Business Tech Playbook

#9 – Instant Messaging for Business

10 months ago
Transcript
Robbz

This is the Business Tech Playbook, your source for it help for your business. Welcome to the I'm sorry, I gotta check my instant Messaging. I'm gonna put it on silent. BJ. Do you have yours on silent?

BJ

Ding ding, ding, ding ding. Yeah, I just turned my phone over so I can't see it.

Robbz

Well, that terrible. Intro is our segue way into going to have the topic on instant messaging platforms for work. Bing Bong.

BJ

Sorry, I guess that actually makes sense. You got to have fun with it. I totally was listening to a podcast the other day where somebody was like, I always come up with a podcast intros. What do you say we should do? And the guy was like, well, that'll do. And then that's literally their podcast intro every single time. Now we're going to be doing that every single time. Like, hey, did you check your phone and have the Apple iPhone alert go off?

Robbz

Bing Bong. Well, I am your host, Rob Zolson.

BJ

And I'm your co host, William Pote, and we're here to talk about our podcast business, Tech Playbook, and how communication and instant messaging in your company can work.

Robbz

Instant Messaging is not for everyone. Let's start there. If your business requires collaboration, you're in an office setting. I feel like it's one of the communication methods that you should have. If you are in a place where you're not working on a computer or you're not using a piece of tech to collaborate and communicate is the only reason that you wouldn't. If you're driving in a taxi, you'll probably use some sort of communication like SMS going back. If you're going to be in a factory, you still have your punch in and out, your other source of getting your work done. But for everybody else, you should be open to all forms of communication email, telephone, and of course, instant Messaging. If you're not using it or you feel it's a distraction, let us change your mind.

BJ

Well, and to be fair, sometimes it is a distraction. But they've also built in a lot of tools that allow you to kind of help focus yourself around that distractions. And it's to the point where I'll say especially if your team is remote, having some kind of instant Messaging communication tool is a it's a 100% requirement. It's to the point where we focus so hard on things here at our office that sometimes I will send a message to someone who's sitting next to me because I don't want to disrupt their train of thought. Just literally so that way they can, if they are on Do Not Disturb, they can ignore it until they have a chance to get back to me.

Robbz

Now, everybody has a different way of doing their job. For instance, you and I are very different people. I bet that we feel comfortable in different scenarios. Me, I like the chaos. Yes, for sure. I'm not going to work as efficiently getting distracted. But emotionally, I don't get bogged down by people coming at me from every direction. This makes me okay when kids are yelling and screaming. I'm not a perfect parent, but that does not bother me. My kid, yeah, having it, throwing a fit, distracting me while I'm doing something, doesn't give me anxiety. I'm lucky to at least have that piece in my life, but when I'm working, it is even though I'm not bogged down by it, I'm still not as efficient as I could be. So people are afraid to start getting into instant messaging that haven't been in the past because they feel it's a distraction pit. So here are a few tools we'll talk about how to use it and then give you some ideas for some platforms to use out there. If you're in the email world, which you have to be, that is sometimes abused as an instant messaging platform, and you live and breathe in that email environment, there's an entire lecture, and we'll probably get into more details in another episode on how to handle different email cheats. But there's a whole idea of inbox zero. Inbox Zero, if I remember correctly, allows you four times a day to check your email. Once in the morning, twice in midday, and once before you go home. And every time you do that, you should bring your inbox to zero, whether it's addressing the email firsthand, scheduling it at another time to do the work, replying back, or even putting it into a sub file in your email program so that everything in your email box gets addressed right away and doesn't get lost. Now, I've tried inbox zero as a methodology, and it worked. Well, it may not work for everybody, but the idea is that you're not allowing yourself to be distracted by your email and have it interrupt you during your work. You're dedicating those four scheduled times a day to check your messages, and if it's more important than that, you would let them physically talk to you. Call or have it an instant message. So using the instant message isn't still as a priority as a phone call. In my opinion, how most people I believe should handle it is email lowest priority. Instant messaging is the next time you can address it. If you're in the middle of something, you shouldn't be looking at your instant message. And if it is an emergency, they have a telephone number that I can pick up and call and address as more of a priority. That's how I've handled it in the past. It doesn't work for necessarily everyone, but it's a good guide to use in your business, especially with those that are intellectuals. If you have a CAD drafter, some sort of engineer, a developer or programmer, someone that's in the thought process that a single interruption can cost them 30 minutes of their intellectual work, that they have to continually hit the restart button, for that's, at least my method that I would encourage you to try.

