29/05/2024

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13 Essential Communication Platforms for Every Business Need

13 Essential Communication Platforms for Every Business Need

The demand for cloud communication platforms is at an all-time high. With thousands of messaging apps out there, it can be tough to pick the right one.

A staggering 83% of companies lost a customer, missed a major deadline, or terminated an employee due to a communication issue.

Communication is essential to every business. Fast-growing companies can’t afford to use disjointed communication platforms. Lost sales, drained employee engagement, and customer complaints are byproducts of ineffective workflows; and poor communication platforms sit atop.

To help you bypass common communication issues, we’ll break down the five types of communication platforms. You’ll also get a rundown of the top communication tools to make your workflows effective and tips to help you select the one that best fits your work environment.

What Is a Communication Platform?

A communication platform is a software service that facilitates external and internal messaging within the workplace. It uses multiple channels, including phone, video conferencing, task management, and team messaging.

Communication platforms also offer project management, file sharing, and customer communication functionalities.

Businesses use effective communication tools to provide secure employee messaging across distributed teams and networks. Modern solutions deliver far more than just instant messaging and online meetings.

Robust feature sets help employees meet company goals, serve customers efficiently, and complete projects on time by making it easy to reach the right team members across a variety of communication channels.

With many firms embracing remote work, providing flexible tools for your team members is a must. Without the proper security features and collaboration tools, you’re setting them up for failure.

Examples of communication software include:

5 Types of Communication Platforms

Communication platforms can be divided into five categories, each with distinct benefits. These platforms use real-time and asynchronous communication to simplify the way you work.

1. Internal communications

Internal communication platforms establish real-time conversations between employees, supervisors, and authorized partners. The channels often include VoIP calls, group chats, and text notifications.

Examples: Nextiva, Slack, Confluence

Team chat in Nextiva
Example of an internal communication tool – Team Chat in Nextiva

2. Customer communications

Customer communication tools help customers feel heard, supported, and satisfied. Top functions include a CRM to store customer interactions, support tickets, and live chat.

Customer communication platforms organize requests, track customer sentiment, and analyze trends. Advanced solutions offer customer service automation using artificial intelligence to help you scale.

Examples: Nextiva, Zendesk, Help Scout, Zoho Desk

3. Project management

Project management platforms provide oversight into team workflows to align dispersed groups. Features like task management, Gantt charts, timelines, and custom fields add structure to visualize progress.

With large initiatives broken into smaller assignments, all stakeholders can update deliverable status to surface potential delays early and often to keep efforts on track.

Examples: Asana, Monday.com, Basecamp

4. Video conferencing

Video meetings replicate the experience of face-to-face gatherings for everything from daily standups to quarterly all-hands events, trade show keynotes, and external webinars.

Advanced solutions move beyond basic video streaming with robust options — dial-in audio lines, group messaging, attendee management, polling questions, cloud recordings, and more to power impactful virtual session sizes small and large.  

Examples: Nextiva, Zoom, Skype, Google Hangouts

Nextiva video meeting software

5. Collaboration tools

Collaboration platforms allow fluid teamwork and feedback cycles through real-time editing and annotation capabilities for delivering dynamic presentations.

Teams can exchange ideas freely without getting bogged down in scheduling meetings or circulating endless email chains trying to settle on directions.

Video conferencing, cloud storage, virtual whiteboarding, and secure external portals are table-stakes features companies should look for. Equally important are the identity and access components to control document access and maintain version histories for compliance.

Examples: Nextiva, Google Drive, Trello, Workvivo

13 Best Communication Platforms for Businesses

We’ve rounded up 14 platforms you should know for seamless business communication. Consider these solutions to enhance your workflow and customer satisfaction.

1. Nextiva

Nextiva phone system

Type of platform: Internal communications, Unified Communications, Customer Communications, Video Meetings, Collaboration, Productivity

Nextiva is a connected communications platform that brings your customers and teams together. It works out of the box with your mobile devices, VoIP phones, and desktops via a softphone app

Nextiva has earned its place among the top communication platforms thanks to its powerful mix of features, flexibility, and scalability. But what exactly makes it tick? Let’s look at its key features and pricing.

