How to revolutionize your team communication with Slack

We recently released a post on Slack and the many integrations it offers for team communication. This post inspired quite a few readers to try it out. We thought it would be helpful to outline how our system is set up to give people a good idea of the potential of the app.

What is Slack?

Slack is a modern team communication tool that consolidates and simplifies day to day communication. It makes past conversations discoverable with search and is very intuitive in sharing information and knowledge.

For us @SlackHQ means less email, faster communication, less distractions and the ability to scale a… Click To Tweet

For us, Slack means less email, better, faster communication, less distractions and the ability to scale a world wide remote team. Do all of your team members really need email accounts?

Related: Slack quick start guide

Have direct conversations instead of email

There’s a different feel to a Slack conversation compared to email. Emails seem to encourage long, detailed messages with all the formalities included. Slack conversations have more of a “chat room” style, where concise messages are encouraged.

For me, the majority of my time is spent in private 1-on-1 conversations with the team, mostly discussing new content and preparing all the necessary information for our monthly reports.

When working with Dan or Alex on a piece of content, I like to collect their feedback and make a checklist of the comments and suggestions they give me. I like to click the little star next to the timestamp for each suggestion. This creates a to-do list within my “starred items” list. That way I can come back to it later and not let the messages get buried in other conversations.

Related: The best of WP Curve – productivity

How to segment important communication with channels

A key feature in Slack is channels. They function like separate chat rooms tailored to a specific branch of your business. You customer support team does not need to see conversations from the development team. This is especially important as your business grows and your channels start to see more traffic.

Channels also help create a more collaborative environment. Team members can discuss issues and ideas in a public and transparent environment.

Start with the right channels

Slack is easier to adopt and understand if the whole team participates, and setting up the right channels can make this process easy for everyone. Many teams have the following channels set up for their operations:

  • Customer support
  • Development
  • Marketing
  • Creative

Keeping these operations separate allows for better focus on tasks and information relevant to each team’s work. All of these operations also benefit from conversations happening in the most public venue possible to avoid repetition, clarify messaging and let people know when a job is done.

Some startups have a dozen or more channels, each finely tuned to certain tasks, others organize their channels around tools. What’s best for you and your own team will vary. We’ll share some of our favorites to get your started.

A channel for happier customers and faster responses

If you run a service of any kind a channel dedicated to customer support will probably be the first thing you set up. It’s easy to set up integrations with your help desk software and any other places you interact with your customers.

Our WP Curve Daily channel is the main hub of communication for our team. Our team greets each other when they log in, and everyone gets excited for the day’s work. The team uses the channel to let everyone know who’s online, who is on a break, and who is about to log off. This helps keep tasks running smoothly.

A dedicated channel to a certain branch of your business creates a more collaborative environment. If a team member gets stuck on a task, they ask for help or feedback in the channel. Other developers will give suggestions and encouragement. This is also a good way to test and make sure a feature of a site is working properly. Our team will share screenshots of a site with different browsers, locations and connection speeds to make sure the site is working well across different platforms.

We have Help Scout integrated with this channel. Help Scout is helpdesk software that is simple for your customers and collaborative for your team. It sends a message when our clients rate our jobs. The team shares some congratulations and encouragement when someone gets a great rating.

There are plenty of ways you can create scripts tailor made to help your team perform better. We have a custom script in place so when a VIP customer submits a ticket, a notification will appear in this channel. This gives an extra boost in response time for all our VIP clients. We also use a custom script in this channel that reminds everyone about our weekly team meetings and what they need to do to prepare.

For businesses that communicate with their customers via Twitter, you can have tweets feed into your customer support channel. Anytime someone mentions @WPCurve, the tweet appears in chat. Occasionally, this will be about a job for a client. This helps us respond quickly and efficiently.

Related: 17 Slack integrations to spice up your team communication

Manage your business via Slack

You can manage your operations with a channel dedicated to your management and administrative team. This channel can feed you high-level information for your team’s performance and business metrics. You may not be able to get all the most relevant data flowing in this channel with integrations alone. You can set up processes for your admin team to collect and share updates on this channel as well.

Our management channel contains information on the daily and weekly performance of our individual team members, as well as the team as a whole. The information here is set up to give our management team the critical data they need to keep things running smoothly, without it getting buried in the chat of the daily channel.

Here we report our:

Daily response times – We’re constantly tracking response times and our happiness scores each day.

Developer performance scores – We share a weekly report on developer performance.

Customer payments – We have a daily process to check if any of our customers’ payment information is about to expire.

Affiliate applications – We announce new affiliates and their reasons for signing up as an affiliate.

Changes in staffing – Holidays or unforseen events may change our expected staffing,

New tools or services we are using – If we sign up for a new tool or service, we will announce it in this channel so everyone can take advantage of it and we can include it in our financials.

How to make Slack a cheerleader for your team

It’s a good idea to have a channel dedicated to your team’s performance. This gives people a place to celebrate achievements and give your team members a chance to get out of the rush between individual jobs and focus on the bigger picture.

