Whilst the economy is now on the up for many companies, money’s still tight, and businesses are looking for ways to cut costs without negatively influencing their productivity. This is particularly true amongst SMEs who find they’re struggling to stay connected to remote workers and clients. Working from home is on the rise, and companies are having to go further afield for clients. This means that, above all, good communications are needed to hit deadlines and make sales.
A lot of companies, when the concept of videoconferencing is raised, will dismiss it because they consider it too expensive. In reality, videoconferencing can save businesses huge amounts of money. Whilst the upfront costs do mean an initial outlay for business grade products, the rising price of travel means that you will swiftly recoup that spending after a few months of centralised communication.
Reducing the amount your employees travel will also have a positive impact on your business’s carbon footprint, making your business more environmentally responsible AND saving you money. These alone are good enough reasons alone to consider videoconferencing, but there’s more.
The Personal Touch
It’s been suggested that centralising many of your business communications through videoconferencing means that you can save that money for the big, important face-to-face meetings that a business manager needs to have once or twice a year. This is certainly true, but it does videoconferencing a disservice in that it suggests you cannot have a personal experience without being in the same room.
Videoconferencing lets people, who might otherwise have spend their entire business relationship communicating through email and phone calls, talk face-to-face. A huge amount of our everyday communication is non-verbal, people are automatically more engaged when they can see who they’re talking to, and the job they’re doing immediately feels more social. Psychologically, the difference a videoconferencing setup can have on a company’s employees cannot be underestimated, especially if that company is making use of a lot of remote-workers.
Bringing Remote Workers Closer
Telecommuting is on the rise. It allows businesses to retain employees who they might otherwise have lost due to unavoidable family situations or unexpected life-changes. This is particularly important for SMEs who don’t want to lose an important member of their team, or spend large sums of money recruiting and training up new members of staff.
One problem with remote workers has always been a feeling of separation from the office environment. Often, central employees will only ever engage with these workers by email or telephone. By implementing videoconferencing you can make your remote workers feel like a part of the team, and also make it easier to integrate them into the central business should they ever return to the office environment?
Videoconferencing can also be great for businesses that are working across multiple locations. Not only does it make everyone working for your business feel like they’re part of a larger community, it can also reduce any confusion between departments and branches. Studies have shown that videoconferencing improves employee engagement by a significant amount. As a result, employees are less likely to make a mistake as a result of poor recall or misunderstanding.
Travel takes time. That much is obvious. By using web-conferencing you can talk to a different continent every hour with no additional cost. This not only saves you money, but opens up your business to international markets that you might have otherwise been unable to approach.
On a more local level, videoconferencing also makes it much easier to manage multiple sites because you can have a face-to-face meeting with each of your managers. Videoconferencing even solves the recurring problem of confused conference calls where you’re not exactly sure who’s speaking. This alone can save you five or ten minutes in an hour long conference.
Beyond travel, there’s the time lost from unavoidable incidents. Fire, natural disasters and sickness can have a severe impact on a business. Close to 80% of business affected by major incidents either don’t re-open or close within 18 months because they cannot keep up with their customers needs. Videoconferencing makes it possible for businesses to function even when the building they’re based in is out of action, potentially saving the entire business from going under.
Videoconferencing is regularly thought of as a tool for the big guns, but SMEs can implement it just as well and put themselves ahead of all their competitors. We’ve already talked about the increased reach afforded to a business by videoconferencing, but consider how much of an impact that reach has if your competitors are only working within the one country.
The ability to record, duplicate and replay any meeting hosted on a videocall is also invaluable for companies looking to get the most out of their time. Points that may have been missed the first time around can be caught on second viewing resulting in a more efficient process unclogged by employees double-checking facts with one another.
It’s no secret that customer support can be difficult. Communication over the phone or through email can be fractured or hard to understand. By implementing a visual element to your customer support and making it possible to troubleshoot ‘in person’ you can make a significant impact on customer satisfaction. Videoconferencing can also include screen-sharing and remote desktop functionality, making it possible for your company’s technicians to work on problems centrally, without the additional costs of making journeys out to those with problems unless it’s absolutely necessary.
It is possible to initially implement cheap (or sometimes, free) video conferencing solutions to businesses in the very early stages of growth. As that business grows and its requirements become more sophisticated, managers can implement the technology that is required. Gone are the days when you had to buy a ‘technology box’ with inflexible components. Now it’s much easier to build the infrastructure that your company needs today, whilst leaving yourself open to future changes.
Time to Switch
Videoconferencing has become much less expensive in the past few years, making it a much more viable option for SMEs looking to expand and compete in the larger market. Its flexibility means that it’s a welcome addition for almost all businesses.
Whether you’re supplying education, entertainment or resources, there is almost certainly a way your business could be enhanced through a well implemented communications infrastructure.