It's probably not a surprise to you, but you or our employees are probably already using instant messaging for business. Formally or informally their likely having conversations with each other or even with customers. Convenient but probably makes it difficult for you to have a 360 view on communications without settings up a corporate instant messaging strategy.
In this article we're going to review the best instant messengers, we'll be covering:
Before getting down to it, you might want to know what an IM is exactly.
What Exactly is an IM?
Usually, instant messaging is more commonly known as the buzzword IM. Put simply, it is a text-message exchange process through software application in real-time. Enterprises mainly use these apps to share information between employees; which, in another sense, also forges a faster decision-making process within your team.
Why Should I Use It?
IM didn't just pop up out of nowhere. The reason for the massive adoption of IMs like Facebook or WhatsApp among employees is the ease of use and rapid responses they provide. Other methods of workplace communication are less efficient: emails require formatting & carefully written dialog. This causes stress among employees. Whereas IMs have fewer expectations attached and so travel back and forth much faster.
Let's start by breaking down the top 7 external instant messengers for business.
Top 7 Instant Messengers For Business – External
The top 3 reasons for using enterprise instant messaging externally are lead generation, customer engagement & customer support. We'll be discussing the best external instant messengers for business briefly using these criteria. If you'd like an in-depth look on the reasons and practical steps to use instant messaging for business externally check out our Ultimate Guide to Instant Messaging for Business.
1. Facebook Messenger
Facebook Messenger is one of the most popular instant messengers in the world. With users available in almost any country except China. Using Facebook Messenger for external communication with clients is practically a no brainer because your company already has a Facebook page and users are probably already messaging you there.
Facebook has given Facebook Messenger some of the best lead generation tools of any IM, including Send to Messenger Ads & Messenger Codes. With Facebook Inbox and the Customer Chat Plugin, Facebook has also made it very easy to include Facebook Messenger in your Customer Support system.
Although WhatsApp is without a doubt a newcomer to instant messaging for business, it's the one your employees are most likely secretly already using. WhatsApp is trying to formalize this by releasing the WhatsApp Business App for small business and the WhatsApp Business API for enterprise instant messaging. If you're in Europe or Latin America, this is the IM for you.
Since Facebook also owns WhatsApp some tools are slowly migrating to work for WhatsApp as well. Click to WhatsApp Ads on Facebook is one of the most potent IM lead generation tools available today. And enabling small scale customer support is possible using the WhatsApp Business App.
Deciding if you should use WeChat as your provider or instant messaging app for business is rather simple. If you're users or customers are Chinese they'll be most accessible over WeChat. WeChat also has the unique distinction of having an external facing app & WeChat work, which is dedicated to internal communication.
Since WeChat derives most of its revenue from payments and other services, WeChat lead generation tools are not well developed. Especially when it comes to lead generation using ads. For customer support, WeChat provides the WeChat Official Accounts platform. Since it is not well optimized for this purpose, we recommend using connecting Rocketbots or a similar service via API.
With only 200 million monthly active users it's hard to choose Telegram over the contenders we've mentioned above. However, Telegram does have a very prolific following in countries where messaging restrictions are tightly enforced. It's also very popular in the cryptocurrency community.
Telegram has several unique lead generation tools which other instant messaging apps don't offer such as public channels & groups. These are significant because Telegram allows over 100,000 users per group, which drawfs any other contender. Using Telegram for customer service is more difficult than our top 3 because you'll only be able to connect to Telegram as a business using an API.
Line also has about 200 million monthly active users. Although that may seem small globally in Japan, Taiwan, Indonesia, and Thailand Line is huge. If you're looking to tackle any of these markets you should give Line some though. Interestingly the company offers two types of business accounts [email protected] and Line Official Accounts, for small business & enterprise instant messaging respectively.
Like WeChat, Line does have some basic lead generation tools, but nothing like Facebook offers. Unlike WeChat, [email protected] has a reasonably well developed back end for customer service that helps to keep users and customers engaged and happy.
Viber is another niche messaging app that is very popular in Eastern Europe, but like Telegram it has very few businesses facing features in its own right. Currently, the easiest way to a company to make an account is to set up a Viber Bot. Luckily, the Viber Bot API can be used to connect a platform like Rocketbots to provide a full-service experience.
Kik is a particular case because it has a hard to reach audience in the United States, teens. About 40% of American teens are using Kik. You're not going to see any quick lead generation results by adopting Kik, but if you're a large brand looking to secure your place among the next generation of consumers, you should give Kik a try.
