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20 Communication Platforms for High-Growth Companies

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.

Not long ago, we published research on the ways people communicate at work. A staggering 60% of companies face a communications disaster every month.

Communication is essential to every business. Fast-growing companies can't afford to use disjointed communication tools. Lost sales, employee turnover, and customer complaints are byproducts of ineffective communications.

Is it possible that the way we engage with colleagues and customers isn't working?

These challenges have only grown since the pandemic. Almost 20% of firms had a rough transition to remote work, according to Buffer's 2021 State of Remote Work. The most notable changes were in the ways people communicate and collaborate.

In this guide, you'll learn about the five types of communication platforms. Plus, you'll get a rundown of the top solutions you should consider. Tap below if you'd like to read more about these solutions.

What is a communication platform?

A communication platform is a software solution that facilitates external and internal messaging. It utilizes many channels, including phone, video conferencing, task management, and team messaging. Newer platforms offer project management, file sharing, and customer communication functionality.

Companies use a communication platform to provide secure employee messaging. Today's platforms offer much more than instant messaging and calling. They help employees meet company goals, serve customers, and complete projects on time. They make it easy to reach the right team member across a variety of communication channels.

With many firms embracing remote work, it's a must to provide flexible tools for your team members. Without the proper communication and collaboration tools, you're setting them up for failure.

Examples of communication software include:

  • Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS)
    VoIP phone service, team messaging, video conferencing as one package.
  • Communications Platform as a Service (CPaaS)
    APIs, one-off PBX functionality, used by developers to build apps.
  • Contact Center as a Service (CCaaS)
    Call center software, omnichannel messaging, leverages workflow automation.

These communication platforms cost $20-$50 per user per month. To realize the value of each, think about the Software as a Service (SaaS) apps they replace.

The bottom line? A communications platform keeps your team aligned and your customers satisfied.

Types of communication platforms

There are five types of communication platforms out there each with distinct benefits. These platforms utilize asynchronous and/or real-time communication to simplify the way you work.

Let's start with internal communications.

Internal communications

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

At the heart of an internal communications platform is trust. It must be secure, reliable, and in some cases for industries like healthcare and professional services, compliant. It allows employees to interact without giving out their cell phone numbers. Corporate communications don't belong in a personal app like WhatsApp.

Many UCaaS platforms cater to employees, so this is a core function rather than a separate platform.

Examples: Nextiva, Slack, Confluence

Customer communications

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

In 2020, one-third of companies lost revenue due to a customer communications issue. Without happy customers, you'll struggle to grow your business.

Examples: Zendesk, Help Scout, Zoho Desk

Project management

If your work has deadlines or milestones, a project management platform is essential. A project management tool prioritizes your workflow and keeps everyone on track. This function includes product launches, marketing campaigns, vendor management, sales efforts, and more.

Project management tools tackle big projects by breaking them down into smaller activities. Team members can update their progress, adjust timelines, and work unimpeded.

Communication issues cause 30% of firms to miss deadlines, so you're not alone.

Examples: Asana, Monday.com, Basecamp

Collaboration tools

Collaboration platforms enable many people to work on the same file or project at once. This category includes screen sharing, working on the same document, or virtual whiteboards.

Team members exchange ideas through virtual communication. These interactions exist on top of other communication methods. Reach consensus without the interruption of email or finding an in-person meeting room.

Another challenge companies face is managing access. Check for single sign-on functionality with multi-factor authentication.

Examples: Google Drive, Trello, CloudApp

Video conferencing

Video conferencing is a substitute for in-person meetings, workshops, and events. With the right tool for video calls, you can meet with your team, present product demos, or host webinars.

Video conference platforms offer more than live video. Participants can attend from any device, dial into the audio, and share feedback in the group chat. Moderate meetings by screening attendees, muting participants, activating recording, and more.

Video meetings go beyond internal communication. If you host online training, leverage cloud-based recording capabilities. Recall key details and reduce repeat questions later.

