Does your small business have what it takes to stay ahead in today’s take-no-prisoners marketplace? Most owners ask themselves this question every day. Fortunately, the latest business communication and collaboration technologies can give you a head start.
1) Have a vision
Did you know that up to 90% of human communications rely on non-verbal cues? Salespeople often call this “reading the room.” Now, many small businesses are calling it a must-have technology. Video conferencing allows salespeople to have the equivalent of in-person meetings without the cost and hassle of business travel. Teams can hold virtual meetings from anywhere. Or support representatives can show—rather than tell— customers how to diagnose and fix product issues. It can also give remote workers a sense that they are part of the larger team.
While HD video conferencing was once the stuff of Dick Tracy comics or science fiction, robust cloud communications solutions like RingCentral Office have brought it into the mainstream. With the cloud and today’s advanced codecs (video compression technologies), it no longer requires expensive hardware or high bandwidth usage. In fact, with a free mobile app on their smartphones, your employees can use HD video conferencing from anywhere. And with RingCentral, it comes included in the monthly service fee for a comprehensive business communications service.
2) Stay on message
Did you know it takes the average person 90 minutes to respond to an email, but only 90 seconds to respond to a text message? Considering the almost addictive popularity and real-time effectiveness of SMS text messaging, it only makes sense to adopt it for your business. Your employees can more effectively engage with customers, and customers can reach out to your sales and support teams in their preferred method of communication. Even remind customers of appointments without the intrusiveness of a phone call.
You can also use SMS while maintaining your business identity. For example, RingCentral Business SMS, when used on a mobile device, bypasses the device’s native SMS and sends texts from a mobile app that uses your business number. When employees are back at their desks, they can send and receive texts directly from within common business productivity applications like Gmail and Salesforce. More effectively communicating via Business SMS can also speed collaboration among your employees, especially in an era of mobile workers.
3) Team up
Team messaging blends the speed of instant messaging with group communications. It evolved from how users naturally move beyond long emails threads to collaborations such as how users often share comments in Google Drive. On the desktop, new apps like RingCentral Glip take messaging from a pop-up box in the corner of the screen and bring it to the full screen.
This new work space offers context about what other collaborators are doing. Plus, teams can instantly share files, calendars, task lists, and other group resources. On a mobile device, the messaging capabilities of team messaging act as a more powerful and more secure alternative to SMS text messages or consumer chat apps. By giving your teams the ability to collaborate in real time in virtual meeting rooms, your business becomes more agile—and more competitive.
4) Get mobilized
What’s the first thing you do when you wake up in the morning? According to a recent study, 84% of smartphone owners check their phones within 15 minutes of the alarm clock ringing. As we all become hooked on staying connected anytime and anywhere, the notion of “work” as a place to go from 9 to 5 is changing. So how do you give your workers the power of a business phone system even when they are on the road? Unlike old-school PBX hardware, which was designed to serve users over hardwired networks within a building, the cloud is inherently suited to mobile.
A cloud service like RingCentral Office fully integrates remote workers into the business. The mobile app for iOS and Android transforms a mobile device into a full-featured business phone. Users don’t need to call into a number or wait to return to the office to check voicemail—notifications and access to the company voicemail system are right on their smartphones or tablets. They can also view the company directory to quickly locate and dial a coworker. Or, they can instantly join a conference call or online meeting by simply touching a link in a text message or email. And with RingCentral, users can join web meetings and video conferences right from their phones. Better still, customers reach your mobile workers by calling a business number, and mobile workers send and receive calls and SMS texts from a business number—not their personal cell numbers.
So whether you are competing with a big company or trying to keep a small business rival out of your turf, turn to the latest communications and collaboration technologies. So as you make resolutions to be more competitive in the new year, explore how these four tools will keep your workers more connected, and keep you in the lead.
Originally published Dec 29, 2016, updated Aug 12, 2020