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The Small Business Guide to Staying in Touch

Ansaback

Whether you are managing a business of your own that you recently started or if you are thinking of starting your own company, understanding the importance of staying in touch with clients, customers and business associates at all times can ultimately mean the difference between failure and success. When you want to build credibility and your professional reputation in any industry, understanding the tools available today that are most useful for communication can help to get you started on the right track.

Skype-LogoSkype

One of the most popular methods of communicating today for both personal calls and business-related calls includes Skype. Skype is a free downloadable program or application for computers, mobile phones and even tablet devices. Using Skype is highly recommended when you are looking for a quick application to connect with clients, customers and even those you work with each day.

The basic uses and functions of using Skype are entirely free of cost, allowing you to call other users who also have Skype accounts without any charges. However, if you are interested in making international calls or calls to direct phone numbers, it is possible to invest in a plan from Skype itself in addition to also adding credits to your Skype account, allowing you a set number of minutes available to make outbound calls to other clients and customers.

Skype has expanded its business model over the past decade, making it one of the most reliable calling tools available worldwide today. Using Skype with clients and customers who have an account themselves is ideal if you are looking to connect with others from around the world.

When you use Skype, it is also possible to do so with co-workers and other employees, giving you the ability to scale to the size of your business. Although it is possible to use Skype in a larger business setting, it does not provide an intricate management system for customer service, which may make it difficult to track clients, calls and previous attempts to assist individuals.

Pros of Using Skype

  • Skype is free to use when calling all other individuals who have an account with Skype, regardless of their location as well as your own.
  • Skype gives you the ability to make both video and audio calls to fit your customer’s own needs when contacting you. It is also possible to have text-based chats with customers and clients rather than connecting with microphones and headphones.
  • Skype allows you to add clients and customers to your own contacts, giving you the ability to track anyone you communicate with regularly to monitor calls, texts and all contact attempts.

Cons of Using Skype

  • If your customers and clients do not use Skype, you may be required to pay to make outbound calls to connect with them.
  • Skype is not always reliable when connecting with users, so experiencing dropped calls may occur regularly depending on your Internet connection as well as the current state of the program itself.

Google-Hangouts-LogoGoogle Hangouts

Google Hangouts is another tool that is free of charge and accessible for users internationally, regardless of your location and the location of your customer or client. Using Google Hangouts is a great way to have a text-based chat conversation or to connect using microphones, video or both simultaneously. Hosting a video chat with any client, customer or business associate is a way for you to have one-on-one meetings with any individual interested in your business or what it has to offer. When you host video meetings with clients and business associates, it is much more personable and becomes easier to create a genuine connection.

Google Hangouts provides a reliable setup that allows any users on tablets, mobile phones or even their desktops and laptop computers to connect with other users of Google and Google + itself. The downside of using Google Hangouts as your only source of communicating with users and clients is that not everyone is registered with Google +, which may cause you to lose potential business or communication opportunities. Ensuring you have additional methods of contact and communication aside from Google + or a single method of getting in touch is essential when you want to excel in business, regardless of the industry you are working in or representing.

Using Google Hangouts on a larger scale is also possible whether you are working in a business with less than 5 employees or more than 50. When you want to use Google Hangouts in a larger business, it is possible to keep track of conversations with various customers, labeled with their name and including any history or discussions in the past you have had with one another. It is possible to create different groups with Google + and Google Hangouts, allowing you and your employees or co-workers to ensure they are capable of keeping track of all customers, clients and business associates without confusion.

TelephoneMobile Communication

Mobile communication is still a common option for businesses to stay in touch with any potential clients, customers or those they are working with together in business themselves. Using traditional mobile lines requires you to find a plan that works for you and the number of calls you expect each month. Additionally, you may also need to supply individual phones for any employees you want to communicate with your clients or customers, which is often more expensive than investing in an integrated system or setup for the office or workplace you are in.

Mobile communication, although more personal and direct, is more difficult to scale if you are allowing employees and business partners to connect with clients and customers using their own phones. Without a system in place, it can be difficult to track, record and monitor calls between your clients, customers and those you are working with each day. Mobile communication, however, is more widespread, giving you access to more customers and clients regardless of the demographic or audience you are trying to appeal to and reach.

Pros of Traditional Mobile Communication

  • Using mobile phones for business is a way to quickly connect with just about anyone, regardless of whether you are calling an application, a direct phone line or even an Internet-based phone number, giving you access to a wider range of clients, customers and potential business associates.
  • Tracking phone calls along with organizing and storing client and customer information is simple with the use of smartphones and apps when using mobile phones for communication in business.
  • It is now possible to host both traditional calls, conference calls and even video chats with the use of mobile phones depending on the device you are using and the devices your customers and associates are using.

Cons of Traditional Mobile Communication

  • The cost of using mobile phones for all employees within a business setting may be more expensive than investing in a landline service for business or a VOIP system setup.
  • Mobile communication eliminates the ability to connect with users online via text or chat, which may limit the level of support you are capable of providing to those interested in your company and the products or services it has to offer.
  • Connecting and communicating with internationally-based customers, business partners, associates and clients is much more expensive than with the use of an Internet-based tool or online VOIP service. If you work with international customers and individuals regularly, seeking an alternative to mobile communication within your company is highly recommended.