BJ

And I think it comes down to kind of like the overall culture of the company. So I definitely see people expect that emails are treated like a phone call, it's an emergency, you need to take care of this. And it's like, well, if it was not emergent enough to email me, then it must not be a real it might be important, but that doesn't mean emergent.

Robbz

You have to have this be published out to your team so that you're all on the same page of how you handle emergencies. So you know that phone calls are important and no one's going to transfer a phone call to you unless it's importance one. If they don't know that, then email might seem more important to them. And everybody has their different level of priority. And then over messages. Just because I need to get a hold of someone right now, suddenly you have three instant messages. Two emails. I've called them twice and they don't know which one was the actual priority to set it up to for sure.

BJ

And for me personally, I get to the point where I've done almost no, I do almost no email internally for me personally to another team member, it's just not a good form of communication. Most of the time what I need is relatively short, relatively quick, and I'm either going to do it with a call or a team's message. So we internally happen to use Teams, which is one of the major chat platforms out there. But part of why we've adopted it so heavily is because I didn't want to be texting people and we also use it for our calling. So we do all of our phone calls, all of our conferences. Literally anything communication related for us is inside of teams.

Robbz

I actually set up a guide for a couple of different companies that were trying to put together a communication guide. They had in their guide that they chose. And you could edit this to your liking depending on your priority and how you want to communicate that to everybody. But setting the standard does really help efficiency. So what they put is 24 hours. That is the expectation that you would get back by sending an email. We will get you at least a response to address your email within one business day or 24 hours. Instant messaging, we will at least be able to read an address every hour. If you've instant message us within an hour, I should be able to look in most situations that's the average. And a phone call is what they called the immediate resource. If you can't get a hold of them by phone, guess what, you're just not going to get a hold of them.

BJ

Well, and that's pretty fair. I found that people, again, try to really hard bypass that good, bad or ugly. My own personal hygiene towards responding to emails and to teams messages is not nearly as good as it should be. I need to be a lot better at being okay with an alert and not actually being distracted by it because I very much, as you say, let love the chaos. And it's like, oh great, the next problem. I get to solve the next problem, which isn't always very effective.

Robbz

I had a prior disagreement with a person I worked with, and they said, Why are you instant messaging me? I'm like, I don't expect a response back. I treat it like a text message. If I send my friend an SMS, I'm not hurt. I'm not sitting by my phone looking for a response. I'm looking for the next availability that they have to sit down and look at their phone. That's only fair. I have to be respectful to you as I want to be treated. Do I want to get mad at you if I didn't respond back in 20 minutes to a text message? That certainly should carry over to business. You need to be respectful of someone else's time.

BJ

Well, I think you misunderstand how the majority of the world treats a text message when so many people are afraid to make a call. The text message is the why haven't you responded to me? And then you step back even further from there and now you have read receipts. Like, half the time I'll look at something, realize I need to reply to it later and mark it unread. And so if you're doing a read receipt in your email, a Read receipt in your chat program, a Read receipt like on Imessage. Oh, man, that's like the first thing I turn off when I realize it's an option.

Robbz

Absolutely. And you can turn it off. It's not something that is required in those platforms. Even like my wife, she'll think she needs something from me. Well, it says you read it. Like, I didn't. I just swiped the notification away because I knew I could deal with you in the next hour. And that is not a great conversation with my wife to have.

BJ

Well, and that's the challenge that I see with a lot of people with communication is like, there's just this expectation of like, well, I messaged you. Why haven't you responded? And it's like, well, it's been three minutes. Then they call you to tell you that they sent you a message and sent you an email. And it's like, dude or person, like, chill out. It's hard to spend every second of every day responding to things, especially if you want work done right now.