Nextiva’s key features:

Pricing:

Nextiva offers three main VoIP plans, each catering to different business needs:

2. Slack

Slack Main Image

Type of platform: Internal communications

Slack is an alternative to internal emails as a real-time messaging tool for business. It offers channels for specific topics, departments, or offices. Employees can also talk to each other through direct messages.

Key features of Slack include:

Pricing:

Slack offers a freemium model, catering to both individual users and businesses. Growing teams can upgrade to the Pro plan for unlimited messages, storage, and guest access, starting at $7.25 per user per month (billed annually).

3. Microsoft Teams

Microsoft teams

Type of platform: Collaboration

Microsoft Teams is a team collaboration app for those in the Microsoft ecosystem. It brings meetings, chats, calls, and collaboration to one place. Microsoft Teams makes it easy to go from group chat to video call with a single click.

Key features of Microsoft Teams include:

Pricing

Teams offers three main tiers. Microsoft Teams Essentials starts at $4 per user/month (subscribed annually) and adds video conferencing, live captions, and 10 GB of cloud storage per user.

4. Zoom

Zoom conference service

Type of platform: Video conferencing

Zoom is a video meeting and conferencing tool. Participants can join meetings from any device, including dialing in from their phones. Administrators can record meetings and can set up integrations with other third-party services.

What are some of Zoom’s key features?

Pricing

The Pro plan starts at $149.90 per user/year and offers longer meetings, recordings, branding, and reports. Large enterprises need to contact Zoom for a custom enterprise plan quote.

5. GoTo Meeting

GoTo meeting

Type of platform: Video conferencing

GoToMeeting is a web-based platform for online meetings, video conferencing, and screen sharing. It’s primarily designed for business professionals and remote teams, but can also be used for educational webinars.

Key features of GoTo Meeting include:

Pricing

GoToMeeting offers tiered pricing plans catering to different needs and team sizes. The Professional plan starts at $12 per month (billed annually), offering video meetings with up to 150 participants, meeting recordings, and attendee insights. Large organizations need to contact GoTo’s sales for custom pricing.

6. Asana

Asana

Type of platform: Project management

Asana is a cloud-based project management tool. You can use it for unlimited projects, which you can organize into lists, boards, and calendars. It makes it easy for small businesses to ship projects large and small.

Key Asana features include:

Pricing

Asana offers tiered pricing based on features and the number of users. The Starter plan starts at $10.99 per user/month (billed annually), offering project templates, custom fields, reports, and integrations for small teams and individuals. Contact Asana for a custom Enterprise plan with enhanced security, data control, and priority support.

7. Basecamp

Basecamp product shot

Type of platform: Project management

Basecamp is a project management and team communication software. It’s a trusted app for remote firms — it’s worth pointing out that Basecamp has always been a remote company. It helps you move your work from emails, file services, and spreadsheets.

Key Basecamp features include:

Pricing

Basecamp’s base plan costs $15/user per month, which is ideal for small teams or startups. Basecamp Pro Unlimited costs $299/month (billed annually), and adds features like automatic check-ins, goals, and enhanced file-sharing capabilities.

8. Trello

Trello product shot

Type of platform: Project management

Trello organizes your projects into attractive task boards. It’s a visual task management tool and provides a clear workflow map.

Key Trello features include:

Pricing

Trello offers a tiered pricing plan. Standard at $5 per user/month, billed annually, is best for small teams. Premium costs $10 per user/month and is ideal for businesses requiring enhanced features and admin controls.

9. Monday.com

Monday.com product shot

Type of platform: Project management

Monday.com is a visual planning platform. It lets you plan, organize, and track all your team’s work. Users receive real-time updates, so everyone has context on the project at hand.

