Microsoft is a content client. This is a sponsored post, but all thoughts and opinions are my own.
Chat-based tools are not new. We’ve all been using text messaging, messenger apps on social media platforms and even good, old-fashioned chat apps for years. How many of you remember the old AOL Chat sessions? If you know what IRC means, I feel ya!
My friends at Microsoft have made it easier for your business to decide which chat-based application is right for you with a handy Ultimate Guide to Chat-Based Tools. The resource takes you through several consideration points for which type of chat-based tool fits your organization’s needs.
Why chat-based tools in the workplace? Chat-based applications like Microsoft Teams, Slack, Flock, Skype (also a Microsoft product), HipChat, Twist, Discord or even lightweight chat-based apps like Facebook Messenger or Google Hangouts, your team can be vastly more efficient, saving you time and money.
Plus, if you do have younger staff members, this is one communications preference they bring to the table you should account for. Millennials are more than one-third of the U.S. workforce.
I’ve had the opportunity to use a number of these tools both at companies I’ve worked for and with clients I’ve worked with. They range from the secure and integrated (one benefit of Microsoft Teams) to the informal and seemingly rogue (Facebook Messenger or Google Hangouts) and everything in-between.
Slack has gotten a lot of play of late. I, frankly, am not a fan. Slack is the app version of eavesdropping on a high school lunch table. There are 40 conversations going on, few of actual substance but all just loud enough to confuse and distract you from the one you’re trying to focus on.
My Gen-X brain just can’t handle unthreaded conversations.
But Slack is just one option. There are dozens more and some are even pretty darn good.
What to Look For in a Chat-Based Tool
Know that we’re not talking about chat-based tools in the context of letting your employees just go back and forth about Game of Thrones. Your team needs to use them to get the minute-to-minute messages out of the inbox, be more nimble and efficient as a team, route documents and assignments faster and the like.
And if it’s about your business, you can’t just have them using any old chat app. Fortunately you can discover what to look for in a chat-based tool.
First, find an app that can be customized to your business and team structure. Are their hierarchies so that managers have control over features or users have to have permissions to communicate with certain people in other departments?
Does the chat-based tool in question integrate with your other systems like document management, sales CRM or even project management software? The more closely tied it can be with existing systems, the more efficient your organization’s use of it will be.
Can your chat-based tool be programmed with automated functions like chatbots to help answer employee FAQs or integrate meeting notices to their calendars? If you type “Add a meeting with Jim for Friday at 10 a.m. to my calendar,” shouldn’t the app do just that? Some can!
And is your chat-based app protecting your company’s data, your team and your customers? End-to-end security for chat-based tools is critically important, especially when your team may be discussing client accounts, customer information or even competitive information you can’t afford to have out in the world.
These are all things – among several others – you need to consider when selecting a chat-based tool for your organization. To review more and get started to find the app for your team, check out the Office 365 Ultimate Guide to Chat-Based Tools. It’ll surely help point you in the right direction.