EXPERT ADVICE

Injecting That Personal Touch Into SMB Communications

In today’s economy, there are many tools designed for sustaining small and mid-sized businesses, such as services that host websites and programs for designing logos. Web conferencing — any service that allows virtual meetings between remote locations over the Internet — is a tool that an increasing number of companies find veryuseful.

Over the last few years, Web conferencing and online meetings software have taken off as communicationtools with several benefits, like reducing cost of travel and enabling long-distance meetings. One thing that Web conferencing software has done is allow SMB owners to apply a personal touch to their client relationships, regardless of time, location and even cost.

The personal touch isn’t something that’s easilyduplicated. Studies show that 55 percent of communication is physical. Hand motions and facial expressions all cometogether to paint a picture that many say is essential.

So how do we provide this personal touch, not only in scheduled meetings but during day-to-day collaboration?

Large companies have the cash to implement full-scale business video platforms that are not possible for a smaller business. However, SMBs can’t afford to wait. It is of crucial importance in today’s fast business world that SMBs create a closerelationship with their customers.

As human beings, we make connections through interaction and emotions, butan emotion is not easily detected through a phone call or an email. With Web conferencing, an SMB owner can seewhether a client or colleague is happy, sad, frustrated, excited or upset.

The State of Web Conferencing and SMBs

What we’re seeing today is that the lines are blurring between scheduled Web conferences and the desire to meetquickly and on the fly with customers and co-workers, wherever they are.

Today, businesses thrive on the collaboration of their employees with one another and the collaboration ofemployees with customers. Whether it be projects, documents or brainstorms — collaboration is a must.

Web conferencing is a tool that is being used to achieve this. Many SMBs have discovered the value ofspontaneous online meetings. Video provides apersonal touch, and advanced Web conferencing software allows for further capabilities, such as screen sharing and the ability to work on the same document in real time on a variety of devices, providing an SMB with complete remote collaboration.Consider what SMBs are doing even now:

  • Telecommuting is the wave of the future. SMBs are using collaboration and Web conferencing solutions for many reasons: to work with freelancers on temporary assignment with the company; to accommodate an important employee who must stay home to take care of children; to address a lack of office space; to avoid bad weather conditions; or to search beyond commuting distance to find qualified employees.
  • Training new employees is expensive, especially if the employees are spread globally, which can become areality for small companies. Many SMBs have limited resources compared to a large corporation. Ratherthan using these resources to send trainers to get things up and running, the company conducts alltraining in real time from the head-office via Web conferencing.
  • A lot of SMBs use Web conferencing to sell physical products, such as cast iron parts. Salespeople travelto demonstrate their products to potential customers. Considering they won’t always make the sale,the process gets very costly. By using Web conferencing, an SMB can demonstrate itsproducts easily via webcam or in a PowerPoint presentation to multiple clients throughout the day.

Web conferencing combines collaboration through video with the personal touch. Advancedsolutions go beyond simple video, allowing for screen sharing and full interactivity, just as if the team were in one room. This results in a more streamlined process without emails going back and forth. These companies are on the cutting edge of how we are seeing people operate.

The Future for SMBs

Although a growing number of SMBs are currently using Web conferencing for situations such as training, clientmeetings and working from home, the future will unfold an entirely different layer for Web conferencing amongsmall and mid-sized businesses.

This technology is slowly being adopted in large enterprises with big budgets. However, in the future, this trend is likely to increase dramatically in small businesses.

Currently, a Web conference must be set up and all members of a given party must agree on a meeting time.As these technologies become easier to use, Web conferencing will become so seamlesslyintegrated into our everyday lives that we’ll be able to collaborate at the click of a button. Just as easily as we nowsend an email or make a phone call, we’ll be able to meet online with a customer or colleague.

Some advantages that an SMB may have over a large corporation are proximity to customers, personalrelationships, trust, flexibility and speed. Web conferencing and online meetings software fulfill these pointsand support the needs of any small or mid-sized business.

Along with ROI and saving travel costs, Web conferencing supports a humaninteraction that every SMB can use to set its business apartfrom the next.

A Web conference will allow people to exchange information or meet a milestone more quickly. A Webconference will foster relationships among SMBs and their clients, increase trust and communication, and evenprovide customers with a sense of ease because they can actually see the person they’re talking to as opposed to hearing a distant voice on a line.

It is more than just using another communication tool; it is about creating that personal touch between an SMB and its customers. Given the features of today’s advanced Web conferencing solutions, it is clear that thistype of software naturally supports the nature of SMBs. Rather than seeing it as a simple businessapplication, SMBs will integrate Web conferencing into everyday life and foster human interactions that are notlimited by any boundary.

Holger Felgner is general manager of TeamViewer.

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