Communication is not just limited to people within an organization. More often than not, employees are required to get in touch with people who work outside the organization like vendors, ad agencies, partners, and contractors. This forms a crucial part of business communication. With the need to communicate with third parties comes the need for specific tools that would keep your internal communication and external communication apart and secure. This ideally helps keep your organization assets secure without giving external contacts access to internal information completely.
Some internal communication tools offer external collaboration as an add-on. Whereas, other times you would have to purchase a dedicated tool paying a hefty sum just to communicate with external stakeholders. While both options might seem feasible, depending on what you are looking for, having an external communication tool as an add-on to your existing internal communication tool would make it easy for you to navigate without switching tabs while also remaining cost effective.
What to consider in an external collaboration solution
You might have to keep a few things in mind when choosing an external collaboration solutions for your business.
The number one factor to consider when you are looking for an external collaboration solution is security. While giving you the flexibility to collaborate with whomever you want, the tool should allow you to keep your organization information secure and segregate it from your conversations with external contacts, giving external users no access to internal information.
It is imperative to check the level of access an external contact has when you are collaborating. The right solution should be able to provide you with access controls so you can exercise restrictions based on your needs and safeguard information.
The easier the onboarding, the superior the experience. Since external collaboration tools are often used for communicating with vendors, frontline workers, and agencies, simplifying the onboarding process would help them get accustomed to the tool easily. Some external collaboration tools provide sign ups using mobile numbers without the need for an email address, streamlining the entire onboarding experience.
The ease of collaboration
For collaborating with your external stakeholders, ensure the solution you choose provides you with the necessary tools to get work done. Businesses often look for one-to-one chats, groups or channels, online audio and video meetings, and file sharing for collaboration. The interface should allow all users to get familiar with the tool from the get go.
Your collaboration tool should not just allow you to exchange messages and files. With integrations, you can unlock a completely different way to collaborate by bringing data from other apps you use inside your external collaboration tool and manage them in the same space. This helps you streamline your activities across applications.
Making the best use of Zoho Cliq's external collaboration tools
Apart from Zoho Cliq being an internal communication tool, it provides its users with various options to connect with external contacts. If you are looking to collaborate with people outside your organization in a secure way, pick the best option that suits your business needs.
This feature allows you to add a guest as an external contact to your Cliq organization account. You can connect with the guest through direct message, send files in chat, and get on calls without leaving your Cliq organization.
Guest chat is best used when you want to engage with someone one-on-one without onboarding them into your organization. Let's say you have recently recruited an intern in your team. The intern isn't a confirmed employee, as per your company's payroll, but that doesn't limit you from working with them on a day-to-day basis. In this case, you can invite the intern as an external contact and use guest chat to communicate with them every day. You can share ideas, check their progress, brainstorm, and work together with guest chat. If you'd like to chat with more than one guest in the same chat, you can initiate a group guest chat and collaborate.
External channels are shared spaces for when you want to bring people from two different organizations into the same space with additional flexibility in collaboration. Admins can create the channel, add users from your organization, and invite members from outside your organization to the same external channel, set permissions for members in the channel and scale as needed. With external channels, you can send and read messages in the channel, share files, organize virtual meetings, and also set channel restrictions for the members.
For example, if your team is working on a project in collaboration with another team from Organization X, you can create an external channel and invite the required team members from Organization X. Both the teams' members can interact and work together using the external channel.
The limitation with both guest chat and external channels is the communication is done from your organization account. The notifications will be tied to it and conversations will not be segregated. This could be of concern to some businesses handling highly sensitive data.
With networks in Zoho Cliq, you can create a dedicated space, just like your organization account, to collaborate with multiple stakeholders. You can create separate networks for dedicated purposes like collaborating with partners, working on projects with ad agencies, or maintaining a separate parent-teacher communication portal for educational institutions. With networks, you segregate your organization and external communication, maintaining different spaces without any overlap in information.
Networks is a more organized and secure approach to external communication and comes in handy when you want a long-term collaboration platform without the need to dissolve now and then. Since Networks is offered as an add-on for paid Cliq users, you can navigate to a network in just a click without logging into a separate account.
You can create multiple channels in a single network, host online meetings, chat one-on-one with every network member,and make the most out of external collaboration. You can also develop custom apps with workflows to bring data from third-party apps inside Zoho Cliq and manage them in one interface.
Better yet, you can install our ready-to-use extensions from Zoho Marketplace for improved productivity. With this, you can access files from Google Drive, monitor your projects on Asana, resolve tickets in Zendesk, and more all within Zoho Cliq.
To learn more about networks and other external collaboration options in Zoho Cliq, check out the complete comparison document.