More and more of us are using instant messaging to communicate in our personal lives. An incredible 7.7 billion are signed up for Facebook Messenger, Skype, or WhatsApp, to name just a few.
Not surprisingly, businesses also recognize the value of instant messaging – as it’s also known – in the workplace. It could be to facilitate an online team chat between remote workers or distributed teams. It might be as a platform for quickly resolving simple queries. Or it could be to open up two-way conversations with customers. Instant messaging and team chat can support communication and team collaboration – and reveals some surprising differences from the ole’ favorite email.
Team Chat For Business Use
Team chat is increasingly being used by businesses to support internal communications. Unlike email, it’s much faster and more responsive. Users instantly receive notifications when they are online. And the sender can see straight away when the recipient has read the message.Its immediate nature means staff can be kept-up-to-date more efficiently than before. Collaborative, meaningful on-line discussions resolve issues quickly, while important information gets shared equally and inclusively.
Instant messaging also tends to be more accessible. Messages are usually brief and are more like a casual chat. And perhaps because they are shorter and less formal, people typically reply immediately.
Team Chat: Practical Uses
So, how are businesses using instant messaging in the workplace? Well, here are some practical examples of how you can apply it to your organization.
Support Collaborative Working and Team Communication
The coronavirus pandemic has seen a worldwide explosion in the number of remote workers. With millions of people now in lockdown throughout the US and a growing number of other countries, telecommuting has become the new norm.
However, a desire for a better work-life balance has seen more and more of us embracing remote working. Since 2005, regular work-at-home has grown 173 percent in the US alone. This trend, therefore, is likely to continue long after the current pandemic.
Team chat provides a vehicle for these workers to connect, share, and discuss. For example, many companies have set up team chat to support those working from home in the Covid-19 pandemic. It provides an informal platform for workers to seek advice on hardware or software hiccups and glitches. And it’s a forum for telecommuters to share tips on successful home working.
Instant messaging also allows home-working employees to resolve an issue quickly: Let’s say that the finance manager has a query on a staff member’s expenses claim. Rather than a formal email which the employee may not open until the next day, an instant message easily resolves the issue. The finance manager can process the claim immediately, and the employee receives their expenses the same day.
Team chat can increase the speed with which the team shares information. Files and data are easily uploaded and shared instantly. Real-time communication means decisions are made quickly, resulting in more agile working.
According to one survey, 66 percent of respondents believed that team chat led to quick and easy resolution of simple questions. And when it comes to productivity benefits, decreased call and email volume (75 percent) came out on top.
IM Not The Distraction Once Thought
If you are concerned about the team chat tool becoming a distraction, then the survey suggests it doesn’t interrupt employee workflows. Fifty-one percent of survey respondents said its presence was only minimally distracting.
The bottom line is that team chat can have a positive impact on productivity. Say, for example, your HR manager wants to hold a team meeting to progress check on the new employee benefits package. Finding a time and a day is, however, a time-consuming challenge, especially as two team members work in different offices. So, instead of the bureaucracy involved in face-to-face meetings, video or conference calls, team members simply get together on the social intranet. An exchange of messages on a team chat group discussion, means all project members are simultaneously updated.
Get Important Messages Out Quickly
Team chat via the social intranet is a great way to get vital communications out there quickly.
Perhaps your staff member needs an urgent decision regarding a customer inquiry. The manager can give an instant response, possibly saving the deal.
Improve Customer Service
Furthermore, real-time team chat can support enhanced customer service. Bots are increasingly being used by businesses to provide more responsive and personalized customer experiences. And instant messaging can support your frontline staff to deliver better customer service.
For example, maybe you are on the phone talking to a potential customer who asks for some specific detail about a product they are interested in purchasing. You do not know the information off the top of your head. However, a quick instant message to a colleague means you can answer the query without the customer being any the wiser.
Put simply, instant messaging offers the potential for streamlined internal communications and speedier, more agile operations.
