In the past, meetings had a particular look and feel to them. Your team would gather around the conference table under the promise of stale pastries and a cup of tea. Today, the rise of virtual meetings has revolutionised how we carry out our day-to-day business activities. And video chat apps are the tech that has facilitated this change, making it easy for teams to collaborate and work anywhere.
So far, conferencing apps like Skype and Zoom have been the go-to of many people adjusting to a more remote style of working. However, are these the best options for you?
Now is the time to start investing in a video app that works for your business in the long term. This guide will help you find the right fit for your needs.
What is a video chat?
Just in case you missed the memo on virtual face-to-face meetings, let’s go over what we mean by “video chat”. It’s an online visual communication that is performed over the internet using a webcam and dedicated software.
The terms “video call”, “video conference”, and “video chat” are used interchangeably today. However, video chat used to mean one-on-one visual communication between two people over the internet.
For video chat to work, the two people need to be using the same dedicated software and have a functional camera and microphone. Today, video chat services usually include text-based messaging. There is even auto-caption technology that makes video chatting more accessible than ever.
Social media, via apps like Snapchat and Facebook Messenger, has made us accustomed to interacting with our cameras. Video chat is now a staple in most of our lives and it is here to stay.
What are the benefits?
The power of video calling presents numerous advantages for organisations. From engaging remote workers through more effective collaboration to being cost-effective and scalable, it can make your business more efficient.
Let’s take a look at some of these benefits of video chat.
There is no longer a need to come into the office just for a meeting. You can connect with suppliers, clients, and team members from anywhere in the world in real-time. This saves you and the people you’re meeting time with because you no longer have to meet in a physical space.
Gone are the days of going to a conference room, waiting for everyone to show up, and slowly making your way back to your desk. With the click of a button, the meeting starts. If someone is running late, you can continue to work at your desk until the participants join.
Humans process visual information quicker and more accurately than group messaging and voice calls. When you talk over video, you can retain more information and understand it more effectively. In a text-only group chat, your team can skim the feed and miss vital information. This leads to costly failures in communication.
In traditional meetings, it can be difficult to gather everyone at the same place at the same time. With video conferencing, you no longer need to have everyone in the same place. All your team requires is a device and access to wi-fi.
This translates to better attendance rates. You can also record the meetings, so those not available can watch asynchronously.
Higher employee retention
Using video chat apps for meetings allows you to provide your team with more flexibility in their workday. It’s no secret that a positive work/life balance translates to higher employee retention. Giving employees more control over their workday means they are more likely to stay with your company.
Top video chat features to have over the next decade
You may be thinking: “Aren’t all video chat apps the same?” Not quite. While most video chat apps may seem similar at first glance, that isn’t the case.
Many of the apps you have interacted with, especially the free versions, were created for personal use. During the pandemic, apps like Houseparty and Heads Up! have let people connect virtually. Others, like Google Duo, WhatsApp, and FaceTime, have also kept us connected to the ones we love the most.
They are great for calling your mother, sister, and friends but maybe inadequate for business, often missing the crucial features that will make your video chatting effective in the professional world.
Here are the top video chat features to look out for over the next decade.
Features that encourage meaningful collaboration
Now that remote work is becoming an office staple, it is more important than ever to leverage software that will keep your team connected. A successful video meeting encourages collaboration and connection among your team.
Here are a few features that help make your team more collaborative:
Scheduling options: This feature allows you to easily send invites to your meeting. It can send out reminders or send a notification when the meeting starts.
Screen-sharing: A vital part of effective meetings is sharing visual information. This feature makes giving a presentation simple. For example, RingCentral lets you share your screen with one click.
Call recording and logging: This gives you and your team the ability to review group calls and keep meaningful notes.
No time limits: Don’t put a timer on your collaboration. Look for a solution that does not limit the amount of time you can spend on a group video chat.
Security and privacy
You’d expect an in-person meeting to be private and confidential, and you should expect no less from your video conferences. While not all your meetings might be sensitive, there is a chance that customer or company information is discussed.
The security and privacy of you and your team should not be something you have to think about every time you start a meeting. However, consider the phenomenon of “Zoombombing” – that time in 2020 when uninvited people were popping up in video meetings. People not thinking about security and privacy resulted in leaks of information.
Ease of use
Getting an entire organisation to embrace new tech can be daunting. Some people are not as savvy in terms of software as others. This means you must look for a video chat app that has excellent functionality and is easy to use.
These apps should also work seamlessly with your existing business tools – integrations are important for most of your business software. Look for video chat tools that integrate with your company’s email or team messenger app to prevent you jumping around different platforms. For example, video tools like RingCentral integrate with platforms like Slack.
Ease of use is also important when chatting to customers. You want a solution that doesn’t force customers to put in the effort to connect with you. For example, with RingCentral, you can access the meeting through your desktop, Android, or iOS. Joining does not require your customers or vendors to download anything or create a unique login to join a call.
Now that you’ve heard all the benefits and features to look for in a video chat app, let’s talk about the best solution for your business: RingCentral Video.
It has the highest standards in call quality and functionality. With this software, your team can connect from their mobile devices, via the mobile app, and computers with macOS or Windows via the app or directly through their web browser.
All your participant has to do is click a link to join the meeting. You can even join on the go with the “call me” button to automatically get added to the meeting. It’s easy to set up and manage with the full power of screen sharing and recording.
You can switch between your Mac and mobile if you feel inspired to switch it up mid-call. It also has comprehensive enterprise-grade security. This means that no matter where you take the call, you are secure.
Other video chat options
Now let’s get an overview of some other apps. Most of these have free video app versions, but often include app purchases to gain access to advanced features.
Google Hangouts is extremely popular for conference calls. It works from your iPhone, iPad, Android, or desktop with your web browser or mobile app.
It’s integrated with the rest of your Google apps but requires a Google account to work. People often struggle with call quality and they cannot join directly from their phone using a phone number.
Microsoft Teams is directed toward business users and integrates with the rest of the Microsoft 365 suite. It is easily downloaded from the app store from any Apple or Android device.
It allows conference calls and one-on-one meetings with additional features like background blur and custom backgrounds. It is a straightforward solution but can often be buggy, complex for new users, and have questionable call quality.
Zoom is also a great option for video conferencing. It is simple to join meetings and is relatively easy to use. It has screen sharing, hand-raising, and breakout rooms that are great for business.
However, people are not immune to “Zoom fails”, and outages and connection issues have plagued many of its users.
Which group video chat app is best for your team?
With so many options, how do you decide?
Some options are better than others, especially for doing business. Consider the features you should look out for and the options available to make the best decision for your business.
Either way, RingCentral’s business-first architecture, flexibility, security, and ease of use makes it the compelling choice for businesses looking for fast and reliable video meetings.
Originally published Jun 17, 2021, updated Apr 10, 2023
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