down:

Because they use Gmelius which is based on conversations, the conversation in Gmail must remain the same when the husband passes it on to the wife.


Workaround

We use different addresses (users) for the same account.

To do that we take advantage of the fact that Gmail ignores any character (letters and/or numbers) you add after a + sign (and before the @ sign) and sends all e-mails to the same e-mail account.

Example:

User 1 (wife): myshop+inquiry@gmail.com

User 2 (husband): myshop+booked@gmail.com

Or maybe:

User 1 (wife): myshop+Pre@gmail.com

User 2 (husband): myshop+Post@gmail.com

So, any email sent to any address following the form of myshop+something@gmail.com will end up in the account myshop@gmail.com.

A step further with aliases

Following our example, go to Settings and under Accounts and Import in the Send mail as section, click Add another email address and create the 2 new addresses keeping Treat as an alias checked.

They can now not only receive -which they can by default- but also send e-mails from their new addresses that will even appear in the From drop down list when they compose a new e-mail. You can find more information about aliases here.


Using the above method, you gain an extra, higher (than the ones used by labels, stars or conversation) level, a "user level" for your filters. You can then set up easily filters to automatically star, archive or label e-mails addressed to each one of them.

This way they have their e-mails separated and know right from the start who the e-mail is for. It is like having two distinct departments for their business.

Extra Bonus: They can even e-mail each other or send reminders to themselves.

All of your above mentioned issues are resolved because although they both actually use the same e-mail account, each one has their own personalized e-mail address.

I do understand there will be a small curve there until their old customers send e-mails to their "new" addresses but it is totally worth it. After all it doesn't make much difference since even e-mails sent to myshop@gmail.com will end up in the same account.


EDIT

Following the clarification in the comments:
"They use the same non-gmail email address that they access through the same Gmail address. They always answer their customer emails using their non-gmail email via Gmail".

This makes things easier because there will not even be a "small curve there until their old customers send e-mails to their "new addresses". Also, since they "always answer their customer emails using their non-gmail email via Gmail", they are comfortable using aliases.

If you haven't already, you should mark as Default their non-Gmail e-mail by going to Settings and under Accounts and Import in the Send mail as section, keeping Treat as an alias UN-checked. Following that, you create their two new aliases as explained above.

As soon as a customer e-mail arrives, who ever sees it first, forwards it to the related "user/department" (husband to himself or the wife, or vice-versa). That's all.
They just continue using their new inner-communication system.

  • Thank you for your thorough answer. . When I wrote the husband and wife team use the same e-mail account, I should have clarified to say they use the same non-gmail email address that they access through the same Gmail address. They always answer their customer emails using their non-gmail email via Gmail. How does that affect your answer? – ProgrammerGirl Sep 4 '18 at 10:34
  • "As soon as a customer e-mail arrives, who ever sees it first, forwards it to the related "user/department" (husband to himself or the wife, or vice-versa)." Unfortunately, it needs to be an automated solution as per my OP: "how can this problem be resolved automatically". How can your solution be made to fit that criteria? – ProgrammerGirl Sep 4 '18 at 19:10
  • @ProgrammerGirl Sorry. Nothing comes to mind. – marikamitsos Sep 5 '18 at 0:23
  • @ProgrammerGirl It is funny you do not accept an answer for a bounty ! After all even for the most automated systems you still have to push the big red button that says LAUNCH – marikamitsos Sep 6 '18 at 11:08

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.