Remote and hybrid work has become the norm and it’s unlikely we’ll ever go back to the way we worked before the Covid-19 pandemic. Even in businesses where colleagues work in the same location, chances are they are collaborating with team members, vendors, or other professionals long-distance. Communication is paramount in this environment, so having the right business communication tools for your needs is the only way to be successful.
There are scores of business communication tools on the market, so finding the ones that meet your needs and the needs of your team can seem overwhelming. This article will give an overview of the different types of internal and external communication tools out there, what they do and how you can go about choosing the right one that fits your business.
Table of Contents:
- Definition of business communication tools
- Best communication tools
- Internal communication tools
- External communication tools
- Best internal communication tool
- Chat tools
- Task and project management
- Video and video conferencing
- Document- and file-sharing tools
- Discussion tools
- Best external communication software
- Customer service or CRM tools
- Customer surveys or customer feedback tools
- How to choose the right business communication tools
- Cost and budget
- Business needs
- How to integrate with existing systems
- Need for braining
What are business communication tools and why do they matter?
Simply put, business communication tools are all the apps and programs you use to share information both within and outside of your organization. They are the tools you rely on to ensure optimal communication between team members and vendors. Before choosing the right tool for your business, it is important to first understand who you are communicating with and what their preferred method of communication is. Then you can assess what additional tools you need by analyzing what each of them offers and how different tools can improve communication within your organization.
It becomes crucial to use appropriate communication tools for both internal interactions and external communication because well-chosen and effective tools boost productivity and engagement. With the right tools, cross-functional communication also becomes more effective as the right message gets to the right person at the right time.
Learn how you can create an internal communication plan that meets your business goals. Read more.
Types of business communication tools
Best internal communication tools
Internal communication tools are the backbone of your communication strategy. There are many options for each type of communication, so do your research to find the solution that best suits your requirements.
- Chat tools
Chat tools enable the flow of communication among team members. They also reduce the need for meetings, while building employee connection and camaraderie. A couple of top-performing chat tools include:
Chanty works with web, Windows, Mac and Android devices and integrates with an array of programs, including Google Drive, Dropbox, and Mailchimp. In 2022, the cost is $3 per user, per month.
Slack is a messaging program that supports asynchronous work and team collaboration. It integrates with many programs, including Office 365 and Google Drive and offers a variety of payment options, from a basic free plan to pro, business, and enterprise subscription levels.
Task and project management
Your task and project management tools will help team members stay on task, keep materials and projects organized, and serve as a headquarters for any and all work materials. It’s a key piece of your business platform, so choose it carefully. A couple of top-performing options include:
Asana is a task management program with both web and mobile apps. It offers a wide range of project management tools, from Kanban boards to planning functionality. In 2022, pricing ranges from free for the basic plan up to $24.99 per user, per month for business use.
ProofHub offers a long list of features, including collaboration, file sharing, document storage, project templates, and many others. It integrates with Box, Dropbox, Google, Microsoft Outlook and FreshBooks. Pricing is a flat fee instead of per-user, costing from $45 per month to $89 per month in 2022, depending on features, and it offers a free trial.
Video and video conferencing
What could be more important in a remote and/or hybrid work environment than the ability to collaborate “together”? Video conferencing software is becoming an essential tool in business communication as they help keep employees engaged. A couple of top-performing video platforms include:
Zoom is a popular video conferencing program that enables remote video meetings, team chat, webinars and other functions. Its basic plan is free and allows meetings that last 40 minutes or less and include up to 100 attendees. Paid versions in 2022 include pro for $149 per year, per user, which offers cloud storage up to 5 GB. There is also a business plan that costs $199 per year, per user for up to 300 attendees, and includes unlimited whiteboards and other features. You can also monitor Zoom performance.
- Google Meet
Part of the Google Suite, Meet (formerly called Hangouts) is a video conferencing platform that offers features like screen sharing, gallery view and breakout rooms for moderators. It has five pricing levels, beginning with a free version that offers a lot of functionality including up to 100 attendees per meeting.
Digital document- and file-sharing tools
Digital document- and file-sharing is important to both the productivity of your team and the security of your documents. Efficiency improves when multiple people can collaborate on a digital document, and cloud storage means eliminating the need to sift through piles of papers. A couple of top-performing options include:
Dropbox is a cloud-based file hosting program that enables team members to share documents, photos, and videos. In 2022, the cost ranges from $11.99 per month for individuals, to $30 per month for advanced users and a custom option for even larger needs. It also offers between 2-5 TB of file storage as well as a free trial.
- Office 365
As part of the Microsoft universe, Office 365 offers a wide range of features from file sharing and cloud collaboration to messaging, video conferencing, and shared calendars. Pricing ranges from $6 per user, per month for the basic plan, to $15 per user, per month for a business premium plan in 2022. Office 365 also offers a free trial.