Keay features of Monday.com include:

Pricing

Monday.com offers tiered pricing based on features and the number of users. The Basic plan costs $9 per seat/month. The Pro plan at $19 per user/month brings advanced automation, guest access, and private boards. Both plans are billed annually and you need to pay for a minimum of 3 seats. Contact Monday.com for a custom Enterprise plan.

10. Google Drive

Google Drive product shot

Type of platform: Collaboration

Google Drive is a cloud storage solution that allows you to access saved files anytime. Store company assets like videos and logos, internal guides, slide decks, and more.

Everything on Google Drive is in sync for every employee that has access. It’s an attractive solution for remote collaboration and file version control.

What are some of Google Drive’s key features?

Pricing

Paid plans for Google Workspace start at $6 per user/month (billed annually). You can also pick from other plans for businesses and teams, including unlimited storage, advanced security features, and custom email domains.

11. Dropbox

dropbox cloud app for unified communications

Type of platform: Collaboration

Dropbox is another cloud storage solution. It lets you back your files up through file sync, file recovery if you delete a file and version history. Collaboration features make it easy to share links or file previews and leave comments on a file.

Key Dropbox features include:

Pricing

Dropbox’s Plus plan costs $9.99/month and gives you 2TB for work and play. It’s good for personal use. Dropbox’s Business plan costs $20/user/month and is ideal for small teams.

12. Skype

Skype product shot

Type of platform: Video conferencing

Skype offers high-quality video and audio conferencing, international calling, and group communication. It’s an excellent tool for video collaboration.

Key features of Skype include:

Pricing

Basic plan fits personal calls and small meetings with up to 50 participants. For unlimited calling within the US, the plans start at $2.95/month. Skype Credit lets you call internationally.

13. Loom

Loom product shot

Type of platform: Collaboration

Loom is a video-sharing tool that lets you record your screen, narrate, or appear on camera. What makes Loom unique is that it’s intended for screen-sharing videos. You can also connect with team members without having to find time in everyone’s calendar.

Key Loom features include:

Pricing

Start free for 5-minute videos and personal projects. The Business plan, at $12.50/month (billed annually), brings shared workspaces, analytics, and custom recording sizes. Contact Loom for a custom Enterprise plan.

Tips for Choosing a Communication Platform

Choosing the right communication platform can be tricky, but with the right checklist, you can easily find one that connects you with your audience and drives your communication. Here are some tips to guide you:

1. Know your purpose

What are you going to use the tool for? Is it for internal communication, customer engagement, project collaboration, or something else? Clearly defining your goals will help you narrow down options and focus on features that support those goals.

2. Understand your audience

Who are you trying to reach? Consider their age, tech savviness, preferred communication methods, and location. Choose a platform that’s accessible and user-friendly for your target audience.

3. Analyze your message

Is your message formal or informal? Does it require real-time interaction or asynchronous collaboration? Different platforms excel at different message types. For example, email might be better for formal announcements, while instant messaging could suit quick updates.

4. Consider your resources

What’s your budget? Some platforms offer free or basic plans, while others have different pricing tiers based on features and user count. Also include setup, training, and ongoing maintenance costs in your budget considerations.

5. Explore key features

Prioritize features that align with your needs. Do you need video conferencing, file sharing, project management tools, or integrations with other software? Make a list of must-have features and compare different platforms to see which ones offer the best combination.

Nextiva voip service

Once that’s dialed down, here’s what to look for in a platform:

Remember, the perfect communication platform doesn’t exist. Focus on your needs and priorities to find one that bridges the gap between you and your audience, fostering clearer and more effective communication.

Want To Make The Choice Easy? Choose Nextiva

For businesses seeking a communication platform that scales seamlessly with their growth, Nextiva stands out.

With robust telephony, omnichannel contact options, integrated analytics, and easy CRM integrations, Nextiva provides end-to-end capabilities for effective customer engagement.

Strong reliability and support as well as flexible plans suit even small businesses. Nextiva makes it easier to unite distributed teams and provide consistent customer experiences.

Torn between many options and complex buying considerations?

Embrace faster collaboration with Nextiva