Instant Messaging and Chat Software – an introduction
Instant Messaging and Chat Software is used by companies to facilitate communication between staff members located in different places and offices, and, in some cases, with clients and partners. The most enabled solutions provide useful features such as video calling, web conferencing and VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol).
|A Nice Chat||–||Visit website|
|Output Messenger||Free||Visit website|
|Sky History||Free||Visit website|
The 10 most popular Instant Messaging and Chat Software solutions
1. Nice Chat is an e-commerce orientated chat solution with features including chat, visitor tracking, analytics, team management and third party integrations. It is a marketing tool fully integrated with online stores, to track down traffic channels and their effectiveness.
The solution gathers all needed data of store visitors in real-time. Sales team members just need to monitor the client’s behaviour at the site, analyse traffic sources and browse data to be able to select appropriate options for guaranteeing successful deals.
Users are able to create sales scenarios and, with Nice Chat, automate them. Chat invitation, quick reply templates, identification of needs forms, product demonstrations and other features help increase sales and improve the efficiency of processes.
The solution offers integration with a number of third-party CRM (Customer Relationship Management) and marketing solutions via an API.
2. Output Messenger is an on premise and cloud-based LAN (Local Area Network) messenger and office chat solution that allows users to communicate with colleagues and team managers through one-to-one chat.
Group chat features allow users to message and transfer files to multiple users. Output Messenger can archive all messages and conversations in a chat room, or users can create chat rooms that do not store any data to keep conversations confidential.
The solution allows users to make videoconferencing calls and collaborate with teammates in real time from different locations. The solution is accessible on mobile devices and web browsers. Users can integrate with third-party applications using standard APIs or plug-ins. Other features include active directory support, a spell checker tool and sticky notes.
3. PanTerra CloudUC is a hosted PBX (Private Branch Exchange) solution which gives users the ability to access all the most popular features of a modern communication system. The system can utilise almost any VoIP phone, allows for configuration of follow me features to add mobile users, and boasts unlimited auto attendants and many other features.
PanTerra offers a full solution contact center utilising the CloudUC platform. This is designed for businesses with a high number of incoming calls requiring immediate, effective engagement. Routing is simplified for contact center agents as features like “Push Customer to Agent” are available to instantly transfer a call in the user interface. There is also an automatic call back solution when customers call at peak times and do not want to wait on hold.
4. SkyHistory enables users to store and manage Skype messaging, filter chats and browse through saved conversations chronologically.
SkyHistory is a Skype account manager which categorises all chats according to data and time. It includes a built-in calendar which lines up all the chats in chronological order.
Key messages can be bookmarked to get immediate access to important texts, although this feature is only available with the paid version of the software. Another paid feature is a search bar to find keywords of crucial Skype chats when the date of the actual conversation has been forgotten.
5. Slack is a team-based team integration and project collaboration tool designed to facilitate communication across organisations. The solution serves various industries like media, research, retail, financial services and transport.
Public channels facilitate organisation-wide communication, whilst private channels enable interaction within smaller teams or groups. There are also direct channels for team members to talk directly to each other.
Slack incorporates feeds from social media and combines them with ongoing conversations in various channels. Users drag-and-drop to share files such as PDFs, images, documents and spreadsheets. The program also allows users to customise their notifications and reduce their scope, so as to reduce unnecessary or irrelevant communication.
There are native apps available for iOS and Android.
6. Skype is a powerful communication service, offering not only free group video calling, but also calling to standard phones, rich text chatting, and live translation. Key features include group and free one-to-one video calling, good sound and image quality, real-time translation, inbound phone numbers, low rate calls to mobiles and landlines, screen sharing, and messaging with photo and video sharing.
Video calling is the essence of what Skype offers. The service has offered good voice and video quality for many years, using proprietary code for increased clarity. As with any IP audio and video communication system though, call quality depends on both parties’ Internet connection speeds, so there are occasional frame drops or voice glitches.
Users can set up a Skye Number which is similar to a regular phone number, and people can call it from a mobile or landline.
Skype can also now be used as a messaging app. Users can send photos, files and videos and engage in group messaging. Most recently, the system has added Mojis, which are similar to Facebook Messenger and Viber’s Stickers.
Skype’s most technologically advanced feature is its Translate capability, which started as a text chat component but now allows real-time spoken interpretations in nine languages, including Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Spanish, and Portuguese.