Introducing MyHub’s Team Chat
Here at MyHub, we have developed a team chat tool as an integral part of our social intranet platform. We have made it easier for businesses and their employees to create, share, and engage. Team chat can support decision-making, agile business practices, and inter-office communication. Among the great features on offer are the following:
Public or Private Chats
MyHub’s team chat means you can connect with individuals or groups as you please. You can set up a channel discussion for a team such as marketing and finance. Or you could start up a discussion chat that focuses on a topic. It could be contributions to the end of year financials, the review of the marketing plan, or an Excel user support group.
Online Status of Colleagues
The team chat allows you to see who is online and available to chat. To start a conversation, all you need to do is click on a name. You can also see if someone is away, busy, or is unavailable to chat.
Easy to Search
From time to time, you will need to go back to a conversation to check relevant information. Every chat is saved in team chat, which means you have a written record and can search your communications. The search function works for all team chats, including channels, discussions, and private messages. Locating that all-important message, therefore, is just a few clicks away.
Share that vital document, image, or video privately and in a group conversation. Team chat makes it easy to upload files for instant sharing. And the good news is you can also search team chat by file name.
Create Familiar #Channels
Most of us are familiar with the concept of #channels. We already follow them on our favorite social media platforms. Topical, team, or role-based, these are a fantastic way to alert staff to news and updates and keep them informed. What’s more, you can use the @mentions feature to notify team members immediately of any new posts in their channels.
Need to knuckle down on a critical report? No problem, you can easily turn your team chat on and off. Decide when and how often you want to receive notifications by changing your preferences as appropriate. You can even opt to receive an emailed summary at the end of the day.
Because the team chat is an integral part of the social intranet, only one sign-on is required. This means you won’t need to flip between multiple apps or screens. Not only will you be more organized, but you will be more productive too.
Simple to Set up
Using team chat is easy and intuitive. Check out the how-to video or follow the simple on-screen instructions and set up your personalized chat system within the social intranet.
Benefits Of Team Chat
So, when it comes to quick, easy, and responsive internal communications, instant messaging has much to offer. Fully integrated with your existing social intranet, team chat provides accessible real-time communications. And even better, customer service and overall productivity will receive a welcome boost as well.
Email vs. Instant Messaging
Businesses have been using email since the advent of the internet. Familiar, convenient, and easy to use, we all know and love email. And with 3.9 billion users worldwide, it’s still the number one communication channel for lots of businesses. From a business perspective, email is great for broadcasting group messages to large numbers of people. One email can literally reach thousands of staff. Furthermore, data and files can be attached and shared to all recipients.
Some argue that unlike instant messaging, email is a better platform for longer or more complicated communications. Team chat works well for brief messages. Anything longer or requiring more explanation is probably better suited to email. Email is generally perceived as a more formal communications channel. That means potentially sensitive messages are better communicated through email – or ideally face-to-face. Email is also easily accessible via a smartphone or device. Even non-desk staff or remote workers can pick up messages. However, it’s not possible to see if the recipient has opened, let alone read the message.
The Dreaded Long Threaded Email
Another disadvantage of the email compared to team chat is that it has limited value when it comes to group discussions. Forwarded emails with long and complicated threads can quickly become impossible to follow and overly cumbersome. By contrast, instant messaging is a more natural and easy-to-follow form of communication that is better suited to group discussions.
Most importantly, however, is the fact that emails are not real-time communication. There is always a time lag involved. If you need a decision quickly, then email may not be your first choice, even more so if the decision requires several people. But there is no doubt that email still has a place in the modern office: worldwide, we sent nearly 294 billion business emails last year alone!
In summary, there’s still a role for email, but lesser. If your organization is looking to complement email, and is interested in finding out how MyHub’s all-in-one integrated solution for instant messaging can help, book a short free demo. Or give it a try with a 14-day no-obligation trial.