- Chat tools can enhance workplace communication and collaboration, minimizing costly miscommunications and mistakes.
- Chat apps can reduce the need for meetings, build employee engagement and improve task management.
- Many chat tools have accompanying mobile apps to allow professionals to stay in touch while on the go.
- This article is for small business owners and professionals looking to improve in-house and remote communication.
In the age of remote work, effective chat tools can quickly become the backbone of your business, simplifying communication, collaboration and task management. And chat platforms aren’t just for talking; today’s robust chat solutions offer file-sharing capabilities, audio and video calls, project management, and much more.
We’ll highlight 14 chat tools businesses should consider that will eliminate unnecessary meetings, keep remote workers engaged and foster teamwork for in-house and remote teams alike.
What are the top chat tools for small businesses?
Many different chat apps exist with various benefits and drawbacks. When choosing the best tool for your business, consider your needs and budget. Here are 14 chat tools to consider.
Slack is a robust, comprehensive chat tool for small businesses. In addition to one-on-one and group chat, Slack comes with individual and team audio calls and video conferencing.
Slack makes collaboration easier than most chat tools. Users can organize multiple projects, teams and other items using hashtags, and share files by dragging and dropping them into the platform or via Google Drive, Dropbox and other secure file-sharing services.
All files and chats are synced, archived and searchable for future reference. You can even edit on other people’s screens.
Additionally, Slack offers a variety of third-party integrations, including Google Docs, Sheets and Slides for sharing and viewing files during conversations and calls.
Slack has a free version for an unlimited number of users, while paid premium versions start at $8 per user per month.
Slack is also one of the top collaboration tools for small businesses. Its paid version includes screen sharing, custom user groups, two-factor authentication, and unlimited apps and integrations.
Chatwork is a business social networking tool. If you’re working with several different clients and teams across the globe, Chatwork allows you to connect with them in private and public group chats. It also offers task management software, video chat capabilities and contact management software.
Chatwork’s personal version costs $4 per user per month, while a more robust business version is $20 per 10 users.
3. Microsoft Teams
Microsoft Teams is a SaaS (software as a service) offering that ties directly to the productivity giant’s Office 365 subscription. It creates a chat-based workspace focused on real-time collaboration, including chat, meetings, notes, Office, Planner, Power BI, extensions and apps.
Teams looks a bit like Slack and functions similarly, with threaded persistent chats that can be open or private. Teams integrates with Microsoft’s Skype video service, and you can invite guests to join chats.
Teams offers various pricing options, ranging from free to $12.50 per user per month. If you’re a Microsoft-focused business, Teams may be the way to go.
4. CA Flowdock
Flowdock is a chat and inbox platform that lets teams collaborate and communicate in an easily accessible central location. It offers one-on-one private chat with individual team members, group chat and threaded discussions. Its Team Inbox feature stores and organizes emails and messages related to project management, customer support and other sources.
Flowdock is accessible anytime, anywhere via the web, Windows and macOS apps, and iOS and Android mobile apps. Push notifications are available across platforms and devices so that no one misses an important chat request, email or message. Other features include @ mentions to get a specific user’s attention, hashtags and chat histories with searchable transcripts.
Flowdock charges $3 per user per month and offers a free trial period.
Chanty’s claim to fame is providing a fleet of valuable business communication features and combining them with an easy-to-understand interface. This tool has a high-quality messaging system that allows you to easily organize workplace discussions according to context. Additionally, Chanty includes a handy video conferencing feature for on-the-go chatting with the entire team.
Chanty’s free tier includes up to 10 members, while its Business package is $3 per user per month.
6. Workplace from Meta
Formerly called Facebook Workplace, Workplace from Meta is a business communication platform that uses a company’s intranet to provide chat, video and group collaboration tools. With the familiar Facebook interface, Workplace is easy to use on computers and mobile devices.
Workplace also integrates with existing business tools, including Google Drive, Office 365, DocuSign and Azure AD. Its core tier costs $4 per user per month, with add-ons available. You can also try it free for a month.
Facebook business tools for your marketing strategy include Facebook Business Pages, Facebook Ads, Messenger Ads and boosted posts.
7. Amazon Chime
Amazon’s free Chime Basic features include one-to-one voice calling, screen sharing and access to its chat feature with 30 days of history for messages. Chime also auto-calls all participants when a meeting starts, eliminating the need to enter meeting IDs and passwords, and provides a visual roster of everyone on the call. It also lets everyone see who’s talking; you can mute a participant if there’s loud background noise on their line.