Examples: Zoom, Skype, Google Hangouts

20 of the best communication platforms

We've rounded up 20 platforms you should for seamless business communication. Consider these solutions to enhance your workflow and customer satisfaction.

1. NextivaXbert logo

Nextiva is a connected communication platform that brings your customers and teams together. Once a cloud-based PBX, it has grown into a robust unified communications platform.

Its platform streamlines business voice, video, chat, analytics, and automation. Instead of switching between separate apps, you can focus on running your business.

Nextiva gives you functionalities like:

  • Communications: Phone, chat, SMS, social media, and video.
  • Productivity: Sales pipeline management, helpdesk, customer surveys, and team collaboration.
  • Insight: Customer journey, workflow automation, and business analytics.

It works out of the box with your mobile devices, VoIP phones, and desktops via a softphone app. Automate your workflows and simplify everyone's workday.

Nextiva's communications platform is a top choice among startups and enterprises.

Type of platform: Internal communications

2. SlackSlack logo icon

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.

You can use Slack for text messages, voice and video calls, and file sharing. Thousands of third-party integrations add functionality and workflows to your Slack instance.

Slack rivals Microsoft Teams for workplace messaging. In December 2020, Salesforce acquired Slack for $27.7 billion.

Type of platform: Internal communications

3. GuruGetGuru logo

Guru is a corporate wiki software for organizing company information. Guru equips new employees with the knowledge they need to know about the company. It helps streamline internal communications through alerts about releases and updates.

Guru integrates with tools like Slack and Microsoft Teams to align your employees. With a central wiki, you can capture the information you and your employees need the most. This internal communication platform reduces meetings and helps every team member serve themselves.

Type of platform: Internal communications

4. ConfluenceConfluence logo

Confluence is a team workspace built for sharing knowledge with teammates. Confluence breaks down information silos, turns conversations into projects, and organizes company initiatives.

You can use Confluence's templates for projects across product, marketing, and customer support. For extra customization, Confluence's marketplace offers more than 3,000 app integrations.

Type of platform: Internal communications

5. ZendeskZendesk logo

Zendesk is a customer relationship management solution. Their customer service solution provides support across any channel your customers use. It includes messaging, live chat, email, social media, and voice.

Many companies use Zendesk to build a help center or a community forum. The software integrates your customer data with your existing systems. Like Twilio, its APIs are well-documented, which can speed up custom software development.

Type of platform: Customer communications

6. Zoho DeskZoho Desk logo

Zoho Desk is a customer service software that takes customer context into account. It allows you to assign and set up alerts on support tickets. This solution helps your agents stay productive and ensure an excellent customer experience.

Zoho Desk provides omnichannel customer support, including email, chat, phone, and social media. Automate workflows to reduce the time it takes for the customer to receive help.

Type of platform: Customer communications

7. HiverHiver logo

Hiver is a helpdesk app built atop Gmail. Assign and track emails that come into your shared customer service account. Your team can set the status for email, take ownership over a support query, and leave notes about a case for others.

Hiver automates tasks like distributing tasks so you can focus on the most relevant work. Save time and get back to customers faster with email templates.

Type of platform: Customer communications

8. Help ScoutHelp Scout logo

Help Scout's customer service solution revolves around a shared inbox. Agents can help customers through chat or respond via email without conflicts.

Help Scout's customer experience is friendly and straightforward for customers. The customer communication tool integrates with over 50 e-commerce, marketing, and sales tools.

Type of platform: Customer communications

9. Monday.comMondaydotcom logo

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.

Monday provides several different visualizations, including kanban, timeline, calendar, and more. Monday's automation recipes save time on manual work. The platform is available on desktop and mobile.

Type of platform: Project management

10. AsanaAsana logo

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.

It offers many views for users, such as timelines to a more linear "task list" to avoid overwhelming users.

Asana comes with Android and iOS mobile apps. It integrates with many apps, including Salesforce and Slack (across different plans).

Type of platform: Project management

11. BasecampBasecamp logo

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, spreadsheets.

