Team communication is an important topic to tackle as an agency. A major component of that communication is the medium you select to facilitate and organize your interactions. Your choice can ultimately slow your agency down or speed it up.
Nowadays, there are more chat tools to choose from than ever before. Ancient services like AOL Instant Messenger (yes, some agencies actually use it) continue to hang around amongst an host of new players storming the market. This begs the question, "What should I use for my agency?"
For our agency GuavaBox, we've tried several team communication apps over the years. Today I'm going to talk about Slack, how it speeds us up, and how our inbound marketing team makes the most of it.
Getting the Most out of Slack for Your Agency:
Why Use a Team Chat App?
We implemented Slack to take all of the communication that used to happen via email, text, phone, Skype chat, Google Chat, HipChat, in-person chat, and team meetings and roll the vast majority of it up inside one central location.
Faster Response Times
I've found that I tend to have a slower response time to email, so the other intention behind Slack was to speed up our team's response time. A quick Slack message is a lot easier to respond to than a full-blown email.
On another note, this also cleans out our inboxes and clears the way for client emails.
Context Available for Everyone
Centralizing your communication is beneficial for the entire team.
Too often context about a client goes back and forth in email threads. This might be helpful for the immediate people involved on the project, but what about that person who comes in later? If you keep all the necessary information in one place, anybody has access to the context at any time.
How Does Slack Work?
You can download Slack for your desktop and your phone. Both versions are seemlessly integrated so you'll never miss or lose a message again.
Slack is set up in the following hierachy of information:
- Starred Team Members - these are the people you chat with the most often. This section is for one-on-one communication.
- Channels - these are dedicated to specific categories of conversation. Our basic structure includes clients, general, Hubspot-cos, marketing, the Pittsburgh office, productivity, random, sales, and webchat (live chat requests from our website, which we'll get into more in episode 10).
- Direct Messages - this is another area for one-on-one conversations with people in your team.
- Private Groups - any private discussions between two or more people go here. These are generally reserved for conversations that you don't want the rest of your team to see. I advocate for keeping communications as transparent as possible. That being said, I recommend keeping everything within your Channels whenever possible.
Why Choose Slack over HipChat?
Here are a few advantages that Slack has over HipChat:
- Advanced Notification Control - you can set up notifications in a variety of ways. Most notably, you can set them only for direct messages, mentions in Channels, or even specific words that you can set in your preferences.
- Search - your ability to search is better than what's available in HipChat, especially since it canonicizes.
- Integrations - most notably are the integration capabilities available in Slack. The list is expansive and impressive.
- Slackbot - I'll cover this more later, but Slackbot is a whole feature of its own. With specific key strings, you can easily tell it to remind you of something later on.