The Best Instant Messaging Apps for Business (internal and external)

Communication
September 13, 2021

As consumers, we have set the bar high for companies. Or to be more direct: we’ve become a little spoiled.

We’ll browse the internet laying flat on the couch, looking for the best products for the best prices and with the best possible customer service. And while that last aspect wasn’t a deal-breaker for most of us up until recently β€” it has become one in record speed.

We expect companies to welcome us with open arms around the clock and reply to our complex and long-winded questions within minutes. Besides that, we also want to be able to reach them on other channels than just email or phone. I’m talking WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Instagram DMs, Telegram, and more. And by this time next year, we can probably add another app or two to that list.

For companies, this means they need to be on top of all the latest developments. And if that wasn’t enough, they’re also faced with instant messaging apps for internal use. CC email threads are out, modern companies are on Slack, Teams, or Trengo now.

That’s a lot of developments to keep up with. As if running a business wasn’t hard enough already.

If you’re having trouble keeping up with all the new instant messaging software on the block, I’ve got you covered. In this blog, I’ll list all the relevant instant messaging apps that are currently available. Make sure to save it in your bookmarks, because I’ll add new channels whenever they pop up.

Topics:

  • What is instant messaging software?
  • How are instant messaging apps used by businesses?
  • 11 best business messaging apps for external communication
  • 4 best business messaging apps for internal communication
  • Business messaging software for all your external communication

What is instant messaging software?

Instant messaging software is used to digitally communicate with friends, family, customers, and colleagues. Instant means the conversation takes place in real-time. I know I’m being captain obvious here, but this is a crucial difference from email, on which it’s accepted that you may receive an answer a couple of days later.

How are instant messaging apps used by businesses?

Instant messaging apps can be used in two different instances: externally and internally. Externally meaning conversations with customers. A good example of this is WhatsApp. Internally meaning with your colleagues. Companies often use Slack for this.

11 best business messaging apps for external communication

There are a lot of different instant messaging apps that are used to keep in touch with customers. Currently, WhatsApp is the biggest one. But depending on where you’re located, there are a couple of big ones you may have never even heard of before. Did you know about Viber, for instance? Or Line? And what about WeChat?

Even though the internet is bringing the world closer together, we can still spot many differences locally. WhatsApp may be the biggest messaging app, but it isn’t in huge markets like the USA, France, and China.

Overview of the most-used instant messaging apps per country.

Below, we’ll discuss 14 messaging apps that you should know about if you run a business.

1. WhatsApp

WhatsApp is a free messaging application for the modern smartphone. Users can chat, send media like photos and videos, record voice and video memos, and send their GPS location or documents to each other. The app has more than 2 billion users around the globe in 180 different countries. 65 billion messages are sent every day via WhatsApp.

Businesses that want to use WhatsApp to communicate with customers have to use WhatsApp Business. This application is already being used by more than 5 million companies worldwide.

The application is tailor-made for smaller companies. That’s why it can only be accessed by one person at the same time, making it unsuitable for larger teams. If you want to manage WhatsApp Business with a team, you can only do so by using the WhatsApp Business API.

2. Facebook Messenger

Facebook Messenger is a chat app that is connected to the social network Facebook. It allows you to send text, video, and voice messages to other users on the platform. The instant messaging app has over 1.3 billion users worldwide, making it the second biggest messaging app behind WhatsApp.

In some countries, Facebook Messenger is just the chat you use when you’re on Facebook. But in a lot of places, Messenger has grown into much more than that. In the United States and France, for instance, Facebook Messenger is by far the most popular messaging app.

In recent years, companies have also started to add Facebook Messenger as a chat on their website. It has multiple advantages over a regular live chat. The most important one is that you can keep talking to customers even after they leave your website. Also, you immediately get a complete profile of your customer when they contact you.

3. Instagram Messaging

It’s funny how fast the world moves. Not too long ago, Instagram was an app where you would simply post pretty pictures and add fancy filters.

Now, it’s a place where many businesses thrive by showcasing products and connecting with their following. We wouldn’t have accepted those companies on Instagram a couple of years back, but now, we almost don’t take them seriously if they don’t have an account.

Instagram Messaging (or Instagram DMs) is a great communication channel for businesses. For many e-commerce businesses, their page serves as a product page. When a customer wants to order something, they simply send a DM. This way, the customers don’t even have to visit the company website anymore.

With the new Instagram Messaging API, companies can finally also manage direct messages from their customers on a platform. This enables them to work together on answering messages professionally.

4. WeChat

The following instant messaging app is mostly used in one country. Yet it has every right to be high on this list. Why? Because that country happens to be China.

WeChat is by far the biggest instant messaging app in China with over a billion active users. It’s an app that allows you to do many different things. Besides sending chat messages, this includes requesting government documents (yes, really), paying for products, and much more.

As with WhatsApp, you can only use WeChat on one device at the same time. This makes it difficult to manage with a team. If you have a lot of customers in China, you’ll need to use a customer service platform to manage it efficiently. You can learn how to manage WeChat on multiple devices here.

5. Telegram

One aspect of communication is slowly but surely becoming essential for modern consumers: privacy. That’s why Telegram, an instant messaging app built to enable 100% privacy in online chats, is gaining popularity so fast.