Robbz

This does not carry over to what I call emergent groups, meaning Customer Service Network Operations Center, where they're trying to watch for outages and emergencies. It doesn't help for help desk scenarios that you'd have your initial policy of, say, we're just going to pretend one day for email, 1 hour for message, and then calls are more immediate. Well, number one, calls in those scenarios are going to be more difficult to happen. You can't pick up a phone when they're already on the phone. So you have to assume that Direct Messaging and Instant Message is going to be more emergent. And then they're going to have Teams channels where you have a group of people working the same type of job. Even in our business in an MSP world, we get tickets from customers or phone calls from customers, and we have to deal with those by priority and first come, first serve. It's a blend. If someone's down and not working, that's generally going to be our priority. So we work through those and in there we help each other in the team group. So if someone has a question, has a problem, we need to be more consistently aware of what's going on in that team group chat than we would be for, say, an email or a lower priority Instant Message. So these rules don't apply everywhere, but you should at least have a base and then modify them per the group's requirements.

BJ

Well, and that goes back to pretty much every single one of our conversation is really, it's understanding the business outcomes that you're looking to have. And so for us, teams and chat is extremely critical because of how distributed we are. And it allows me to be working at a client, having a conversation, doing some account management. I can go grab my laptop, sit at one of their tables, connect to the WiFi, and work for half an hour, answer some messages, deal with everything I need to jump to the next meeting. It allows me to be more in control over my communication, and I can't necessarily be just like sitting there in the office waiting for people to talk. And it allows me to oversee what's going on, pay attention, and then respond when I have the time.

Robbz

Right now, some of the platforms to get this done, if you have either Microsoft Office, like Office 365, and that's where your email is from, you have the Word, the Outlook, the Excel. If you're using this platform, the Office 365 platform, you already have a tool that's built in with that subscription. It is Microsoft teams. That is the interface that you can create group conversations. You can have sharing boards with different projects, information and documentation all built in with your OneDrive. You have your video conversations all baked in and can even invite external parties into your chat. Like if you have a vendor or a specific customer, which sometimes I don't recommend. Great platform to use. Google has the other offering of Google Meet that does the same thing. You have your group chats. You have everything linked into your Google Drive. It does essentially most everything that Teams offers as well, all within your enterprise subscription. For Google Workspace, those are the places to start if you're paying for those that would probably be our first recommendation is don't go outside that environment. There's already a tool suite that can do this for you that's all controlled from your company completely.

BJ

So we're 100% office 365. So all of our clients have Microsoft teams baked into their subscription already. And so we're even seeing this for field. So one of our clients is a pest control company. They have around a dozen people that work in the office and around 40 people that are fully remote. They're pest technicians, they're doing termite work, they're doing routes, but they're slowly moving everyone over to having a licensed account. So that way all of their field people, they no longer have to deal with group chats or group text messages that oh, they fired somebody and now they have to go get a new group chat. They have to start up a new teams message with a new person that they hire. They literally can just say, great, it's teams, we disabled the user. Done. You can add and remove people very easily. So they all have company phones. We're going to work with them in getting teams installed everywhere and literally every single field per person is going to be able to do their chatting that way.

Robbz

Especially when you're doing a response like a technician based job where you have to send people to sites and you have a scheduled calendar that's baked into these software. These software is for Google and Microsoft. If you have a place where someone has to go in a queue and figure out who they're going be scheduled next, it's nice to have their calendar right there with it and everyone gets to see that same calendar in the same SMS environment. So you know that Joe's going to be taking care of the emergency call up here while I can go take care of the scheduled call for him that he was supposed to go on. Everything can be conveyed in one spot, in one app and it's all secured through your business licensing already. So it's not open to other people. It's all controlled and the company owns that data well.

BJ

And actually the part that's nice was if you have multiple organizations that you work with that have teams, you can actually do teams to teams communication. So one of our clients will reach out to me occasionally on teams. It actually is very nice because it means I know they're not texting me, they're not emailing me, I can reply. And like and then it's always in that one stream of communication versus me having to did they email me that? Did they text me that? I really do not like texting for business personally because it means I have to remember what and who and that kind of thing.

