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Great Slack bots for small businesses
October 3, 2019
Productivity has never been so fun
Chances are pretty good that you’re already using Slack, which has established itself as a small business favorite—the majority of its users are SMBs, who describe it as being the “most innovative” collaboration app out there. But are you taking advantage of Slack’s deep roster of productivity bots to make your life easier? Productivity bots use AI to automate tasks that you’d normally do yourself, freeing you up from dealing with organizational minutiae and letting you get your actual work done. The best ones have clever, entertaining user interfaces too (and who wouldn’t like their job to be a little more entertaining?).
Since Slack bots (a subset of Slack apps) work off Slack’s APIs, they have a wide range of capabilities. You can browse the hundreds of bots already available or build your own if you have something specific in mind. Here are a handful of bots worth checking out.
For instant IT support feedback
The latest polling bots have richer features that go way beyond “Where should we go for lunch?” one-off polls. Polly, which got lot of buzz a couple years ago for its Snapchat teen polling app, can be used by IT teams to measure how successfully each help ticket was resolved after it closes. After an IT ticket is resolved Polly sends a survey to the customer to see how things went, giving the IT team customer service metrics that they wouldn’t have otherwise.
For scheduling meetings
Workers already spend two hours a week in pointless meetings—and they become an even bigger waste of time when a key stakeholder no-shows because they forgot to block off their calendar. Doodle Bot creates a poll that you can share across channels, via direct message, or via email for participants outside Slack. Pick a few possible times and see which one works best for everyone (and once you do set a time, remember to run your meeting effectively so they’ll come again).
For daily standup meetings
Daily stands are a fixture of every tech team’s morning—same time, same place, and everyone stands up to keep the meeting short. For remote teams in (sometimes vastly) different time zones, though, they can be a challenge. Geekbot and Standuply are bots that let your team run asynchronous standup meetings entirely within Slack, posting accomplishments and roadblocks on a rolling basis that people can review and address in their own time. (If you enjoy being on camera, Standuply also allows you to attach video messages.) They also keep a running list of deliverables that helps sprints run smoothly.
For PTO requests and shift management
Staying on top of your team’s vacation days, sick days and work-from-home days can be a huge time suck. TimeBot is a free bot that lets your team fill out a few questions and send it to you within Slack, then notifies the whole team once you approve it. Need to schedule tech support shifts on a weekly, daily or hourly basis? AttendanceBot offers additional options for time tracking and shift planning.
For team building
Building morale and trust improves productivity and collaboration across your organization (and it’s also just the right thing to do). Slack has a variety of bots that are designed to bring teams together and inject a little fun into your day. Lunch Train is a simple bot that you “hop on” to organize team lunches. Donut goes a step further and pairs up team members who don’t know each other well for a quick donut (or coffee, or kombucha…you get the idea) outing. And Birthdaybot collects a list of everyone’s birthdays and posts fun messages to celebrate; it’ll also give you a heads’ up a few days in advance of each birthday in case you want to bring in a cake (which a bot sadly can’t do…yet).
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