Users of Telegram can send encrypted and self-destroying messages, videos, photos, stickers, and files.

Offering safe solutions for your customers on the internet is already important, but we expect it’s going to play an even bigger role in the near future. That’s why there are also more and more businesses using Telegram for Business. Read our ultimate guide on getting started here.

6. Google’s Business Messages

One of the newest kids on the block is Google’s Business Messages. It’s not very well-known yet, but with Google being, well, Google, we see big potential here.

So how does it work? GBM enables consumers to reach out to a business right within Google. Whether that’s after searching for your company via Google Search or coming across your company in Google Maps.

An example of Google's Business Messages used by Trengo.

Especially chatting via Maps is powerful. Imagine you’re looking to get a haircut and there are multiple barbers in your neighborhood. Most of them require you to visit their website, but one of them allows you to send a chat and make an appointment right away. There’s a clear advantage there, right?

7. Viber

Viber is primarily a VoIP solution, made for phone calls. However, you can also use the app to send chats, photos, videos, and audio messages.

With their end-to-end encryption, the app is privacy-friendly as well. Just as with Telegram, you can also send ‘self-destructing messages’. These messages vanish from existence after a set period of time.

The app may not be very well-known in Western Europe or America. That’s because the Viber messenger is mostly popular in eastern Europe, Russia, the Middle East, and a couple of Asian markets.

8. Line

Back in 2011, Line started as a response to a disaster. An earthquake and tsunami severely damaged the Japanese telecommunication infrastructure. Employees at NHN, therefore, had to communicate via the internet.

Within 18 months, they accumulated a user base of more than 100 million users. Most of their current users are based in Asia, with the top markets being Japan, Taiwan, Thailand, and Indonesia.

9. Kik

Kik was founded in 2009 by a group of Canadian students. Back then, it wasn’t yet possible to start a chat between Blackberry, iPhone, and Android devices. And they were determined to change that.

In 2019, they decided to shut down Kik, with 100 employees laid off. However, this decision was later reversed, when they sold the company to MediaLab.

Currently, Kik has a small market share, but still more than 7 million users in the United States alone.

10. Apple Business Chat

Business Chat by Apple is iMessage for companies. Besides the usual features, this allows your customers to schedule appointments and even make purchases β€” without having to visit your website. It all happens within the messenger.

It works similarly to Google’s Business Messages. If you’re looking for a business in Maps, Safari, or Search, you can send a text message straight from there.

11. KakaoTalk

KakaoTalk is the last messaging app you can use to communicate with customers on this list. Just as most of the options above, you can use it to have chat conversations, and send images, videos, and voice notes.

Most of KakaoTalk’s users are from South Korea. About 93% of the South Korean population has the app installed on their smartphone. The app is being used in 130 other countries and is available in 15 languages.

Just like Line, the instant messaging app saw a strong surge in users when an earthquake hit Japan in 2011. It helped a lot of families find contact with family members when the wired networks were disabled.

4 best business messaging apps for internal communication

Besides using messaging apps to talk to customers, companies are also using them to keep in contact with colleagues. Below, we’ll discuss the best instant messaging apps for internal communication.

1. Trengo Team Chat

Yes, we put our own platform first. I mean, it’s our article, right?

With Trengo, you get the best of both worlds: internal and external communication in one tool.

You can add all your customer communication channels to the inbox, where you can manage all those conversations in one view. If you need to talk to a colleague, you can switch to Team Chat with one click.

With Trengo’s Team Chat, you can send text, audio, and visual messages. It also comes with a video calling feature, which terminates the need to switch to Zoom or Google Meets for meetings.

2. Slack

Slack is one of the most popular chat solutions on the market right now. You can use it to send text, audio, and visual messages. It has a video calling feature as well.

What makes Slack different from its competitors, is that you can also start a channel with other companies. This allows you to bring internal and external communication together. This could be handy when your company has a long-term collaboration with an agency that requires regular communication.

3. Microsoft Teams

Back in 2016, Microsoft contemplated buying Slack. The two companies were already in talks, when Bill Gates & co suddenly decided to change course. Instead of purchasing an existing tool, they decided to make their own version: Microsoft Teams.

With Microsoft Teams, your team can meet, chat, call, and work together in one tool. A nice plus for Microsoft Teams is that it integrates with all of Microsoft’s other products. Slack considers this to be such an unfair competitive advantage, that they filed an official competition complaint last year.

4. Troop Messenger

Another lesser-known messenger is Troop Messenger. You can chat, call, meet, send audio messages, share documents, and more with this tool.

A feature that separates Troop from the pack has to do with privacy. This feature is called burnout. When activated, your messages will ‘burn out’ β€” or self-destruct rather β€” after a predetermined amount of time has passed. This is similar to what Telegram offers in their app.

Business messaging software for all your external communication

Whoop, you made it to the end of the list! I hope it was informative and helpful. If you’re planning on using multiple instant messaging apps to talk to customers, I have one last tip for you.

With Trengo, our customer service platform, you can manage all your messaging apps in one view. This enables your team to give the fast and high-quality service your customers require but in an efficient way.

Setting up your communication channels within our platform only takes about ten minutes, and you can try it out for free for 14 days.

Try Trengo for free!πŸš€

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