Gone are the days when you'd have to email a vendor back and forth to get a simple question answered or send large files through clunky file-sharing platforms. Slack manages both your internal and external communications.
While Slack channels are great for internal team collaboration, Slack Connect channels take it a step further by allowing you to connect with external partners, clients, and vendors in a single workspace. Let's take a look at some best practices to make the most out of this feature.
Let's break it down word by word. A ''channel'' in Slack is a shared space for team members to communicate. You can create different channels for each team, project, or any other purpose.
Slack Connect is a feature within Slack that lets you communicate with external stakeholders. All you have to do is send them an invite. Once they accept, you can start messaging them directly in Slack.
Slack Connect can have multiple use cases, depending on your organization's needs. Suppose you're a product manager, and you get off a feedback call with a customer. Now, you have to share a prototype with the customer for approval. Emails usually don't support large files. Also, they're not as organized as Slack channels.
So, instead of going through the hassle of setting up a file-sharing platform, you can just invite the customer to a Slack Connect channel. You share the prototype with them.
Next, you may use the same channel to share updates on the prototype's progress or any changes made.
Now, let's assume the role of a marketer. You want to interact with the creative agency that's handling your social media campaigns. Again, you can set up a Slack Connect channel for swift and seamless collaboration.
The agency can send mockups or proposals, and you can give your feedback. Since everyone is in the same channel, approvals are faster, and there's no need to shuffle through emails.
You can learn more about the requirements and limitations of Slack Connect channels in this Slack guide.
We've established that Slack Connect aids collaboration. But you must use it properly to see the desired outcomes. The following practices will help.
Why do you want to set up a Slack Connect channel with an external organization? Whatever the reason is, stick to it.
Don't clutter a channel with irrelevant information. Sometimes, your Slack Connect communication may be goal-driven. For example, a SaaS company may use such a channel to onboard a new client.
Once you've onboarded the customer, decide if you want to use the channel for other purposes like marketing and customer support. Alternatively, you can create separate channels for each interaction.
The agency or customer you're collaborating with may prefer different communication styles. Some may like quick updates; others could require detailed reports.
Discuss communication guidelines at the onset to avoid issues. Another handy tip here is to limit the number of people who can post in Connect channels.
Since you'll use these channels for announcements or official communication, you won't want distractions. You can manage posting permissions through the Settings tab in Slack.
If you want to select specific people who can reply to messages or post something, the cap is 100 people per channel. Alternatively, you can set restrictions based on roles, such as admin and general members.
One day, you start making channels, and by the end of the year, you have too many. It's time for some cleaning.
Decide on the maintenance frequency. If you're a startup, you may need to do this every few months. Larger enterprises may have to maintain their channels more frequently.
Delete inactive channels or those you don't need to use anymore. For example, if the collaboration with a client ends, you can archive those channels.
More importantly, use a template or naming convention for your channels. For instance, you may want to name client-specific channels with the #client name-department responsible-reason.
Suppose your client is called XYZ Inc., and you create a channel for their marketing project. In that case, the name could be: `xyz-marketing-project` or `xyz-mkt-project.`
Using numbers or letters may also work. But you'll run out of them soon. They're also harder to search. Instead, have a logical format that's easy to remember for everyone.
A sure-shot way to make your Slack Connect channels more functional is to employ Slack integrations and third-party apps.
Similarly, you can use a customer support tool like JustReply within Slack. Your customers can initiate tickets in the JustReply live chat widget, and the messages will appear within your Slack channel, where you can respond to them.
An exit strategy defines what to do with your Slack Connect channels when you no longer require them. It could be because the project ended or a client moved away. Maybe you're no longer buying from the same vendor, or you've moved on to a new agency.
Whatever the reason may be, an exit strategy is a must. Here are a few ways to handle the situation:
Slack Connect is undeniably a value-adding feature for businesses. It's more convenient than email, less hassle than meetings, and less of a money-burner compared to in-person events. So, it's a win-win in most, if not all, situations.