Best external communication software
External communication tools can help you efficiently meet customers’ needs, from aggregating customer thoughts via surveys to behavior tracking — all are vital to ensuring your customers feel heard.
Customer service or customer relationship management (CRM) tools
A CRM tool stores information about interactions you’ve had with customers or prospects. These tools play an important role in verifying which stage of the pipeline your contacts are in, ensuring your team can take the appropriate next steps. A couple of top-performing CRM programs include:
Salesforce is one of the most popular platforms in this category. It’s especially good for large businesses with complex needs and is customizable to meet customers’ requirements. It offers a free 30-day trial. In 2022, prices start at $25 per user, per month.
Pipedrive is known for its user-friendly interface, making it a good option for a business interested in investing in their first CRM tool. It integrates with apps such as Teams, Slack, and Trello. Costs begin at $14.90 per user, per month for a basic plan, and it offers a 14-day free trial.
Tools that facilitate online discussion have a multitude of external business use cases. They give customers an opportunity to engage with the company, offer ideas for improvement, and interact with other customers. It is a subtle yet powerful marketing and brand management tool. A couple of top-performing options include:
Zendesk is a CRM tool that provides a discussion platform as one of its features. It facilitates content approval moderation, spam management, featured and pinned posts, and social sharing. It offers a free trial, and the 2022 starting price is $49 per user per month.
vBulletin is a tool designed to create and manage online discussion boards. Customers can choose to host the forum themselves or let the company handle hosting, site maintenance, and upgrades. For the vBulletin 5 Connect self-hosted version, the cost starts at $249 and for the cloud-based subscription, prices range from $14.99-59.99 per month.
Customer surveys or customer feedback tools
Customer feedback is an important component of business growth and scalability. These tools make it easier to gather, interpret, and store customer opinions. Customer feedback is instrumental when working to improve your product or processes. A couple of top-performing customer survey tools include:
- Survey Monkey
Survey Monkey enables you to create polls, surveys, or quizzes and collect results via email, social media, chat, or other means. Its reporting function makes it easier to analyze the data you receive. The price ranges from a flat rate of $99 per month for the standard plan, to $75 per user, per month for the premiere plan, as of 2022.
QuestionPro is an online survey tool that offers a variety of features and tools, from multiple question types to personalized branding and analytics that can help you glean insights from your results. A basic version with core functions is free and an advanced version costs $99 per month, as of 2022.
External communication tools enable your team to gain insights about the way your company does business. That information can then be used to inform the decisions you make to drive business improvements.
How do you choose the right business communication tool?
There are a lot of communication tools on the market, so you’ll need a strategy to evaluate which tools will best meet your needs. First, identify the types of messages you want to communicate, then confirm the recipients of these messages. Doing this will help to make your goals clear and make it easier to build an action plan to achieve them.
Here are some other things to think about:
- Cost and budget: While many tools have free or trial versions, most tools have a price tag for business use. Many tools offer a variety of features and could help cut costs by reducing the number of products you need to buy. Having a budget in mind helps to narrow down your choices and ensure you’re only considering viable options.
- Business needs: Do you rely much more heavily on video conferencing than intra-team chat? Are customer survey results critical to your future planning? Decide what you need most and focus on the tools that provide those things to avoid getting lost in an ocean of options.
- Integration with existing systems: Look for tools that can integrate with the systems you already use to cut down on unnecessary changeovers and extensive training for your team.
- Need for training/onboarding: Your team will have to learn to use any new tool you introduce, so keep their abilities in mind when you’re deciding what to implement. If they’re on board and enthusiastic, they’ll pick it up faster and will get the most from the new tool.
- Security: Digital security has never been more important and online threats continue to grow. Think about how your new tools will be used and consider the security features they include.
As with any major decision, you have to start with a full inventory of what you’re already doing, what you want to be doing, and how you want to get there. From there, it’s all about researching available options and gauging what will work best for you.
Improve business communication with Zight (formerly CloudApp)
Finding the right communication tools for your needs will improve your team’s efficiency and create growth for your company. It is critical to select business communication tools that integrate well with your current tech stack. You need software that not only fulfills your current needs but can also scale with your business.
Zight (formerly CloudApp) helps organizations mitigate inefficient communication both internally and externally with audio and visual context delivered asynchronously through our video and screen recording platform. Because of integrations with tools like Atlassian JIRA, Slack, Trello, and Zendesk, Zight (formerly CloudApp) allows for faster collaboration with more context and clarity through instantly shareable videos, GIFs, and screenshots. Some of our most popular use cases include customer support, product development, sales, and engineering.
Learn how Zight (formerly CloudApp)’s team-based video and asynchronous communication features can help your team streamline communication. Schedule a demo today!
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