What is a team messaging app?

Written by:
Mike Mattingly
team messaging
channel conversations
team chat

What is a team messaging app?

A team messaging app is any application that allows multiple people (a team of 2 or more) to send and receive messages to and from each other as a form of effective communication. Think of this as team chat. Using this definition there are hundreds of apps that qualify as a team messaging app. SMS, email, GroupMe and Rake all answer the call for a messaging app but most people are looking for more when they think about team chat apps. While they may not know it, they are likely looking for some type of team collaboration platform that includes team chat as a headliner among the applications in the platform.

Messaging app features

In thinking about features we find in messaging apps we look in team messaging or team chat apps and beyond team messaging apps. Rarely can one find a single platform that includes team chat (internal) and customer (external) messaging. Rake is one of the few that offers both types of messaging for the user in one workspace and one mobile app. One consistent feature you will find across team communication apps is an alert system. Regardless of message type, a group message, a direct message or a customer message, notifications are sent to help alert the user to the new pending message. Slack has been criticized for creating notification fatigue across organizations which has led many to look for a Slack alternative such as Rake. In addition to notifications, one will generally find a task application included as a compliment to messaging. Task management tends to be essential as team messaging often includes a text exchange related to or leading to a task. Many team chat apps include tasks. When multiple applications are combined in a single platform we often begin to use the word collaboration as the platform does become a collaboration tool.

Rake is a collaboration platform with strong messaging applications
Rake is one of many collaboration platforms

Conversation channels

Conversations hosted in channels have become very popular in team chat in the last five years. If you're not familiar with channels think of a channel as a chat room. This form of messaging, essentially group messaging, improves productivity and team communication over using email for several reasons. Channels flow like a stream of messaging and are highly searchable to help users find files or information that may have been shared in channels. Rake allows all users, free and paid, to search message history without limitations. Slack limits multiple users as the user can only search channels over the last 10 days or up to a specific number of posts. Conversation channels are great for adding people over time. New employees can be added and those employees have the benefit of searching the history of the channels to help them get up to speed on the topics the channels were built around. To do this in an email chain is confusing and such a bad user experience we rarely see companies using this approach. This is a key reason why channels are better than email for team messaging and team chat including a remote team, an office team and a distributed team.

Private channels

Many team chat messaging apps, including Rake, Google chat, Microsoft Teams and Slack allow for channels to be built as a private experience. This requires team chat workspace users to be added by someone other than themselves. Typically, users in the messaging workspace will not see private channels if they are not a member of the channels. Private channels are great for smaller teams within an organizations like 'Sales' or 'Legal'. Private channels are a key feature in team messaging.

Public channels

Unlike private channels, the public version is available for everyone in the workspace to see and join. These could be channels built around something fun like 'today's fun fact' or something like 'company history' which can be great for new employees and PR and marketing departments. We should note that when we mention a 'workspace', usually all employees or members of an organization are included as a user in the workspace. Public channels are a key feature in team messaging.

Broadcast channels

Broadcast channels are channels that typically just one user or a few have posting rights for and these channels do not allow users to reply to messages. Channels like these are great for company announcements. These are not conversations - just announcements. Broadcast channels are a key feature in team messaging.

Universal Conversation Channels by Rake
Universal Conversation Channels

Universal conversation channels

Universal channels are very new in the team messaging industry and are presently only available in one form or the other from less than five companies including Rake. Rake is the only company that offers a universal channel user interface. Some universal channels from companies like M.io are just middleware. Rake universal channels are private chat streams that allow people from outside the workspace to join and participate. Unlike typical guest functionality, the Rake universal channels include enhanced functionality and allow people to use multiple apps like SMS, Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp to send and receive messages without using Rake. These channels are great for inviting clients and freelancers to participate in an exchange of ideas, information, files, etc. without suffering through the friction and clutter of email. Universal channels are a key reason why Rake is beginning to lead in the team communication space. Teams want to and need to collaborate with people outside their organization and Rake allows them to do this without friction or stress for each user.

Direct messages or DMs

Direct messages are very similar to what we see in SMS texting or DMs in Twitter or Instagram. Direct messaging can include two or more users. When more than two users participate in a DM, the experience is similar to private channels. However, unlike channels a DM does not typically revolve around a focused topic. While a one to one DM may seem very much like text messaging, when the exchange lives in a workspace, the members of the DM can more easily search for items previously included in the messaging. DMs are a key feature in any team messaging app.

Customer chat

In the world of messaging we also should consider external chat or what we typically think of as customer chat. Unlike group chat or team chat apps, customer chat is almost exclusively between one customer and one agent or user. A customer chat app can be made available for the customer in many places or channels. Communication is a key driver of success across all businesses and Rake unlike the Slack app, helps organizations of all types host great communication with customers and internal teams. When a customer begins a chat, a notification is sent to the Rake workspace and the chat can be answered by a user in the Rake workspace. Slack offers users integrations with customer service platforms and applications but Slack does not offer customer support messaging.

omnichannel customer chat is included in the Rake platform
Rake offers more than Slack including omnichannel customer chat

Omnichannel chat

Omnichannel chat for customers is all about providing or offering the same customer chat experience across many (all if possible) channels. SMS is one of these channels. This means a customer should be able to send a text message to a business and receive the same support experience as they would if they sent an message through a chat widget tool from the business website. The agent or user would see the source or application the customer is using and reply with answers and direction to provide effective communication. Rake provides a chat tool for websites and allows the user business to connect their Facebook business page through Facebook Messenger to the Rake workspace. The same connections are available for Google chat and instant messaging apps like WhatsApp, SMS and Instagram.

Customer chat features

The Rake customer chat application is feature rich. Multiple users can answer customer chats and during their chat they can see message history. The message history helps the user understand context and win loyalty with sound communication. Clear, fast communication is key when trying to win customer loyalty. Using the customer chat app users can create tasks for customer follow up as part of the task management app available in Rake. Microsoft Teams and Slack and many other collaborative platforms do not offer omnichannel customer chat. This is a key difference between Rake and the others. Rake has been built, from day one, with a universal approach. Communication with customers or co-workers is communication worthy of improvement.

Included applications

Applications including knowledge base, customers, tasks, visitor tracking and reporting are included in various collaboration platforms. While Microsoft Teams and Slack don't include all of these, the Rake universal messaging platform does include them. This is not a criticism of Slack. Slack was built in the early days of team communication and they should not be held to the new standards of next generation chat app platforms. Slack is a success story. They were bought by Salesforce for more than 25 billion dollars and today they have become focused on servicing Salesforce customers and finding ways to become more integrated with Salesforce.