For small businesses, a reliable messaging service is essential to the company’s success.
Messaging tools ensure collaboration and communication, especially if you have remote employees and are on the go yourself as a business owner.
The best tools are easy to use and intuitive, and allow you to problem-solve and share information in real-time. Below are four of the most popular messaging services & apps out there for today’s small business owner:
1. SMS Text
Short message service ("SMS") texts allow you to use your cell phone plan to send short messages to one or more people. It’s easy and convenient; the majority of people have cell phones now, so you can contact clients and workers on their current devices.
People tend to prefer texts over calls. They’re quicker, and allow people to read and edit messages on their own schedule. They’re more immediate than email, and users do not have to download any special software or apps.
However, depending on your cell phone plan, relying on SMS text can be expensive. If you go beyond your allotted threshold, you could be on the hook for pricey fees. Plus there are limits to how you can communicate via SMS text - you can’t send broadcasts or schedule follow-ups to go out, and there are other feature limitations when comparing SMS to other messaging apps.
SMS covers the “basics”, but there are a lot more things you prefer to communicate to your clients besides simple texts and photos.
2. Facebook Messenger
Facebook is free to use and allows you to chat with individuals or small groups. Facebook can be a useful option because many people use Facebook on a daily basis in the personal lives. You can use Facebook Messenger for discussions or questions and to send pictures and video.
However, relying on Facebook Messenger as your primary messaging service has some drawbacks.
Anyone you want to communicate with must have the Facebook messaging app installed (unlike regular SMS text, Facebook does not come pre-installed on smartphones). To use Facebook Messenger on a smartphone, both you and your clients will need to download a separate app, which can be an annoyance for busy business people.
In addition, many business owners prefer to have their conversations with clients separate from conversations with Facebook friends. Some feel as though messaging clients via Facebook isn’t the most “professional” mode of communication.
Whatsapp is available on both your computer and smartphone. It uses your internet connection to make voice and video calls. After being acquired by Facebook in 2014, Whatsapp no longer charges customers an annual fee to use the service. Unlike some other messaging services, Whatsapp does not display any third party advertising.
While Whatsapp is a free service, it does require users to download the app on their smartphone or computer. This again causes friction on the customer’s end to ask them to “do work” to download an app that they will only use for your business’s communication.
In addition, there have been some security concerns, which could prevent some clients from using the app – especially if personal information and payment information is being exchanged over this messaging service.
4. PocketSuite Messenger
PocketSuite is a messaging app but hyper-focused on service and small business owners.
The app supports basic messaging features like normal text and photo sharing, but also has a suite of messaging tools available like scheduling messages to be sent, creating & naming customer groups, sending out broadcast announcement messaging, and saving/sending common message templates (like shortcuts) to customers.
The app comes with a built-in calendar and payments tool as well. So within every message thread with your customer, you can easily schedule an appointment, send a professional request for payment, and more. It’s more of a one-stop-shop communication tool for businesses with their clients.
The best part is clients don’t need to download any app on their end – no friction! They send and receive all messages on their end over regular text message. So they don’t even know a separate app is being used by the business – they can text your business just like they text their friends.
To get a dedicated business line there is a small monthly fee, but you can also use the app for free if you’d like if you prefer just a basic, organized client messaging tool (without additional messaging feature).