We use our general channel to share major changes to our processes, our developer of the month, and celebrate milestones. We also use this channel to report on our daily team performance as a whole.

slack general team communication

We also have customer feedback coming into our general channel. This gives details on the customer’s rating of the job and a comment if they left one. This helps us know how the ticket went and quickly respond if there are any problems. We also announce the testimonials of the week here, it is a collection of the top 5 testimonials from our clients and the team members that helped them.

This is not just for business milestones, 1 of our team members just shared a wedding announcement on this channel.

wedding

A channel for internal questions

With larger teams and process driven businesses it helps to have a channel where team members can discuss procedures.

We have a channel designated for questions and concerns regarding our internal processes and systems. It is not used as much as our General or Daily channels, but it is good to have a separate place for these conversations, so they don’t interrupt the flow on the other channels.

Channels beyond your team

The potential of channels is not limited to your team. You can create public Slack rooms for your customers to discuss your product or service, this is a particularly good option for SaaS companies. Businesses like Pixate have created channels for the customers to collaborate via Slack.

You can also create a channel to engage and collaborate with like minds. You can form a mastermind group with people that have similar challenges as you and work together on solutions. Journalists across the country have been using Slack and the Google Hangouts integration to help each other with things like social media strategy, analytics and site design.

Tips for making the most of Slack for team communication

Keep it fun

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With Slack as your hub for communication, you want it to be a place where people want to spend time, especially if your team is remote. Encouraging lighthearted conversation will build a sense of community and keep dialogue flowing in your channels. This also includes little things like saying “good morning” or saying goodbye to everyone when you sign off or take a lunch break.

We even have some easter egg responses programmed for our bot to encourage this.

slack bot lunch

Learn a few hotkeys

I like to find a few good hotkeys for the apps I use frequently to speed up my work. To access the basic hotkey list, use ‘command + /’ for mac and ‘control + /’ for PC.

My favorite is the quick switcher ‘command + k’, to jump between channels.

Slack keyboard shortcuts

Conclusion

Give Slack a chance, and you’ll be surprised how it changes the way your team communicates or improves how your business operates. You might even forget the password to your email account.

For additional reading on Slack I recommend:

17 Slack integrations to spice up your team communication

11 Useful Tips for Getting the Most out of Slack

9 Slack Hacks We Couldn’t Live Without

The quick start guide to Slack for startups

How are you using Slack? Let us know in the comments.

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About

Kyle is the founder of Conversion Cake . He is the author of "The College Entrepreneur" A book for students who want to break into entrepreneurship. Follow him @kylethegray

10 responses to “How to revolutionize your team communication with Slack”

  1. Just what I needed Kyle – thanks. I have just started with Slack with my tiny team of 2 but I hope to get our suppliers into Slack too so we can get out of the email paradigm. The initial experience with Slack is just great. I like the way it “talks” to me – its fun.

  2. Quentin Berder says:

    Very interesting, we are also using Slack a lot in our company. I would like to know if possible what you are using to generate your report and your daily team performance. Thanks!

  3. Kyle Gray says:

    I’m glad it was helpful Nick! I if you can get that initial experience working well then it is very easy to keep moving forward with Slack.

    Let me know how it goes with the suppliers, it could be interesting to see how you can get two businesses interacting through Slack.

  4. Kyle Gray says:

    Hey Quentin,

    For those reports we have our administrative team run them. We have a few processes set up that they follow.

    We are considering creating some templates from these processes and sharing them as a downloadable on this post. Would that be something that interests you?

  5. Quentin Berder says:

    Thanks for the reply. Yes indeed I would love to see these templates, if you could share them that would be great!

  6. Hugh Culver says:

    Thanks Kyle – I think this is the motivation I need. We have 7 on the team and email is not the best. I think slack will help keep conversations going. Plus I love the idea of metrics being shared. I wonder if it works with zapier?

  7. Kyle Gray says:

    Hugh, I mentioned in Quentin’s comment below about how we use our admin team and processes to share our metrics.

    We are considering sharing the processes as a download on this post. Would you be interested in that?

    If you can find a way to make it work on Zapier, I would love to hear about it.

  8. Hugh Culver says:

    Cool, Thanks Kyle. Yes, I’m interested. We are just talking today about how to keep our team engaged as we serve our clients – we can only do so many dinners out!

  9. AzamKhan says:

    did you guys ever set these up?

  10. Kyle Gray says:

    So we did not end up giving away the templates for reporting in Slack. We thought it would be more valuable to create a guide to help a team get started with Slack. So we just released this post: http://wpcurve.com/quick-start-slack/

    We found the reporting to be too specific to our business to have much value elsewhere. But we also have another post that will show you the process for setting them up for your own team: http://wpcurve.com/team-task-automation/

    I hope that helps!

    @quentinberder:disqus I just wanted to tag you on this one too because I told you I would follow up.

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