News Letter [Home]
February, 2015

Office Instant Messenger versus the Phone A Channel Comparison

Communication channel preferences across organizations depend largely on corporate culture, workplace tradition and individual experiences. While many organizations allow employees to choose their preferred mode and channel of communication as they communicate across the enterprise, others establish strict guidelines with respect to which channel should be used and which should be avoided for good or bad measure. In this report, we explore some of the very obvious and not so obvious reasons why office instant messengers, or business messengers as they are also referred to, can eventually emerge as the winning channel within your organization when it is time to communicate with your colleagues. But first a disclaimer.

Explore Internal and External Communication Channels

While each organization follows two distinct communication paths-- internal and external-- they do not have to be either identical or exclusive. When communicating with your customers as a distinct element of your external communication strategy, your organization can use a full range of channels simultaneously-- phone, live chat, email, self service and SMS texting to serve your customer communities and generate new business opportunities. On the other hand, your organization can choose to adopt only one or two channels for internal use such as instant messenger and phone or instant messenger or email with one receiving official endorsement across the board. If you are ever at a point where you are asked to choose between an office instant messenger and phone by way of preference while both co-exist, instant messaging has demonstrated several subtle advantages when compared to phone-based internal communication:

Achieve near 100% Closure Rates

Office instant messengers use text-based live chat as the primary means of communication. Since this communication happens in real time, your colleagues are sure to receive your communication as long as they are either on the phone or on a desktop and signed into their messenger accounts. An office policy which requires that all employees remain logged into their messenger accounts while at work can ensure near 100% closure rate. Phone, on the other hand, can involve hold time while your colleague is on the phone talking to someone else, voice mail, and even a situation involving a no-reply. According to , a communication strategist and consultant with Developer Town, “some ignore their desk phone but answer their cell phone.” Many professionals find phone conversations to be intrusive and routinely let all their incoming calls go to voice mail directly without exception. This allows them to screen phone calls while at the same time causing delays in issue resolution from the caller’s perspective.

Leverage the Technology Advantage

Owing to the fact that messenger technology is relatively recent as opposed to phone technology, it brings to the table a few distinct advantages when compared with other channels. For instance, IM communication is much more secure than phone conversations since 256 bit SSL encryption is generally the rule and not the exception with office messengers. Moreover, while internal phone communication within an office building can be free due to the presence of a PBX and intercom, long distance phone bills can add up especially if there are foreign destinations involved. Office messengers do not involve any direct costs since they use the Internet for ongoing text chat communication. Office messengers also enable employees to send and receive sticky notes, reminders, alerts, and communicate to the maximum by combining text messages with emoticons. You also have the choice to communicate either one on one or in a group, hold conferences entirely based on IM, and send messages to colleagues even if they are not signed in.

Generate a Paper Trail

Several technology-based solutions exist that permit organizations to record all their phone conversations, both internal and external. However, these solutions are cumbersome, expensive, and do not generate printed transcripts automatically. Office Instant messengers, on the other hand, generate transcripts much like live chat transcripts which you can use to review your conversation, authenticate decisions, and archive for future use. Since most major office instant messengers permit file transfer, you can even send and receive chat transcripts using the file transfer feature.

Key Takeaways

Communication channels within organizations have co-existed for years. As new channels emerge, paradigm shifts, some seismic in nature, are bound to occur. It is a good idea, therefore, to define your company’s internal communication strategy after having carefully explored the various channels available in the broader context of your organization’s needs and the convenience of your employees whose inputs can prove to be valuable and constructive.