Effective communication is the lifeblood of any successful company, whether it’s chatting between team members, discussions in departments or supporting customers around the world.
Chat apps reduce the need for separate emails, meetings, and calls for simple updates so employees can focus on their work with fewer distractions.
Being able to quickly and easily communicate ideas, updates, and feedback rather than waiting on emails and meetings can keep your head in the work and your focus sharp.
When information is shared in a team chat app, it can be accessed by everyone who needs it without searching through complex file systems.
Especially among remote employees, being able to chat with colleagues, rather than only having the stifling formalities of email, offers a way to improve interpersonal relationships and well-being.
However, with the rise in popularity has come a proliferation of available apps, making choosing the right one for your team much more challenging. To help cut through the chaos, we’ve identified three key factors that can help when selecting a team chat app:
First, you must consider each app’s functionalities and features and, more importantly, whether they fit with your team’s workflow. If you find your chat app adding one more useless tool to your communication rundown, something has gone very wrong.
Second, you need to look at usability. Even if you run the most tech-savvy team in the world, new tools take time to learn, and the sooner your team can get to grips with a chat app, the sooner they can leverage it for greater productivity.
Finally, you’ve got to ensure that you aren’t locked in. This means looking at whether you can communicate with external operators without having to buy yet another subscription and export data options in case you ever want to migrate your team chats.
We will deep-dive into these key factors in choosing a team chat app so you can find the right tool for your team today.
Factor 1: Functionality and Features
When it comes to choosing a team communication app, you’ll find that each one will offer a range of unique features and functions that can benefit work and productivity. However, not all of those features will necessarily be right for you and your team.
To find what works, weigh up whether each feature can help your team’s collaboration or if it could, in fact, hinder it. Many chat apps offer integrations, for example, but if you aren’t using the programs they connect with, it offers little extra benefit and a lot of extra confusion.
To simplify the process, take each feature and ask yourself: will this streamline collaboration for my team?
Additionally, consider how the features and functions of a potential team chat app fit within your existing tool line-up. More often than not, an organization will rely on a stack of different channels and products to communicate, collaborate and get work done. Unfortunately, this can lead to context-switching rather than streamlined collaboration.
Therefore, when comparing the features offered by chat apps, think about how they compare to what you already have and, more importantly, if they can offer a replacement. Consider whether a unified platform with built-in chat could offer all the features you need without any tool sprawl.
The exact features and functions your team needs will depend on your workflows, but some of the most popular features or functions that can streamline any team’s collaboration are:
These have become especially popular with remote teams but are great for in-person and hybrid workflows as well. They offer collaborative documents where team members can add notes, images, videos, code, and more while working together in the chat.
Video and voice calls
They are an almost daily tool for many companies, and if you can get them bundled into your team chat app, it can really simplify your communications.
Having a way to segment chats is vital for focused projects and multiple teams. It allows members to focus on what’s important and have all the necessary information.
Factor 2: Is It User-Friendly?
Having all those fancy features and functions is all well and good, but you have to ask yourself: can anybody actually use them?
Sometimes, tools can become so complex that it’s almost impossible to get to grips with them, and even if your team figures out one part, the rest of those snazzy features can fall to the wayside. That’s why it’s so important to look at usability when choosing a team chat app.
Most tools require some level of training to use really well. This could be in the form of webinars, workshops, or, more often, online tutorials and articles. These add a lot of value for people aiming for “superuser” status, but a tool should be intuitive for those that only need everyday use.
It shouldn’t take days on end for your team to figure out how to use your chat app. They should be able to pick it up and run, focussing their time and energy on the “what” of their conversations rather than the “how.”
The very best group chat apps out there will break the mold and make even the most advanced features usable by everyone. This is primarily done through excellent user interface design and building on the tools and methods users are already familiar with.
Spike, for example, takes the familiarity of business email and crafts a chat feed that’s simple enough for anyone to use, allowing for fast and clutter-free communication. “Spike’s interface is quick. The layout is clean so you can see the whole flow of the conversation. Other email apps repeat content in reply threads, making the thread long and unwieldy. But in Spike’s format, I see just what I need to see,” says Yan Sim, who manages supply chain operations for Warby Parker.
Factor 3: Is It Built on Open Standards?
When choosing a team chat app, the final factor is who can access those conversations. This breaks down into three important parts:
Security is a serious concern for any company, and a permeable chat app could spell disaster if data fell into the wrong hands. Research how each chat app protects your conversations and keeps your data secure. Message data on Spike, for example, is encrypted using AES-256 encryption, and Spike only ever stores the minimum data needed to provide fast communication and collaboration.
External collaboration can be equally tricky. Most companies will, at some point, need to communicate with people outside their organization, whether to collaborate on a project, discuss deliverables, or offer support. However, many chat apps can make adding guests difficult or even require the purchase of additional seats. Look into each chat app’s features for collaborating with people outside your team.
Finally, you may not want to stick with the same chat app forever or perhaps you just need to be secure in the knowledge you can always access chat logs, however long into the future. This is most efficiently achieved by choosing a team chat app built on open standards.
As mentioned before, Spike’s powerful email chat is built on traditional email, meaning you can access your conversations from any email client and they’ll last as long as your email hosting. What’s more, since it is based on email, you can loop in any external collaborators without having to worry about them using the same platform or even signing up.
Are You Ready to Choose a Team Chat App? Wrap-Up
Team chat apps offer fast, direct, real-time communication that can increase productivity, improve engagement, unify resources, boost morale and more. However, with so many on offer today, choosing the right team chat app for your business can be a challenge.
To make things easier, we’ve identified three fundamental factors for choosing a team chat app: functionality and features, usability, and data access.
Any chat app you choose should have the features you need without adding an extra burden, and all those features – even the advanced ones – should be easy to use for every team member. What’s more, you need solid security built in, along with simple external collaboration and chat migration.
By building on the power of business email, with a clean and simple interface and design, Spike offers the best team-chat features in an easy-to-use package. What’s more, Spike unifies a number of other collaborative tools – from video calls to task management – so you can cut down your tool sprawl while boosting your team’s productivity.
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