Reach Out and Touch Someone
by Bill Nolan
No, I’m not referring to those sappy phone commercials from the 80’s. I’m talking about the new ways businesses are using technology to communicate with customers and communicate internally. After all, growing your business is based on how well you convey what it is you do and what needs to be done to do what you do. Keeping in touch with your team and your customers couldn’t be more important than it is today, specially with the vultures out there looking to infiltrate. And we know you are up with the times, but we wanted to take a moment to review. What steps are you taking to get with the times, grow your team and reach customers in new ways? Put down the phone, as we know it, and pick up your ‘smart phone’ filled with the latest messaging and chat apps and social communication tools… right at your finger tips.
It’s a Brand New World
There are so many new ways of communicating with your business team. You may think it is silly, but with almost 4 billion users monthly, chat apps are coming into their own. Collaborate, set goals, manage events, track the status of jobs, get answers now and take coffee orders in real-time. These ‘text’ style chat apps are the answer for growing business communications and streamlining business. And here are just a few.
Slack – This app helps your business streamline the communication between team members via text or video calls. The features of this service are numerous and include everything from public/private ‘channels,’ guest accounts and screen sharing capabilities to enhance workflow. Have a team member that can’t make a meeting? No worries. Slack boasts a searchable archive of past meetings which will quickly help them get caught up. A free option is available along with paid packages up to $12.50/monthly per user.
HipChat – Compatible with basically everything – Mac, Windows, iOS, Android, and Linux – so you can throw the “it doesn’t work on my device” excuse out of the window. This app quickly lets you share files, images, links and messages while maintaining a history for future reference. Like the others, it also gives you video chat, screen sharing, guest access and more. Of course HipChat offers a basic free version, but their premium program is only $3/monthly per user – so ante up. I’m sure you can find that under your couch cushions.
WhatsApp – Available on Android, iPhone, Mac or Windows PC and Windows Phone… although WhatsApp may not have the same ‘professional’ feel as the others, this platform can still perform. Its features include messaging, video chat and file sharing – plain and simple. Depending on your business, that may be adequate. What is missing? Unfortunately you won’t get screen sharing and conference call capabilities. However, with Facebook being the puppet master, things may change soon on this one. The service is free for now, but it looks like a paid and revamped version is coming soon.
The advantages of these chat apps are abundant and the disadvantages pale in comparison. Most issues will stem from the learning curve. Those should subside quickly as long as you enforce the app. These apps are here to get you and your business organized and running like a well-oiled machine.
Let Us Count the ‘Additional’ Ways.
In addition to the chat apps for teams, we now have some interesting communication tools ready for us to stay connected with customers and potential clients. Build your audience, showcase your business and be there to answer questions directly. It’s the new way of customer service. Just think about the possibilities…
Facebook Messenger – With over 1.2 billion monthly users, odds are your customers are active on Facebook Messenger. So, why not communicate with them there? Estimates show over 2 billion messages are sent between businesses and customers on this app monthly. There are a bevy of tools, like Messenger Codes, available to help your business provide a positive user experience. Let customers know your business wants to communicate with them and ease any concerns or answer any questions they may have. You are here for them. Messaging groups included – just think of the possibilities.
Twitter Direct Messages – Let’s hit the ground running and start conversations. Make the first move. Twitter Direct is perfect for this. Your business can create multiple messages that will appear to current and potential customers as soon as they click the message button in Twitter. This is a great opportunity for you to focus on clients and get creative with communication. Just be prepared for that one-on-one with clients. They actually respond!
LinkedIn Mail & Sponsored InMail – As with Facebook Messenger and Twitter Messages, LinkedIn has direct InMail too. And, they are taking their platform to the next level. LinkedIn Sponsored InMail is a powerful tool allowing you to send personalized messages with calls-to-action to targeted audiences. Built to be more of a business marketing app, sponsored InMail enables you to quickly send personalized invites to events, services and increase your ROI with targeted promotions. This service is touted for its great design and mobile responsiveness – which means it won’t appear as advertising gibberish. Another strong attribute of sponsored InMail is that the messages only get delivered while the recipients are on line.
While the benefits of these services are robust, problems are always possible. Still in their infancy, most concerns stem from businesses becoming too lazy with the messaging tools. They either use them without strategy, or they are not prepared to respond when customers actually connect back. And of course, in the end, clients will eventually want to speak with an actual person. Have a plan in place when using these new ways of messaging.
I’ve only highlighted a few of the latest chat apps and social messaging tools out there today. This way of communication is just beginning. Communication by phone is changing as we know it. Experiment, investigate and stay tuned, because your competitors are.
Watch for more in-depth updates to chat about.