Chime’s higher-tier Pro plan offers some very helpful user management business tools. In addition to all the Basic plan’s features, Pro offers screen-sharing capabilities, custom meeting URLs, and the ability to schedule and host meetings for up to 250 attendees. Users can also lock and record meetings. Pro costs $3 per user per day, with a maximum of $15 per user per month.
Twist is a chat tool from Todoist, the popular to-do list application. It differs from other chat apps by making all chats and communication on the app threads. It has distinct group rooms, but if you want to comment, you have to either start a new thread or comment on an existing one.
Twist’s free tier gives you access to a month’s worth of comments and messages, while the Unlimited tier ($6 per user per month) offers unlimited access, members, integrations and guests.
Flock is a channel-based chat application. You can separate conversations into different channels for ease of organization and uncluttered project planning. Flock is a good solution for businesses seeking to maintain transparency with workers while communicating more efficiently.
Flock is free for teams with up to 20 members; a more full-featured Pro version costs $4.50 per user per month.
Discord is a free voice chat app for businesses. Instead of communicating by typing in a chat room, forum or thread, Discord allows workers to communicate via voice. It has always-on voice channels so you can quickly talk with your team. It features standard chat windows for basic communication.
11. Webex by Cisco
Webex (formerly Webex Teams) is Cisco’s full-fledged chat solution for small businesses. It provides a chat tool, meeting software, a whiteboard collaboration tool and an organized calendar app. The chat app can use images dynamically, and the whiteboard application is ideal for creative collaboration.
Webex pricing ranges from free to $25 per user per month, depending on a business’s needs.
12. Zoho Cliq
Zoho Cliq provides much of the same power as other chat apps, but with a different interface. Instead of being limited to one chat at a time, Zoho Cliq allows you to open and view several windows and rooms simultaneously. This can allow for more streamlined communication across multiple teams.
Zoho Cliq has a free version with limited features and an Unlimited version starting at $2.70 per user per month for up to 500 users.
To learn about some of Zoho’s other business tools, read our review of Zoho Assist (its remote PC access tool), our Zoho CRM review.
Ryver integrates basic chat functionality with task management. Instead of losing ideas to chat channels, Ryver offers unlimited chat searching so you can quickly look back at past messages. The company boasts that it’s “two apps in one” by functioning as both a Slack and Trello alternative.
Ryver prices start at $69 per month for 12 users.
If you’re running a technology company or larger business, you may want to consider Mattermost. This chat tool is fully customizable to your company’s needs and can even be run on your own servers. It offers basic chat functionality and communication features, but you have the ability to toggle elements to meet your needs.
Mattermost has a free tier and a Professional tier for $10 per user per month.
Tip: If your team needs a more robust video conferencing solution, check out our reviews of the best video conferencing services to find one that suits your needs and budget.
What are chat apps?
Chat apps are dynamic tools that allow workers to engage with one another, share meaningful ideas, work through company problems and better plan for your business’s future. They often offer task management features, chat features, video calling services, and other communication and productivity management tools.
Why are chat apps beneficial?
Chat apps are more efficient than communicating via email. Several workers can communicate at once in real time, allowing for efficient information-sharing.
These are some other advantages of chat tools:
- Fewer needless meetings: Unnecessary meetings are workplace distractions that kill productivity. A chat app can reduce needless gatherings by providing a convenient way to deliver updates.
- Mobile access: Many chat programs have mobile apps that let users access the platform from their smartphones. This feature allows employees to stay up to date while they’re on the go.
- Speedy communication: Chat apps include helpful notification systems while setting an expectation for shorter messages. Communicating with your colleagues can be quick and easy.
- Employee engagement: While workplace emails can deliver important company updates, they can also be dry and challenging to read. The brevity of chat app messaging makes for easier, shorter communication, helping keep employees attentive.
- Better task management: Many chat apps allow employees to set up to-do lists and track the progress of their latest projects. This work-management ability makes it easier to pursue goals.
Clear communication is key
Minor misunderstandings can often cause more extensive problems within a company. While email and phone calls can clear things up, they can be too time-consuming for smaller updates.
Chat apps give you a platform for brief-but-informative communication. This way, you keep everyone engaged with the company and in touch with the whole team.
Matt D’Angelo and Anna Attkisson contributed to the writing and reporting in this article.