That's it for our external instant messaging for business apps. Time for our top 10 internal instant messaging apps for business.
Top 10 Instant Messengers For Business – Internal
Once you've powered up your external messaging efforts, it's time to look inwards and find efficiencies inside the company. Here are our Top 10 internal instant messengers for business.
1. Google + Hangouts
Google+Hangouts is probably gone without saying the biggest and most used one in the instant messaging market. It first started out as a consumer-friendly chat service, and it was until recently till it transformed into deep integration with its G Suite apps that can fully support your business corporation as smooth as baby’s bottom. All you need for your team is a Google account, and you’re all set.
Another good thing about it is that you don’t have to worry a thing about its compatibility. It works the same with all devices – Androids, Apple devices, and computers, so it can save you lots of time from all those IT messes. It also provides one-on-one chats, threaded messages, even create bots within the Hangout itself.
Things You Should Look Out For
Just when you thought it is good as it gets, there’s still something that you should look out for: you have to organize your contacts from all different channels, which could be a real issue to deal with. Also, there’s no prior notification before you receive a voice call or video call, so it could be a rather subtle surprise when there’s an unplanned incoming call for you.
If your company is an SME, then Slack might be the good fit for you. Similar to Google Hangouts, Slack offers one-on-one and group chat functions for your business. You can archive up to 10,000 messages. The best thing is, the interface gives the best user experience to your staff, especially those that use Mac.
There’s also a lot you can do on Slack. All files and chats are synced, archived and searchable, so you don’t ever have to worry you and your staff aren’t on the same page again. Besides, Slack also got the built-in Slack-bot tool that reminds you of messages on basically all devices – Android, iOS, Windows, and others.
Recently Slack partnered with Atlassian to bring seamless communication to collaborative workspaces with likely deeper integrations coming soon.
Spice It Up For Your Millennial Workers
If you think texts are too boring for your Gen Z workers, then Slack might just have the right thing for you. Beside from texts, you can also send GIFs and videos on the platform, making the messages way more fun.
3. WeChat Work
If you’re doing business in China, then you probably already heard so many great things about WeChat Work. Being the most popular instant messenger tool in China, WeChat Work supports a ton of functions – OA application, third-party applications for selection and API access to its own application, making it works so well with other software.
Tap It and Get It
If you hate managing all of the messy business contacts, then WeChat might just be able to help you out with that. The Address Book Management function allows you to find the contacts you need all in the homescreen; you can also get the colleague information just in a touch of a button, making it all the easier.
Wrike is a collaboration and project management solution for businesses of all sizes. It offers cloud-based work management tool. So no matter you are grabbing a coffee on the go, burying yourself in the office or chilling by your couch, you can still use the tool to manage any requests with their built-in forms.
Manage Your Team Anywhere
With Wrike, you can assign any jobs to specific teams according to their schedules and availability. Your staff can edit documents online together simultaneously. All of the creative assets, including images and videos, can be easily reviewed and approved online. It becomes incredibly easy if you want to view the schedules or track the work progress of your employees on the Gantt chart. With Workload View, you can evaluate team performance with Custom Reports in real-time.
The best thing about Wrike is that you and your team can keep track of real-time progress and generate custom reports. The solution offers project and team level reporting feature basically allows you to check your team’s efforts anywhere and anytime you want.
Intuitive User Interface
Wrike has a customizable dashboard that has your tasks and projects all laid out in one clean flow and you can check all your upcoming tasks easily. You can use your messaging interface to add people to your projects or folders in one tab, making it all the easier.
Different from other IM out there, Rocketbots isn’t an Instant Messenger; instead, it is a conversational management tool that utilizes the channels of your users and combines them into one CRM. Simply put, with only one platform, they can connect user’s profiles from all different channels, including Wechat, Wechat Work, Facebook Workplace, Facebook Messenger and Slack.
Say Goodbye To Angry Customers
You also don’t have to worry about getting angry customers for keeping them for a 10-hour wait of reply, because the bot will be the instant responder to all your clients. The human agent will cut in automatically whenever you need, which can save you time and money while keeping up your service quality up to standard.
And, that’s not it. The robust analytics provides insights for your bot engagement, keeping performance in check by constant monitoring, and the ability to adapt to user behavior. Other exciting features include broadcasting announcements, tagging users, segmenting audiences, and an instant file delivery system – which enables you to send files to users from a database.
Save the Headache Of Clogged Emails
With the built-in bot, you can now officially break up with all the frustrating paperwork. The bots will answer all the questions that can be easily dealt with, saving you all the repetitive back-and-forth email process. All the files and forms now have the bot to take care of, so you don’t have to. Now you can concentrate your time on developing your business and move on to the other more important business on your work agenda.
