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7 Tips for Choosing the Best Communication Tools for Your Business

There are a dizzying array of communication tools aimed at making small to medium-sized business (SMBs) more efficient. The upside? Now, more than ever, you can have the best-in-class technologies to help you compete with the big boys, but at a small-boy price.

The challenge? How to know which tools are the best for your specific application.

Our partners at RingCentral have helped us assemble this list that you can use to separate the contenders from the pretenders. Let’s get started!

1. Look for an all-in-one solution

There are some powerful, multifunctional options on the list below, and they’re worth a second look. Why? Having all of your communication needs in one place—file sharing, team messaging, and video chats, for example—cuts down on toggling between different apps.

According to recent research, employees jump between different applications over 1,000 times a day. This kind of inefficiency might seem small at first, but it adds up to time lost, tasks missed, and mistakes made.

In short: the more features, the better.

2. Find tools the whole team will love

Chances are good that your team members range in age and tech savviness. When shopping for your new communication tool, consider everyone’s abilities. Clean, simple platforms that offer truly intuitive functionality can go a long way toward enthusiastic adoption by employees of all abilities.

A gentler learning curve is good for your team and your business. It means less time spent on training and frustrations, and more time spent doing the work that matters. It might be a good idea to involve your less tech-happy team members in the test drives to ensure you find a product that makes their lives easier, not more stressful.

3. Security is key

Ever heard of “Zoombombing”? Remote teams of all sizes have learned the importance of a secure connection this year. This goes double if your business handles sensitive information: think finance, education, healthcare, insurance, and high tech.

If confidentiality is important to your team and customers, find out how many layers of security are offered by the communication tools you research.

4. Think (and ask) about scalability

We wager your goal is growth. More customers means more tasks for your team, and maybe even the need to expand your ranks. This could mean growing pains for your communication tool of choice if you don’t think far enough into the future as you shop.

It’s a good idea to find a communication tool that will grow with you, instead of capping out. That way you can carry the platform into the next phases of your business for greater continuity, with no need to retrain everyone on a new tool as you scale up.

5. Look for great customer support

Every once in a while, you may run into a technological problem that even your most top-notch tech guys can’t solve. To cover for that, it’s best to look for an internal communication tool that offers a fantastic level of customer support to help you out during these times. This might be through social media, phone support, or email.
For example, if you’re on an out-of-office-hours call with a client but experience a technical issue, you might not be able to get help if your communication tool only provides 9-to-5 customer support.

6. Does it have a range of features to suit your needs?

As you read this guide on team communication tools, you’ll see that not every tool offers an abundance of features. Some are more specialized depending on your industry and business needs. For instance, Jira is designed for software teams, whereas Trello is mostly used by creative teams. Some businesses simply don’t have the need for many features. However, it can’t hurt to have them there.

Perhaps you’ve never considered the idea of having an HD video calling tool that can also help you manage tasks and offer business analytics.

Analyze your business’s needs, and think about whether you’d benefit from additional features—such as Outlook or Gmail email integration—that you haven’t tried yet.

7. Ensure it’s cost-effective

Whether you’re a startup or a growing SMB (small to medium-sized business), you need to choose a cost-effective communication tool that will fit within your budget. Consider whether the features available are worth the price being asked. Does it offer multiple forms of communication? Or is it just focused on team messaging or phone calls? Additionally, look at whether the tool offers a range of upgrade options as you grow and expand.