7 useful communication tools to improve your business
Communication makes the world go round. If the various members of your business cannot talk to each other on demand, you will struggle to grow the business. The same applies if your clients can’t get in touch or you can’t contact your suppliers. No business exists in a vacuum, so good communication is critical. Luckily, technology makes communication very easy.
Video conferencing is ideal when not all meeting participants can be present in the same room. This often happens if you have overseas clients or your business has offices in multiple locations. Instead of spending money on travel costs ferrying people from one place to another, set up a video conferencing system instead. There are plenty of HD video conferencing software solutions to choose from, so find your nearest Cisco reseller and ask their advice.
GoToMeeting by Citrix is a simple and very easy to use web conferencing solution. It only takes one click to schedule a meeting via Outlook or Google. The application includes useful features such as screen sharing, meeting recording, and drawing tools. The basic model is cheap to subscribe to, but you can scale up if you need to include more people in your meetings.
OfficeSuite by Broadview Networks is a cloud based application that is accessible anywhere. The application offers video conferencing, a toll-free phone service, and various mobility features. You can set up incoming and outgoing telephone calls from any phone, which is perfect for hot desking employees. There is also a virtual voicemail feature, which will receive notifications from anywhere.
Fuze Meeting is very flexible. Users can share documents and present multimedia content, all in glorious high-definition. Anyone can collaborate in meetings via Fuze. The application is free to use for up to 25 participants and meetings can be scheduled via Outlook or Google Calendar. If you need to organize larger meetings, a pro plan is available.
For best results with video conferencing, go for a fully integrated communications system that works on multiple devices. This will allow video conference participants to dial in from mobile devices if necessary.
Basic versions of video conferencing software solutions are usually free, but if you want to host larger meetings and share applications, consider paying for a premium service.
Messaging apps make it easy to keep in touch with clients, suppliers and members of staff. Most people are used to using Skype, Facetime and WhatsApp to connect with friends and family, so it is hardly a leap of faith to extend these apps into the workplace.
Skype is a very popular workplace application, as it is free to use and therefore perfect for small businesses. Skype works fine as long as you have a decent internet connection, but if your connection is a bit below par, calls tend to drop out fairly regularly. Calls to other computers or devices are free, but if you add some credit to your account, you can also make calls to landlines and cell phones.
Google Hangouts is another handy application for small businesses. Google Hangouts lets you connect with up to ten people at a time. You can chat straight from your computer, make video calls, and send multimedia messages, in much the same way as you would with Skype. Google Hangouts lets you live-stream meetings and keep records of conversations. If you need to connect to more than ten people at a time, you can pay for a subscription.
Campfire is a good quality messaging service. It offers better security than generic chat applications, so you can collaborate with colleagues without fear of confidential data getting into the wrong hands. Campfire is a web-based chat application. Users access password protected chat rooms via any browser. Campfire offers video conferencing, image uploads, and a host of extra features. It works on all devices, including smartphones.
You could use a Facebook group to discuss things with colleagues, but it is a public forum and probably not the best place to be chatting about business related topics. Yammer works in a similar way, but you are able to create a virtual private social network for the business. The basic service is free to use, but if you need extra security or support, check out the premium packages.
There are many other communication tools available to small businesses, but don’t forget to make use of email as a way of keeping in touch. You could also pick up the telephone and do things the old-fashioned way.