When you work with multiple clients, communicating is about more than saying hello in the mornings – it’s about staying organized, keeping on top of deadlines and about being able to quickly respond as needed. This is not only relevant for freelancers but for all kinds of professionals and even just normal people.
Sounds pretty straightforward – until you have half a dozen or more clients that want to communicate in different ways. Some may prefer Skype while others use Slack, WhatsApp or even Facebook Messenger. There are literally hundreds of different communication apps out there, and the more clients you have, the more of them you will need.
That’s where things get tricky – keeping track of multiple conversations is tough enough without needing to keep two dozen tabs pinned to your browser at all times, or with that many apps open on your phone – that’s just not feasible long-term.
Luckily, there are solutions to this problem – others who have had the same problem but more coding knowledge have built software solutions for this. We tested two of them, and we were impressed!
Created by Stefan Malzner, an Austrian product designer, Franz is named after an Austrian emperor. That’s pretty promising if a little random – we tested the completely free service and found it to be pretty solid.
Franz lets you keep multiple chats and messaging services in one stand-alone application. You can add however many services you need, be it Slack, WhatsApp, WeChat, HipChat, Messenger, Telegram, Hangouts, GroupMe, Skype or more to the app, and access them all directly.
You only need to log into each service once, and Franz keeps your conversations ready for when you need them. Currently available for Windows, Mac, and Linux, Franz is ideal if you need to keep track of your conversations in multiple locations. You can sync multiple devices, and even multiple accounts on the same platform – do you need to keep open three different Facebook Messenger accounts? No problem, and no need to constantly log out and back in again.
The only (minor) complaints we have about Franz is that it doesn’t support every messenger service out there yet, and it doesn’t let you add your own. The software does support a lot of messaging services, but there is a chance yours may not be among them. Franz is continually expanding the list of services it offers, so there is every chance yours will be added soon anyway!
Rambox is the second service we tested, and this is the one we stuck with. It offers the same basic functionality as Franz – you can keep open multiple conversations, accounts, and apps all at once, with a notification counter that simply adds together all your unread messages into one overall number.
What made us choose Rambox over Franz? Well, both offer the same basic (and free) service, however, Rambox allows users to add their own services if the one they need isn’t among the dozens and dozens that are already supported. In fact, as long as the thing you want to add is web-based and has a URL, you can keep any sort of service open in Rambox. If you need Dropbox open alongside your communication apps, for example, that’s not a problem at all, simply add a custom service and log in.
The only small issue with Rambox is that it was developed by a team of non-English speakers, and some of the documentation and information about it is a little hard to understand. If that is not an issue for you, there is really no downside to Rambox.
If you’re looking for more open source software, you can also have a look at this article: 70+ Open Source & Free Software Solutions You Need to Check Out
Both services allow you to keep multiple iterations of the same service, be it Skype, Facebook Messenger or anything else, which makes both a solid choice for individuals or small teams with advanced communication needs.
Both programs are also open-source and offer full encryption and data protection – you don’t need to worry about your information being misused like that.