Basecamp's pricing is unique as they offer all features for one price. It's a flat rate that doesn't change based on the number of projects or employees.

Type of platform: Project management

12. HiveHive logo

Hive is a productivity platform with project management and collaboration capabilities. You can use it to plan projects, track work, and execute campaigns. Use different project views, including kanban, Gannt, calendar, table, and more.

Hive can save you time thanks to forms and templates for repeatable tasks. Hive simplifies feedback loops and approvals, helping you avoid bottlenecks. Hive also pulls your Gmail or Outlook emails to make sure tasks don't fall through the cracks.

Type of platform: Project management

13. TrelloTrello logo

Trello organizes your projects into attractive task boards. Each board contains a series of cards. Cards contain labels, images, checklists, and power-ups like custom fields.

You can use Trello to track projects as kanban boards. Your lists can represent different team members, teams, or project phases. Trello can be your ultimate brainstorming tool to capture your team's ideas in one place.

Type of platform: Project management

14. Google DriveGoogle Drive logo

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.

Google includes Drive with Google Workplace, an alternative to Microsoft Office 365.

Type of platform: Collaboration

15. Google DocsGoogle Docs logo

Google Docs is a cloud-based document editor. It's built right into Google Drive and allows you to work on a document along with your team members. Google Docs makes it easy to share documents inside and outside of your company.

You can edit documents at the same time, which gets saved and updated for every collaborator. The revision history stores all changes to a document. Users can add suggestions and notify other contributors through the built-in commenting feature.

Type of platform: Collaboration

16. DropboxDropbox logo

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.

Dropbox offers companies feature-rich file storage far beyond what on-premises file servers provide.

Dropbox's higher plans offer document passwords, branded sharing, insights, and viewer history. You can use Dropbox in your browser, as an Android or iOS app, or as a desktop app on Windows and Mac.

Type of platform: Collaboration

17. LoomLoom logo

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.

You can sort your Loom videos into shared and team libraries, so each team can access the exact videos they need.

Its higher-priced plans offer unlimited storage, custom branding, and viewer insights. Single sign-on integration makes Loom attractive for larger companies.

Type of platform: Collaboration

18. CloudAppCloudApp logo

CloudApp is a screen recording software for macOS and Windows. Create and share cloud-based screenshots, video recordings, and GIFs. Annotate images with arrows and highlights to make a sharper point.

It speeds up your workflow with instant uploading and adding links to your clipboard.

Some plans let you add custom branding, privacy controls, and analytics. It's a powerful tool to improve team collaboration, customer support, and product documentation.

Type of platform: Collaboration

19. Microsoft TeamsMicrosoft Teams logo

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

Microsoft plans to migrate its Skype for Business Online users to Teams by July 31, 2021.

If you use Word, PowerPoint, and Excel, find and share files with team members with ease. Calling features in Microsoft Teams include group calling, voicemail, and call transferring.

Nextiva's Microsoft Teams integration lets employees place and receive phone calls from Teams.

Type of platform: Collaboration

20. ZoomZoom logo

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.

Hosts can go beyond real-time video with reactions, polls, and hand-raising.

It's a breeze to schedule meetings. If you use Google Calendar, schedule meetings by converting events into Zoom events.

Type of platform: Video conferencing

Ready to upgrade your communication stack?

With the right communications platform, you can increase productivity and speed up growth.

Finding the best communication tool can be challenging. Every company has unique needs. What's important is that you find the one that works for you and your team.

If you're using a patchwork of several messaging apps, you're limiting your potential. Nextiva's all-in-one platform handles internal communication, customer management, and team collaboration.

About the author

Devin Pickell is a Growth Marketer at Nextiva. He combines his skills in content marketing, SEO, data analysis, and marketing strategy to meet audiences at the right moment in their journey. He has helped scale SaaS brands like G2 and Sphere Software, and contributed to G2's traffic growth of more than 1 million visitors-per-month. You can find him working on his project The Side Mission or Tweeting about sports, gaming, and business.