Robbz

We treat it as though SMS messaging here in the company. We treat it as though if you send a text message that has nothing to do with the company. That's your personal message, that you're just sending a funny joke to your coworker. We live so much in teams that if it's in teams, it's part of the business related deal, and we shouldn't even have to look in SMS. At least that's for our particular job. That's how we get to work.

BJ

Well, for us, it's literally like you said, if I get a text from somebody, it's usually there's a real legit problem and they can't get to a computer or teams, and usually it's I'm out today, but even then, I don't even think I have everyone's cell phone number in mind because I don't need it. Because they have teams on their phone, they send a message, great, that's all I need.

Robbz

Voila the other options that you have outside of these environments for Microsoft and Google is using third party business apps. Now, I would recommend when you're looking for these chat agents, there's a ton of different places that can handle SMS messages for business. There's places that can do instant messaging for business. There's even the old IIRC chats, which I don't recommend getting started in at all. But when you do homework and you're looking for a chat, make sure it's intended for business. Make sure that you have the OAuth. That's where you can use your Microsoft login, your Google login, your company login to log into these platforms. Make sure that they have full on backups, and way you can access and export the data. Make sure that they have verbiage that that is your data that you can delete from their platform entirely. Do the homework. The clear winner outside of the Google and the Microsoft environment is Slack. Slack has a free program. You can get started, and for more messaging, more history, more analytics, more control, you can throw them a few dollars per user. I don't know what the price is currently. I used to know that they had a plan that was like a dollar a user that you can get.

BJ

Oh, it's a lot more than that.

Robbz

Yeah, it's a lot more than that. This was years and years ago. But they have full enterprise options and control, and it's a full, robust business platform that is easy to use, put on your phone. It works like the other Google and Microsoft clients, but the deal is it would be separate licensing outside of your environment. So if you're not paying for the Google 365, slack might be something for you where you don't have to have that big boy license.

BJ

Well, the funny part is, like, Slack is somewhere between seven or $8 and about twelve or $15 per person, which is in line with what you would pay for Microsoft licensing for email and everything else. So I really am surprised that Slack is doing as good as they are.

Robbz

Frankly, you and me both. Those numbers don't make sense.

BJ

I mean, of course I went to Slack.com to take a look at it. And it's in the no. Yeah, that's there.

Robbz

There you go. The pound's worth way more than we are. Come on, now.

BJ

The pound is more, but the euro was as close to zero as I've ever seen it recently. Oh, it was not zero dollar value, but it was as close to one to one as I've ever seen. It was like 1.61.5 to one, which is pretty low.

Robbz

Slack gained its ground because before we had a lot of the enterprise features in Microsoft teams and Google meet, which they've changed at google, the name a couple times for the business chat, they had much more, faster growing, robust features in slack, and it was free. They got in, they had people using it, adopting it, and then they had so much data that they didn't want to have the inconvenience of moving it to another platform. And that's what they got in. Kind of like zoom. Suddenly we had COVID, everybody and their mom started using zoom because it was free, convenient, and that's their foot in the door. And now they've been using it so long, they pay for the premium features and they're just kind of in. They don't want to change.

BJ

Yeah, they're kind of stuck at this point. No, that's a really good point. I know that for sure. They were one of the first ones to the party, and so as a result, there was a lot of vendor lock in there. It's not exactly an easy thing to migrate from. That being said, if you're not tied to all of that information, teams is a good platform, slack is a good platform. Google meets a decent platform in.

Robbz

I got that clipped.

BJ

All right, I had to get that dig in.

Robbz

You did?

BJ

Another one that I started seeing more is discord, and we see that aimed at gamers, typically. I'm still not sure I would use it for a true business to business conversation, but we're seeing it. So one of our vendors that we use does all of their normal day to day support outside of discord. So they create a company channel, and literally they're doing full on support of their product inside of a gamer chat platform. In fact, we're even doing this conversation inside of our business tech playbook, discord channel for Etop technology, our managed service provider. We have a failover discord in case teams falls over, which to be fair, hasn't happened. But at the same time, if your main communication platform falls down or stops working, what do you do to fail back?

