October 12, 2022

Why you shouldn’t use Slack to work with customers and prospects

Matt Compton

Co-Founder & CEO

Slack is a great product.  It is hands down the best team chat product that exists today. 

But more and more companies are using it outside of their team. They are leveraging Slack to:

  • Collaborate with prospects
  • Support and grow customers
  • Facilitate and build partnership
  • Run strategic initiatives
  • Provide updates to other functions

Why? Well, I get it:

  • It is easy: Slack is easy, well known, and requires little effort to spin up a new channel
  • It exists: They likely already pay for it.  
  • People are there: People already live in Slack all day long

However, as good as Slack is as a team chat product, it is a terrible solution for working with other teams and companies.

Why is Slack the wrong choice for working outside your team?

Slack focuses on chat, not the people

When you are working with your team, you know who everyone is. You know who is in charge, what people’s strengths and weaknesses are, and who to go to for specific questions or issues as they arise. When working outside your team, this foundation is largely missing. Within Slack it is almost impossible to know who is leading the charge, who is responsible vs a viewer, who the executive sponsors are. More importantly, it becomes very difficult to learn from each other, and build relationships across the team.

Slack encourages an expectation of immediacy

Part of knowing everyone on your team is also understanding their routines, their family situations, and what is important to each other personally. Therefore, when working within your team it is much easier to trust each other to respect boundaries, to know unspoken expectations, or understand when people do not immediately respond to questions. However, with customers and prospects, encouraging a sense of being always on and fostering an expectation of immediate response can be unhealthy at best and toxic at worst.

Difference in style and etiquette can lead to misunderstandings and uncomfortable situations

Teams generally have their own style and behavioral expectations. When leveraged successfully, these norms and expectations across a team serve an incredibly important role in streamlining communication and building strong relationships and cultures. However, without this trust and established set of expectations and understanding, teams can easily find themselves in uncomfortable or even harmful situations. Within chat specifically, simple word tone or giphy use can quickly offend others and erode trust that is incredibly valuable in a strong partnership.

Slack undermines the true strategic value in a relationship

Slack encourages short form, non-strategic, low value interactions. Important, value focused interactions are quickly lost in banter, quick tactical questions, small gripes and feedback, or even playful giphys.  As a result, the majority of the dialog tends to be non-strategic … eroding the value of the relationship altogether.

Lack of a home or North Star for the initiative

Because Slack is so basic and limiting (a single chat channel with little to no information design), it forces much of the valuable interactions and information to reside elsewhere. Valuable content lives in emails, documents, project plans, landing pages, file sharing, and other applications used by the various teams and companies. To make things worse, while Slack is not able to serve as the strategic war room, it can easily trick people into appearing that it is in fact serving that purpose.  Therefore, strategic interactions are actually left without a North Star, further erode their progress and effectiveness.


There is a common saying that when you have a hammer, everything looks like a nail. Slack is one of the best hammers that exist for team communication and collaboration. However, the work we do outside our team (whether it be prospects, customers, partners, or other internal functions) is the most valuable work that any organization or team can do. 

Unfortunately, just because it works with teams doesn’t mean it is a good solution for working outside your team. The world needs better solutions for working in these situations. At Filo, we believe we are building one.