Similar to Slack, Spark is also a rather popular instant messenger for all the SMEs out there. If you are also a company with lots of different chat groups, then we both might’ve been through the same place where you can easily mix up the users. But their random color feature might just be able to help you resolve this misery – the different colors can help you distinguish different users, which makes you smarter at work.
Give Your Employees A Bit More Privacy
After the Cambridge Analytics accident, it is only natural for your employees to be a bit concerned with their privacy issue. Here you can give your employees just the right reassurance they needed – now your employees can create team chats with security password so only the approved personnel can gain access to the group chat you wanted, as they would their emails.
The only annoying thing that can set you off is their buzz feature – the tool makes everyone have access to it, so it would send you high-pitched noises all the time, which could quite distracting. Another thing about this is their slow transferring time – the image/file sharing feature can take up to 20 minutes to transfer. While waiting on that, you might as well get yourself a cup of tea while you’re at that.
7. Troop Messenger
Troop Messenger is a newcomer to the business messaging world that seeks to take on Slack with a more affordable pricing package. Troop Messenger’s features stand toe-to-toe with Slack with some wanton app integrations still waiting in line to be updated on the platform. Chat, Voice, and Video all packaged into one will create a nice little trifecta for companies who wish to tackle any medium of communication in the workplace.
The Pricing Plan, Bust or Must?
Troop Messenger sports one of the most outstanding pricing models that heavily fortunes the smaller teams out there. Starting free, with premium and pro enterprise plans being as low as $1 and $5 respectively, Toop Messenger very clearly is looking out for the little guy.
With an offer of 50GB free storage in an industry that offers storage as a premium addon, it’s hard to say whether or not the packages are going to be high in volume but low in conversion. The product has more maturity in its future where integrations are in a headlong race to see who has the most before they need to get Zapier involved.
The features of Flock are more or less the same with Slack: one-on-one and in-group conversation, integrated to-dos and able to add reminders for any messages. But here’s the best part: the price is cheaper than Slack, which is all the better for the Flock users.
More reads on why leveraging workplace conversation is important for your business in here.
Polls are another included feature of Flock, where it allows you to do an opinion poll on it, which is better than Slack where you must establish and connect another app account beforehand. Also, the wide integration with a list of other apps like Zapier, IFTTT made the support even better.
The Unending Suffer
The trouble that Flock bugs users the most is this– it was made necessary to enable email access if you want to get into the system. Once you enter the email address, you will have to wait for the verification code to send to your phone. If you think this is only a one-time suffer for the first sign-in, then you’re wrong – they literally made it a login routine, so you have to bear with it every time thereafter. Bummer.
Although many people would mistake Brosix as a team chat app, it is in fact an instant messenger at its core (well, at least in terms of its functionality). Video–calls, screen-sharing, and whiteboarding are also few of the collaboration support that it provides. The easy-to-use sidebar-style interface also made the user experience all the better.
Being one of the best secure communication channels, users can share their work or tasks through private network. Whether you want to import or export files, it can be done in a safer way where only the specifically selected few can view the files, giving your staff the much-needed privacy.
The list doesn’t just end in here. The easy-to-use interface is also one of the things that users love about that. You don’t have to worry about any additional clusters, the 3 main tabs allow you to easily navigate the platform easily, making one of the best user experience for you at work.
10. Skype For Business
Essentially, Skype for Business is a consumer video conferencing app that featured enterprise voice-over-IP (VoIP) service. Not only is the user interface (UI) familiar for your staff to use, but the dial-in audio conferencing also makes your meeting so much easier. With the robust desktop sharing function, people can now broadcast any visuals, web pages, documents, applications, and software on it, making the operation even more user-friendly.
Skype does more than just instant messaging. If you have staff in remote countries, you can use the remote meeting function to train your employees in other countries. You can even take over the computer to perform certain tasks if you want. (of course, only under permission)
Bad Call Quality
Although Skype for Business is best known for its conferencing video calls, sometimes the quality of calls could be bad as few glitches appear. Besides that, status updates are quite slow in the windows, so there could at times showing you’re offline when you’re signing on the page.
Picking Out The Right Instant Messenger For Your Company
To wrap this up, the 10 selected tools are mostly economical solutions suitable for companies of all sizes. But do keep this in mind, when considering which instant messaging tool best fits your company, you might want to take your company culture into consideration. In this way, you can make messaging more fun than ever in the workplace.