Qualities to Look for in a Chat App for Your Business

There are many reasons why an increasing number of businesses are turning to chat apps for effective communication in the workplace.

In a recent internal experiment, Halton Housing Trust, a company that owns and manages 6,400 homes and employs 280 people, found that the employees typically spent 40% of their work weeks sending and responding to emails that added no value to the business.

In contrast, research from the November 2012 McKinsey Quarterly found that social communication platforms can boost productivity by 25-30%, which adds up to an average of 8% time saved. That’s over three hours of time savings for a typical 40-hour work week!

Not only is a chat app a cost efficient approach, but it also helps you boost productivity levels significantly because you can do so much within the same platform. Of course this is dependent, though, on choosing the right chat app. 

Below, we outline the qualities you should look for in a chat app for your business.

Features

The first thing you always need to consider are the features within the chat app you choose. You need to ensure it has the comprehensive suite that will bring your company’s productivity to the highest level. For example, when looking for a comprehensive app, ask can employees upload documents and create tasks for others to see in the same place that they’re chatting, or do they need separate tools for these things? Is video conferencing included in the chat app? If so, are there limits to the amount of time you can video conference per month and/or the number of people you can video conference with? 

The above features are essential tools yet it’s also important to look for features that help you connect with all types of contacts, not just internal colleagues. For example, can users create a public profile in the chat app so a consultant they may want to hire or partner up with can find and reach them easily? And can external contacts you’re not connected to in the chat app strike up a chat conversation with you if you’ve both been invited to the same group chat?

When acquiring a chat app for business purposes, it needs to go above and beyond the standard chat applications that are on the market for personal use.

Security

Security is of paramount importance, especially now when it seems that not a day goes by without news of a data breach somewhere in the world. You need to find a company that takes security seriously, meaning they go the extra mile to meet the latest standards of privacy and compliance. One example of an important compliance standard today is the protection of personally identifiable information in the Cloud, otherwise known as ISO 27018.

Affordability

One of the main benefits associated with the chat apps on the market today is their ability to keep all of your communication and collaboration needs in one place - reducing business expenses. The best options will have several plans with varying prices, allowing you to select the most suitable plan for your business. Yet even their most basic plan (which is often times free or just a nominal monthly fee) should be comprehensive enough to keep you from having to jump from tool to tool just to meet basic communication and collaboration needs.

Mobile Compatibility

Don’t simply assume that the chat app you choose is going to work on all devices. Make sure it works on both PC and mobile. All of the best apps will be compatible with Mac and Windows. And if your business implements a “Bring Your Own Device” policy, it is imperative to ensure that the app can be downloaded via both the iStore and Google Play Store.

In addition, when looking for a mobile application, make sure it has the features and capabilities to do what you will need to do on the go. For example, you might be able to chat in a tool’s desktop or web version on a PC, but can you take more sophisticated actions like send and manage tasks? Can you quickly and easily send a photo you just snapped or an image that’s stored in your phone? When you’re away at a conference, can you find other users there to connect with for business or partnership opportunities?

Language

Global businesses need a chat app to work in a multiple languages. It’s worth finding a tool that allows you to do this. For example, some chat apps let your U.S.-based employee use the app in English, no matter where in the globe they’re traveling at given time, and their colleague in Vietnam to use the app in Vietnamese in the exact same way. 

If you consider the five qualities mentioned above, you can be sure you’ve found a high-quality chat app that is suitable for your business.