Tips for Using Instant Messaging in the Workplace

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Not all businesses “get” instant messaging. At its core, it is a quick solution for efficient communication. As more and more organizations utilize this solution, there will be a growing need for a set of best practices. The ideal plan of action for any business integrating IM with their communication efforts should include a solution for archiving all these interactions. But what are some practical applications for day-to-day use of corporate IM?

In a nutshell, IM enhances collaboration, and offers opportunities for time and cost savings. However, there are some risks and downsides to its use if not deployed and maintained properly.

Adopt a user policy for instant messaging
Instant messages are a valuable way to communicate internally and externally. Because an employee may be speaking with customers or business partners, it is important to have guidelines for what is appropriate to say.

This can include keeping business contacts separate and limiting the amount of personal messaging down at work. It is the first step to ensuring your workforce stays compliant. Deploying a strategy to police IM use will work to keep an organization compliant. Archiving IM interactions will further ensure it, as well as help to develop a system to coach agents to compliant to regulations in the future.

Do not communicate sensitive information over IM
Depending on the industry, IM interactions may not be appropriate for every conversation. There will be a lot of sensitive information passed around. While this information may be pertinent to the conversation at hand, it may not be suitable to archive for later use.

With collaboration reporting and recording from ISI and Verba Technologies, users can preselect keywords or portions of an IM interaction that shouldn’t be archived. In essence, a customer can share personal information with an agent, but that personal information will be censored out of the archived version of the transcript.

Always remember that instant messages can be archived
IM has long been a mode for casual conversation. Many employees may think chatting with customers or coworkers via IM is a chance to let down their guard. The majority of compliance issues stem from users not realizing that IM interactions are archiveable in the same manner as an email.

This works both ways. Customers can easily copy and paste, or screenshot an incriminating IM transaction. Because of this, it is vital that all users are cognizant that their conversations will be archived.

With the increase in legislation being passed to enforce IM compliance and requiring archiving – such as Sarbanes-Oxley and Dodd-Frank – organizations can take a proactive approach to their IM strategy while reaping the benefits of having the technology implemented in their environment.

Remember to keep IMs simple and to the point, and never compromise the integrity of your organization.

Has your company integrated IMs for business conversations? Moreover, if so, do you have a sound strategy for archiving these interactions for compliance and training purposes?
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