7. Jabber is a unified communications program that helps individual users work together more productively, and efficiently as a team. It combines IP telephony, visual voicemail, voice, web conferencing, desktop sharing, contact history and integrated directories, with real-time availability and presence information, plus easy, one-click communication with individuals and groups.
As an IP telephony solution, Jabber operates as a softphone with integrated voice and video using session control, call management and failover protocols to provide call facilities for up to 80,000 users. It also provides high definition video for point-to-point and conference calls, with high fidelity wideband audio.
Group chat and audio conferencing are available at the click of a button, without the need to schedule or invite, and Jabber delivers IM (Instant Messaging) via the advanced XMPP protocol, providing flexible options for personal and group chat, plus chat room platforms. Chat history is stored so conversations can be reviewed later.
WebEx conferencing can be launched directly from Jabber, with full support for desktop, presentation and file sharing, as well as video, audio and IM.
Jabber is available as an application for Windows, Android and iOS, so there is equal distribution of features between desktop and mobile devices.
8. Zoho Cliq is a cloud-based team communication and collaboration software which includes team chat, audio and video calls, file sharing and more. The software is suitable for teams and companies of all sizes, and offers features designed to assist Marketing, Software and IT teams.
With Cliq, users can create private and team conversation channels for managing multiple topics, discussions and projects without long email threads. Vendors and customers can be invited to join channels, and users can remove or delete channels when discussions are completed. Users can also exchange private messages outside of team channels. Drag-and-drop file upload allows users to share documents, images and more with teammates. Complete chat histories can be search, with unlimited storage of messages and files.
Zoho Cliq also supports audio and video calling, including video conferencing for up to 100 participants. Users can switch between video calls and team chats within the same window, and the software limits live audio to two simultaneous speakers to reduce confusion. The call host is given full control over which participants are able to speak, and participants can request to speak with a single click. The solution integrates with a range of third-party applications, such as Dropbox, MailChimp, and Google Drive.
9. Fuze is an online meeting solution that works across a range of devices and integrates with traditional video conferencing systems. Users receive audio conferencing, video conferencing, screen-sharing and web conferencing functionality on tablets, smartphones, desktops, and laptops.
Users who wish to equip meeting rooms with HD videoconferencing systems can opt for Fuze for Rooms. The Fuze Telepresence Connect service helps businesses to ensure interoperability with room-based videoconferencing systems from leading hardware vendors.
Fuze’s applications are designed to dynamically optimise voice, video and content transmission across a range of devices and network conditions. For example, users receive re-join notifications after network outages and unmute notifications when the system senses them talking.
Fuze also offers features such as collaborative annotation of content, special modes for conferencing while driving, content sharing from mobile devices, and integration with cloud-based file hosting services, such as Dropbox and Box.
10. Zoho Chat is a web-based solution which offers instant messaging (IM) and group chat, enabling clients to chat with support representatives live so they can resolve their issues immediately. Users can embed a shout box in their blog or website for visitors to interact amongst themselves, and they can also communicate live with blog/website visitors, and get their instant feedback.
Contacts can be grouped based on different criteria, and Yahoo, Google, MSN and other IM systems can be accessed all in one place. The program allows conference chat with contacts from multiple IM networks.
Additionally, users can add events and make appointments in the calendar by typing out simple chat messages, read their latest emails and create new ones within the system, and get notification when a new email arrives. Desktop screen sharing is also enabled.
Choosing Instant Message and Chat Software
As there are a multitude of Instant Message and Chat Software solutions available on the market, potential users are spoiled for choice. Therefore, it is recommended that having defined needs and requirements, potential customers arrange for free trials and product demos to test features and benefits of applications under consideration, before making any firm decisions.
Types of Instant Message and Chat Software
Instant Message and Chat Software is primarily distinguished by the type of Instant Message (IM) functionality offered.
Enterprise IM clients – designed for companies, their employees and clients;
Mobile IM clients – aimed at users who want to chat on the move;
Multi-protocol IMs – meant for users who have more than one IM account;
Portable IM clients – for users who cannot download IM software, or prefer not to do so;
Single-protocol IMs – primarily for beginners to instant messaging and general IM users;
Web messengers – intended for public computer users, such as those located at a library or internet café.
Instant Messaging and Chat Software is used by companies to facilitate communication between staff members located in different places and offices, and, in some cases, with clients and partners. It can also be used by individuals in the case of applications like Skype and Google Hangouts. Such programs vary between the free and simple to use, to multi-functionality communication suites. However, whatever the needs and requirements of individuals, teams or organisations, there is bound to be a solution to meet them.