Video conferencing can help companies increase collaboration and cut travel expenses, stress, and wasted time. High-end video conference systems are still an option for larger companies, but for smaller businesses with small business budgets, these options costing $30,000 and more are often out of reach. However, PC based video conferencing, especially those that allow multiple-user sessions (such as offered by Sightspeed) are quite affordable. All that you need is a web cam and a broadband connection to the Internet, and a download of the software.
Sightspeed suggests six ways you can use video conferences to increase productivity and save:
- Bring far-flung team members face to face. Geographically dispersed team members can still effectively meet face to face and improve their understanding of shared targets, strengthen collaboration, morale and satisfaction, and raise their productivity. Video meetings can be both formal (scheduled) or informal (spontaneous)—the latter being effectively the 21st century water cooler.
- Improve customer relationships. Personal interaction remains the most effective way to close sales. Studies have shown that effective communication with customers is a leading indicator of financial performance, resulting in higher market values and greater customer satisfaction. With sales territories expanding and quotas high, face-to-face contact via video conferencing can be among the most valuable—and cost-effective—tools for today’s sales professionals competing in a global marketplace.
- Meet more efficiently, make decisions quicker. Video conferencing enables SMBs to meet spontaneously with customers, suppliers or employees when necessary, not according to travel arrangements and schedules. Decisions can be timelier and more effective when the exchange of information and mutual understanding occurs face to face. Meetings are online and flexible, maximizing attendees’ availability and minimizing their attachment to a single room in a specific location.
- Raise employee enthusiasm and productivity. Video conferencing enables more frequent real-time face-to-face contact with individuals or groups of employees. A manager’s video e-mail to all members of a sales team can keep direct communication and motivation on a constant basis. A video e-mail from a manager to an employee with the message “Well done!” can strengthen the manager-employee relationship while building worker confidence and enthusiasm. And a video record of a meeting made available for replay to individuals or groups can raise employees’ sense of inclusiveness and shared accountability—especially those working remotely.
- Hire and retain employees more proficiently. By removing distance barriers, video conferencing empowers hiring managers to screen more eligible candidates, thereby raising the quality of potential hires. Interviewing candidates face to face by video conferencing has the dual benefit of saving the time and expense of candidates traveling great distances and being far more effective than phone interviews. Since SightSpeed Business is mobile, interviewing managers don’t have to be in a fixed location. Video conferencing also makes it possible for employees to work remotely, minimizing relocation cost and eliminating the potential loss of a key employee and the need to hire and train a new employee.
- Eliminate fixed investments for communications equipment. Compared to the cost of outfitting even a single room-based video conferencing system (which frequently costs tens of thousands of dollars if not more), PC based video conferencing wins hands down. SightSpeed Business cost less than $20 per month per user, or less than $200 per year (with volume discounts). And, it’s a quick and easy download of a “software as a service” application.
Laura Leites, Assistant Editor, Smallbiztechnology.com