Cloud-based phone systems are great assets in simplifying business-related telecommunications and reducing costs at the same time. The only problem is that unless you choose a truly enterprise-grade VoIP provider, one crucial feature may be missing: instant messaging.
Since nobody wants to use regular SMS texting, Facebook Messenger and other general IM apps, it is time to look for less conventional methods – like integrating Slack into your system.
Slack: The Enterprise-Grade Messaging Platform
Video Introduction of Slack
If you haven’t heard of it before, Slack is a team communications solution that brings all messaging into one uniform location thanks to integrations with various third-party software and tools, including Twitter, Dropbox, Google Drive, MailChimp and so on. The biggest benefit of Slack is its logical organization: conversations can be found under channels that can be private (so visible only to invited participants) or open to anyone. You can also send direct messages to one or more persons and get notified of incoming DMs via popups should you close Slack. Participants can easily drag and drop documents into the comment section, even starting a separate conversation under the shared file.
To make things even better Slack has made everything searchable, meaning you can look for specific messages, files and file contents at your will. Furthermore, Slack is not only available via browsers but also through Windows and Mac clients as well as iOS and Android apps. But the biggest reasons why Slack is a must for your team is that it is available for free or, if you want to enable group voice and video calls, unlimited searches and priority support, for just $6.67 per month on an annual subscription.
How to Integrate Slack With VoIP Providers?
Although Slack is capable of integrating with almost 200 different communications solutions and is the one of the best instant messaging solutions for businesses, the only VoIP solutions that can directly interact with this software are Skype and Google Hangouts. The latter is basically out of question without a Google Voice subscription, too. Unfortunately, very few VoIP providers offer and support an API, therefore integration with Slack is more or less impossible.
The seemingly only exception is RingCentral, albeit the integration of which is limited to using Zapier, a solution that uses zaps (where actions performed by the secondary software trigger another action in the primary system) to automate processes. Too bad it is between $20 and $250 per month extra, although the cheaper subscription at least provides you with a 14-day free trial and the option to have your first month for free – should you choose to pay annually.
The other option is Ottspott, a full-on VoIP service that provides call-related features like forwarding, queuing, conferencing, transferring, interactive voice response and monitoring, voicemail management, business messaging via SMS, and integration with Google and Zendesk. Your subscription, which is $30 per month for three users (plus $20 a month per additional person) also includes a desktop and mobile phone client, a phone number, free inbound calls, and the Ottspott Slackbot. This tool manages your contacts, lists unwanted phone numbers, controls integrations and is capable of launching calls.