Robbz

It never hurts to have a backup plan for your business. In our particular business, we have to have more backup plans than our customers. If our customer has one form of chat, we need to have two, because our customers rely on us for uptime and availability. So we have to ask here's a disaster plan for our customer. What's going to be ours? That's even more robust. So this is just another step we use to make sure we have communication, but to give you a little bit more information on Discord specifically. It started in 2015. That's when it released its first versions. And it came from these gamer generations that had TeamSpeak ventrilo all these other apps where they would want to come and do voice chat to play their video game. This was open free to the public and it didn't have any premium features when it first launched to try to get customers. And this became essentially the biggest form of chat communication and blew up even bigger over COVID. And now it's being used for everybody's content creation. It has very robust security tools to make sure your account's locked down, multifactor authentication stuff. That what we see normal business maturity level tools used and people are much more comfortable. They have changed some of the terms and services. There is a bit more control and businesses are now stepping in because Discord is no longer this gaming chat client. Discord even rebranded themselves as the Internet's form of communication. They essentially want to be up to even a level of a social media.

BJ

Well, it is effectively social media at this point. It's a really good platform. In fact, if you can find the right communities to have conversations in, it can have really strong upsides for your business. So I know that myself, having been in one MSP focused Discord group has led to two different clients and we've hired four different employees from the group, including myself, including including Mr. Robbs. So it's all about kind of placing yourself in areas where you can be found. Now, to be fair, this isn't business to business or inter business communication necessarily, but it's one of the ways I found to stay really connected to my community of other managed service providers. And it's another way for us to have kind of a separate failover login for Etop in case something happens.

Robbz

Now, we put this through the same goal. Number one, can you do it securely? Yes. It has ways of doing multi factor authentication, having every form of login that you would expect from a true business application. Can you export your data? Yes, it allows you to take your data and delete it off of the Discord servers. Is it intended for business? It is not in the past been intended for business and that's why we're a bit more cautious. However, the verbiage does match our business requirements and plenty of other businesses have been on here. It is a solution we are comfortable with. However, we recommend sticking with the ones you paid for, like Teams and Google Hangouts. Google Meet. See, they changed the name.

BJ

A couple of not even I'm not even sure what it's called anymore. But to be fair, Microsoft has done the same thing. I make fun of Google because I don't know what their chat platform is.

Robbz

Called you're not living the g life.

BJ

Oh, well, neither are you.

Robbz

Why you hired me is beyond me. I came with Google certifications, bud. It must have been my charisma.

BJ

This beard, it's definitely the patchy beard. That's why I hired you. Thank you.

Robbz

The patchy beard. Love you too.

BJ

Made me feel better about my beard. Oh wait, that's right.

Robbz

I'll glue more on tomorrow.

BJ

Okay, I appreciate that. Please do. Oh goodness. At the end of the day man, we didn't hire you because of Google search. We hired you because you are awesome.

Robbz

Oh, you take me down just to bring me back up.

BJ

It's right up. Little poke poke.

Robbz

The next things I'd be concerned about is integrations. So we talked about just simple messaging and communication. You can have teams, groups where you can have a department or a membership of your team, talk in an individual chat to collaborate with that team. We've talked about how you can use it for video calls, how you can do different calendar things. But outside integrations. If you have that line of business software that we talked about in a prior podcast episode, that special software and you want it to communicate in chat automatically, you want to have some sort of integrations with that tool in your chat so it can pull information and have more visibility. That's important. So contact the expert of your line of business software or the software you use and see if it works with that. That's another reason why Slack really is popular and they'll pay a little bit more clearly because you saw the price is because they have so many different integrations to real business applications and sometimes Microsoft and Google fall behind compared to that.

