With the number of worldwide IM accounts continuing to increase by the year, more and more businesses are turning their attention to this method of communication.
There’s a big difference between understanding the benefits of a business instant messenger and actually implementing this tool within a company.
Fortunately, the process of finding and deciding on an application is easier than ever before, due in large part to the number of available options and the amount of information – such as customer reviews and case studies – available online.
A Simple Four-Step Approach
If you’re in the process of searching for an enterprise instant messenger, there’s a simple four-step approach you can follow:
Know Your Must-Have Features
Every company has a list of must-have features, so you’ll want to list these out before beginning your search.
For example, some of the most commonly used IM features in today’s world include:
- Advanced safety and security, such as 256-bit encryption software
- Voice and video chat
- Screen sharing
- User status visibility
- Chat rooms
- Unlimited size file transfer
Some of these features may be important to you, whereas others won’t move the needle. Regardless of what you’re looking for, make sure you have a list in place before you begin your search.
Take Advantage of a Free Trial
How will you know if a particular IM application is right for you until you give it a try? Rather than spend money to experiment with a program, search for those that offer a free trial.
Imagine this: you have five business days to spend time with an instant messenger. Here’s a basic break down of what you should do on each day:
- Day 1: Learn more about the features, and decide how you’ll test the program
- Day 2: Share the program with key team members, while encouraging feedback
- Day 3: Begin to use the IM for regular communication
- Day 4: Test each individual feature to better understand how it works
- Day 5: Review your experience with your team, and decide if keeping the IM is a good choice
This is just a basic overview of the approach you can take, but it’s a good jumping off point. You may do things in a different order – such as getting your team on board on day one – and that’s okay. Just make sure you have a plan in place for making the most of your time.
Talk to Your Employees
This may be the third step in the process, but it’s every bit as important as the other two. Here’s why: your employees are the ones using the instant messenger day after day. So, if they’re happy with the application, you can be rest assured they’ll use it regularly. Conversely, if they don’t like what it offers, you’ll struggle to get them on board.
You can’t satisfy every employee, but you can at least get the input of each one. The feedback you collect will allow you to make an informed and confident decision.
Here are seven questions to ask employees:
- Do you have any experience using a business instant messenger?
- Which features do you consider the most important?
- Which features are you okay living without?
- Is there something in particular you would like the application to be able to do?
- Are you comfortable using instant messaging as your primary method of communication?
- Do you have any experience or knowledge of the space that could help with training?
- What do you feel is a reasonable amount of time to learn how to use a business instant messenger?
As you receive responses, you’ll begin to understand what will work best for your team across the board.
Create an Implementation Plan
It doesn’t matter which instant messenger you choose, you should have a clear idea of how you want to implement it into your company.
There is a right and wrong way of doing this.
The right way is to announce your decision to your team, explain the steps you have in place, and discuss the ins and outs of training. This approach will put your employees at ease, as they realize they won’t be on their own to figure everything out.
Conversely, the wrong way to implement IM technology is to simply tell your employees that it’s available to them and let them figure it out on their own. If you do this, you’ll have a large amount of people shying away from the technology, as they won’t know how to use it effectively.
Here are five basic elements of an implementation plan:
- Announcement about the instant messenger you’ve selected (and why it was your choice)
- Information on when it will be ready to use
- Overview of how to use the application and where to turn for more information
- Formal training (ask a couple employees to help you with this)
- On-going training and support
If you take this approach, you shouldn’t have any concerns about the majority of your team catching on and using the application as intended.
A Real Life Example
Krishna Bhat, CEO of Kloudio – a tech startup that allows you to access and update business data from spreadsheets – has strong feelings about the use of instant messaging in the workplace.
“When it comes to IM as a mode of communication for startups, I believe it’s an absolute must in today’s world, even more so than just a few years back,” said Bhat.
“For us, it’s great to have access to an IM client, as it fuels productivity and allows our remote team to work collaboratively. It’s not the only method of communication we use, but for companies of all sizes an IM is the right solution for everything from team meetings to progress on projects to sharing financials and key business metrics.”
You Aren’t Alone
With nearly 50 percent of business professionals noting that they use an instant messenger at work, it’s safe to assume you’re not the only one searching for the perfect application.
Instant messaging is gaining traction among companies of all sizes, spanning every industry imaginable. Some of the biggest brands using IM technology include:
- Velocity Global
If you need a push in the right direction, ask your coworkers, clients, and business partners if they have any suggestions on which IM is best. They may have personal experience with this technology, such as from a previous job.
Any company, regardless of size or industry, has the ability to harness the power of a business IM. But, before you can do so, you must have a clear idea of how to find and decide on the right technology.
Once you choose an instant messenger, the final step in the process is implementing it within your company. From there, you’ll soon realize the positive impact it’s having on communication and company culture as a whole.