Investing in VOIP or a Landline?

Determining whether using a landline or VOIP, also known as voice over Internet protocol, can be done by first understanding what each option provides for you and those you work with each day in addition to the level of communication that is available for any customers or clients you work with regularly.

Investing in a landline for your business is highly recommended whether you are working with a start up company or if you have a business that is expanding and has multiple employees working already. When you have a landline service, it is possible to scale for larger volumes of calls with the proper business service and setup, depending on the number of lines you are in need of, the number of calls you expect daily and the current number of employees you have working with you.

Pros of Investing in a Landline

  • Landlines make it simple to communicate with a wide range of customers, clients and business associates, as it is possible for them to call you utilizing different tools and communication services with ease.
  • Tracking incoming and outbound calls is simple with landlines with the use of online or printed bills with extensive phone records and data information.
  • Landline services are inexpensive and can be expanded within workplaces, allowing all of your employees to work with their own specific line throughout the day, improving workplace efficiency and productivity.
  • It is much easier to monitor and record landline calls, especially when implementing a business-related landline service from a company that provides services for new or growing companies.
  • Landlines are one of the most reliable tools to use when in need of a method of communication with any individual, whether you are in need of contacting a customer or if you need to host conference calls with potential business partners or associates.
  • Landlines are ideal for any emergency situation, especially involving the loss of other methods of communication or in the case of a natural disaster. Having a landline in place within your office building or workplace is a way for you to have an addition method of contacting anyone if you are in distress or in need of communication with an outside source.

Cons of Investing in a Landline

  • Investing in a landline service is often more limited than when working with Internet-based or VOIP services for companies, giving you restricted options and plans for the number of calls you are capable of making and receiving monthly or annually.
  • Landlines are also more limiting in terms of their location, as it is not possible to connect with users online with the use of your landline phone or system setup.
  • Paying for a landline service is more expensive than finding a VOIP system or service that is free of charge. Although you are required to pay for a landline service, the reliability and uptime guarantee is often much higher than other services and tools used for communication within small businesses today.

Pros of Investing in VOIP

  • Connecting with customers and clients has never been easier as it is possible to do so remotely with the use of mobile phones, computers, laptops and desktop computers, regardless of the operating system or setup you are using.
  • It is possible to make calls for free when utilizing the Internet and routing it with the current mobile or Internet service plan you have in place for your business or place of work.
  • Using VOIP has become even more popular if you need to host conference calls with multiple users simultaneously, even when located out-of-state or in different countries.
  • It is now possible to invest in new phone hardware and equipment that is suitable for both VOIP phone calls as well as landline calls and communication, making it easier than ever to stay in touch with any client or business associate that is involved with your business.
  • If you are in need of making international calls regularly, VOIP is an ideal choice as it is often much more affordable or free of charge altogether when communication with anyone, regardless of location.

Cons of Investing in VOIP

  • It is impossible to predict the reliability of a VOIP connection or line, especially because you are utilizing your own Internet connection to help with routing any incoming and outgoing calls. The overall quality of the connection you have when making or receiving calls depends greatly on your Internet connection and the service you are provided each day.
  • Although VOIP is free for all users who are also utilizing the same VOIP service, they are not free if you are calling another individual without a VOIP service or without using the same service exactly, which can make it more expensive when communicating with clients or customers who are not using your VOIP service. Because not all clients, customers and business associates are not likely to utilize VOIP themselves, finding a package deal is highly recommended if you want to use the option in your own business workplace or office.
  • If you are not familiar with VOIP or if you have very little experience, setting up the service, installing VOIP and training for employees and those who are working in small businesses is often extremely expensive. If you are unsure of how to go about working with VOIP and if you are on a tight budget, comparing your options ahead of time is a way for you to determine if VOIP is a viable solution for your current business plan and needs.
  • Consider the reliability of your current Internet service and the downtime you can expect to experience on a monthly basis before implementing a VOIP system or service setup in your office. When you lose connection to your Internet access, you will also experience downtime with any telecom systems you have in place for your business, dropping any potential connections or communication you have with your clients, business associates and other individuals interested in your company. It is imperative to ensure you have a backup system in place to allow customers and associates alternate methods of contact if your VOIP system is down for any reason at any time.
  • Always implement a high level of security if you choose to use a VOIP system for communication within your office workplace or throughout your entire business. When you use VOIP on all of your computers and systems in place, it is more likely that your company may become a target of a potential hacking or attempt to install potentially harmful and malicious software, malware and specific computer viruses. Working with a security team, hiring professionals and installing anti-virus protection on all of your company’s computers is essential any time you plan to use VOIP on all of your network’s computers and devices, regardless of the number of lines you are implementing.

Understanding the benefits of various tools available for communication with clients, customers and those you want to work with is a way for you to ensure you are capable of delivering customer support and business calls whenever necessary. Staying in touch with individuals who help your business grow as customers, investors or business partners is a way for you to not only help improve your professional relationships altogether, but it also assists with potentially generating more revenue in the future.

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Posted on March 17, 2014 @ 10:10 pm by Ansaback

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