I recently came across this blog by Alex Maccaw on Stripe’s culture, and one of the things that immediately stuck out was their practice of using email for a lot of their internal and external communication. And not just that, at Stripe, most email is CCed to lists that go to a lot of people or the entire company.
With everyone so worried about email clutter and overload, that sounds almost counter-intuitive. Are we not looking at some really bad ideas being put into practice here, like:
- Using Email for Customer Support and internal functions: Really, aren’t there tools for almost all of that that give you a wall to write on, a central place to exchange messages, and a nice looking UI?
- Keeping a lot of people in CC: Aren’t we getting zillions of emails already, that we have no time to go through? Why add to it?
Email clutter/overload and information getting scattered across inboxes with no centralization are the most important arguments in favor of dedicated tools that help you do project management, customer support, sales conversations etc. But looking at how Stripe is most likely using Email, does the case for Email as a tool that can be used to do a lot of internal and outward facing functions not look very strong.
Lets look at some of Email’s greatest strengths:
1. Email is simple, ubiquitous – If you have internet, you have email. No matter what the device is, a fairly consistent experience is guaranteed. The key actions of reading your emails, writing a new one, and searching through your inbox are available everywhere.
2. Filters/Rules can work with Labels/Folders to automate inbox organization – You can create Filters or Rules in your Email to send emails directly to be filed under a label or in a folder. So, it is very easy to file a label under the label “Support” it came through a list called email@example.com, or file a label as a “Task for me” if it contained “Task: Niraj” in the subject. For more on these, read our 5 simple tips to turn your email into a powerful collaboration tool.
3. Gmail’s firstname.lastname@example.org is an awesome feature – If you are on Gmail or Google Apps email and your email id is email@example.com, then emails sent to firstname.lastname@example.org would also reach your inbox (any_text is just that – any text with no spaces in between). Now you can easily filter emails based on any_text in your inbox and take different actions on them. So an email sent to email@example.com can automatically be labeled as a “New Task” in my inbox.
4. Very useful extensions available for Gmail and Outlook – There are some really useful extensions available for Gmail and Outlook that drastically increase email’s utility. Tools like Boomerang, Rapportive, Awayfind and our very own GrexIt that helps you share Gmail Labels and create a shared, centralized repository from emails make working and collaborating from email a very rich experience.
We’d love to know the experiences of people and companies who love using Email for a lot of their functions. We really feel that with the right set of add-ons, Email can really go a long long way.