BJ

So that is a fair point. Slack does tend to have very good integration capacity, but that's something that Microsoft has come strides on. Three years ago, right towards the beginning of COVID I want to say we started using teams probably between three and a half and four years ago as a company. And it's true, just the platform in and of itself was pretty painful. But we were like, okay, we're a Microsoft shop. We live inside the Microsoft ecosystem. This is what we sell to our clients. We have to dog food everything. So we have to try it, we have to know it, we have to be using it so that way we can so but back then, man, it was really rough. Conference calls were I don't even think they were a thing. I think it was literally just chat and then they started baking in conference calls. And then now you can do like we've been doing full on calling through teams for over two years now where we can literally just we have a dial, like a dial pad inside of teams. We can make all of our calls. I haven't had a desk phone or that's all we use. We have a. Headset. And that's it.

Robbz

The integration feature can really help streamline a lot of communications, especially in those service related businesses you can have where it pops into a channel, for instance, not have someone that's a dispatcher saying, hey, so and so called in who wants to take this next effort. And that's in the chat where someone can grab that or can go back to your platform and grab it. There's many different ways to check it, but always check your integrations and make sure they're secure. And that's other reason why Discord is popping up is because they have open APIs to put in webhooks to have alerts. For instance, anytime we drop the podcast, there's an alert on our Discord that pops up.

BJ

I saw that same webhook during the podcast. It caused me some distraction. I totally was like, OOH, somebody's in the welcome channel.

Robbz

Ding, ding.

BJ

No, it's ding ding ding ding at the very beginning where you were like, hey, look, somebody got a message on my phone. This is me. I'm totally, like, captain distracted over here.

Robbz

We call him a squirrel in the office. It's pretty great.

BJ

What?

Robbz

What?

BJ

Squirrel.

Robbz

Squirrel.

BJ

It's like on up the Labrador. Oh, man. It's a party. Well, but so the nice part is that Teams has all of those aspects now. And one of the things our team is building is a teams bot where we can actually communicate with our ticketing system fully from inside of teams. One of the cool things we built and this is totally off topic, but it's kind of a fun use of it is that Teams bot, we literally can say, hey, summarize Ticket 123456. And it grabs all of the public notes, internal notes, runs it through OpenAI, and then it spits it back as a summarized message with what was done, what was the problem, what was done, and what was the outcome. And so now not having to read 25 ticket notes to see what was going on in the ticket is pretty much like just gold for me because it really shortens the amount of time I need to spend figuring out what's going on.

Robbz

Fun. Fun. Well, anything else you have to add for instant messaging? This is one of our shorter podcasts, but we don't have to have everyone be a lecture.

BJ

That's right. We don't need to talk about it for 2 hours or 45 minutes, as the case may be. Honestly, I don't think there's a whole lot more that we really need to go into. At the end of the day, go with what's comfortable for you. Go with what's going to match your business the best. If you don't don't know what you need, talk to your It person. They want to help. They really do. If you don't have an It person, talk to us. We like helping. But at the end of the day, if you are dealing with a lot of remote workers, remote employees, some kind of instant message internally to your office is going to add a lot of value, I believe.

Robbz

Required. I would put required. So to find us agreed. Business. Excuse me? To find us businesstechplaybook.com. You'll find the bottom of the website or link to Discord or in the show notes. You can also email us [email protected]. That's E-T-O-P-B-J.

BJ

Anytop technology?

Robbz

E-T-O-P I'm spelling out do you know how many times on the phone I'm sorry, what company are you from? That could you spell that literally, the letter E-T-O-P. Come on, now.

BJ

It's the e top etop. And it's technology with a Y. Do you know how many times I've gotten like I can't get your email. It's like E-T-U-P technology, I E. And it's like, do you know? Or technologies. Little E, big T. We'll work on a you should probably take that out and post.

Robbz

No. Leaving it in until next time. No.

Episode Notes

For more episodes got to http://businesstechplaybook.com

Find more on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/william-pote-75a87233

This podcast is provided by the team at Etop Technology: https://etoptechnology.com/

Special thanks to Giga for the intro/outro sounds: https://soundcloud.com/gigamusicofficial