Instant messaging in business
It’s not often that conglomerates turn to the teenagers for inspiration on how to communicate more effectively, but this is exactly what has happened in the case of instant messaging (IM).
As little as a decade ago, IM was a digital language used almost exclusively by teenagers. The software had almost no association with any kind of big brand name, other than those who hosted the servers, such as MSN and Yahoo.
But the best businesses are built on effective communication, and now that the full potential of IM has become abundantly clear to occupants of the corporate domain, more and more companies have begun to embrace Instant messaging as an important cog in their communications protocol.
Instant messaging officially has a place in the contemporary business world, but what benefits does it offer? Does IM have the longevity to remain pertinent in a business world that is seemingly destined to remain in a constant state of flux?
Instant messaging vs email
Since our shift to the digital era, email has reigned supreme as the communications tool of choice for both small and larger businesses, but it appears that might be about to change. Instant messaging offers businesses an opportunity to interact in real-time with clients and colleagues, complementing an ever-increasing desire for speed and efficiency in the workplace.
While read receipts can be requested on email, although recipients often ignore them, this form of communication often requires waiting for a response and a period of delays. With IM, businesses can ascertain whether the message has been successfully received and read, and this is encouraging companies to utilize the likes of Messenger, WhatsApp and Skype to stimulate and encourage fast responses.
Most people have smartphones nowadays, and the vast majority of users often have at least one of the above IM apps installed on their phone. While they may not necessarily check their emails outside of work hours, it’s likely they will continue to open the likes of Messenger and WhatsApp. This allows businesses to engage in round-the-clock, instant communication with their staff.
More than 27 percent of IM users now communicate via instant messaging at work, and several reputable voices in the business and technology world are expecting this number to increase considerably over the course of 2016. While this move away from email and towards IM shows a renewed desire for increased efficiency in communications, it also reflects a noteworthy shift in business culture.
There has been a rise in the number of offices introducing ‘casual’ Fridays or eliminating dress codes altogether, and many newer, smaller businesses believe that staff morale and productivity is at higher levels in less formal setting. IM itself is an informal method of communication, and the way in which businesses are switching over from email helps to demonstrate how organizations are eager to make the working environment feel less like work. IM is casual and easy, much like the workplace setting a lot of companies are attempting to introduce.
Advantages of instant messaging
It appears that IM is very likely to become more popular with businesses worldwide over the course of the next year, and if you are considering hopping aboard the bandwagon, it is worth being aware of what IM can do for your company. Here are just some of the great advantages.
- Faster, more effective communication
- Better customer service
- Safety and security
IM may be a more informal method of communication, but it many ways, it is far superior to the likes of emails or answerphone messages. First and foremost, IM is accessible for anyone with a smartphone, which in today’s day and means two billion people. IM can also be set up and run on tablets, laptops and desktop computers with ease, offering staff the opportunity to correspond with both clients and customers from multiple machines instantly.
Studies have shown that IM is beneficial on an internal level as well as for client-facing communication. If face-to-face meetings are not possible, brainstorming sessions can be held across IM, which can inspire greater creativity as members of group chats can repeatedly bounce ideas off one another in real time.
Many businesses now have pop-up IM services on their webpages, which allows visitors to communicate with a staff member if they have any questions. This encourages more people to make online inquiries, as it takes much less time and effort to send an instant message than an email and feels far less formal. Anyone who does choose to ask a question is also likely to receive a near-immediate response.
IM eliminates the need to wait hours, days or even weeks for a response to an email, and spares customers from having to spend lengthy amounts of time in a call queue. People like having problems solved and questions answered as quickly as possible, and when they get in touch with a staff member over IM, they can see their query is being attended to there and then, which ultimately leads to considerably higher levels of customer satisfaction.
Instant messaging has also proved popular given its ability to offer substantial long-term savings for businesses. Most IM services are free to install and use, offering no additional charges for communicating on a long-distance basis with parties based overseas. This means international call fees are no longer applicable, and companies can interact effectively with international employees, customers and suppliers for free, leading to substantial savings in the long run.
A nagging issue with email is spam. No matter how many filters you put up, every inbox is vulnerable to phishing scams and junk mail, some of which has the potential to infect your network with viruses and cause other damaging issues.
While IM isn’t completely free of spam, it is a rare occurrence to see it appear on the likes of Messenger and WhatsApp. Given how there are considerably less scammers directly targeting IM, it is often a safe choice for private messaging. Security must remain a priority in your communications protocol, and IM is often better suited for keeping computers, mobile devices and networks secure.
Instant messaging: The future?
It’s evident instant messaging has a huge role to play in the future of how businesses interact and communicate on an internal and external basis. If you’d like to find out more about how IM can assist your business and which service will best suit your system, get in touch with a leading communications solutions provider such as Primus.