Folks used to call those types “Road Warriors,” and the elite group consisted of a few in the company that operated out there in the big scary world with limited ties to the office. As long as they brought in the numbers, they were just set free with little supervision.
Since the number of people outside the office is increasing (and fast), there is a need to increase the lines of communication. The great thing is that better communication is right at our fingertips.
Business Tools to Increase Communication
The face of business is changing, but there are some great business tools that any company can adopt that can bring a little more of that personal touch.
VOIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol)
If you are looking for freedom, VOIP gives you some great options. These are essentially phones that run over your internet. They can function much in the same way that your regular old phone works. Multiple lines, auto-answering menus, and voicemail.
The advantage is that you can send a phone to pretty much anywhere and it will be like the person is in the office right next door. Some providers even have programs that allow you to talk on your notebook or desktop.
Video Chat: Skype, FaceTime
Those little cameras are everywhere these days. You can be on site, and connect with people somewhere else. It puts a face to a name and it can allow you to remotely show details that might otherwise be hard to describe.
Video cameras come installed on most notebooks, smartphones, and tablets these days, with free 1-to-1 calls with almost any service. Think outside the box and this technology can really help.
CRM: JobNimbus (shameless plug)
A customer relationship management program is essential to keeping things from “falling through the cracks.” In fact, if anyone ever gives an excuse that “it just fell through the cracks,” a CRM is the remedy.
Tracking interactions with customers, storing important job data, scheduling, and invoicing can all be done from the same place. Road warriors and office folks can always stay current with real-time updating. Don’t skip this one.
Instant Messaging: iMessage, What’s App
Quick responses in the field don’t need to be something that relies solely on phone calls. In fact, often phone calls take more time out of the day because of the idle chit chat that happens. Messaging (especially with texting charges or limits) can help you stay on topic and concise.
A quick question can be returned with a quick answer.
Apps: My Measurements & Dimensions
Smartphones and tablets are highly mobile and highly functional. There are all sorts of industry-specific apps, from mobile versions of your CRM, to measuring tools, to sketching tools.
Finding what is needed and standardizing on it company-wide helps. It give more opportunity for support within the same company, and allows for the planning of best practices in a process.
Webinar (or online meeting software): Join.Me, GoToMeeting
If a PowerPoint or live demo will help clarify a message, then jumping on one of these programs aught to drive the message home to a prospective client, or to help train a new employee through recorded training sessions.
Social Media: Facebook, Twitter, Google+
All the kids are doing it. Social media is a great way to share the things that a company is working on along with projects they have completed. It is a great place to share information with existing and potential clients. It is also useful for getting discovered and running promotions. Give it a try. It isn’t just for teenagers.
Stay Connected and Productive
There are all sorts of examples of business tools in each of these categories. One thing to consider is whether or not you can give them a trial run or not. Kick the tires. Figure out the company’s needs. Don’t get sold on unnecessary gimmicks and features that will just clutter the work process.
Technology is there to enhance the experience and the work process. Don’t fight it, but don’t settle. Get comfortable and then launch it into your company.