You don't have to connect with your customers in the flesh to keep your business running smoothly--as many business owners have already discovered during the current coronavirus crisis. Though there are many obstacles in your way, there are still plenty of strategies you can use to connect with your clients and advance your business, even when you have no choice but to work remotely in order to accomplish your goals.
Not only can you find remote strategies that will aid you during the current public health emergency, you may discover new strategies that you adopt as a normal part of your business plan.
5 Ways to Streamline Your Business to Work and Collaborate Remotely
- Embrace Video
- Ramp Up Your Focus on Your Website
- Embrace Collaboration Tools
- Utilise Planning Tools
- Use Cloud Storage for Documents
1. Embrace Video
Now, more than ever, many companies--and individuals--are discovering the benefits of video. There are many platforms available that can make it easy for you to connect with your team remotely for webinars, training sessions, online meetings, and more. There are plenty of platforms available:
Google Hangouts: Google Hangouts allows for everything from webinars and training sessions to virtual face-to-face meetings.
Skype: Skype allows for easy one-on-one meetings between you and your clients or coworkers. You can also put together conference calls that will allow you to bring in multiple people for your meeting.
Go to Meeting : Go to Meeting provides easy video call and conference options that are highly connective and easy to manage. Go to Meeting is a preferred solution for many businesses and business owners, since it offers a high degree of connectivity and ease of use.
Zoom: Zoom allows easy screen sharing as well as permitting the members of your team--or your clients--to video chat with ease.
Thanks to the advance of technology over recent years, 'remote' doesn't have to mean that you can't meet face-to-face with team members and clients alike. There are multiple options available that make training, connection, and meetings simple even when your team can't be physically together.
2. Ramp Up Your Focus on Your Website
Your website has always been one of the most effective tools you have at your disposal for connecting with your clients. In many ways, your website is no different from a digital business--and you can use those tools to connect with your customers now more than ever. As you make the shift to remote collaboration and connection, use your website as the tool it's designed to be. Make sure that you include:
A comprehensive client support area for your website.
Allow users to put in tickets or connect with virtual support staff, all from the comfort of their own homes. Give them the opportunity to connect with you or the tools they need to answer their questions on their own.
Include an FAQ section.
When they're able to access your physical location, your clients are likely to bring in their products and ask key questions. When you make the shift to a remote platform, however, they need your website to answer as many of their questions as possible. Put together a comprehensive FAQ section that deals with the questions your customers ask the most commonly.
Add in instructions and procedures.
Highlight even common procedures for your company. Keep in mind that you may end up with new customers during this time who have never had the opportunity to interact with your business before. They need to know your plans and exactly what you're doing to keep your business running remotely--not to mention how they will connect with you.
Highlight new things that your business is doing to make remote operation possible. Show how you're continuing to support your clients remotely--and even how you're able to offer better service and support to your customers thanks to those remote operations and tools.
3. Embrace Collaboration Tools
There are a wide range of collaborative communication tools available that will allow your team to connect and collaborate in spite of the distance between you. Tools like Slack, Google Hangouts Chat, Microsoft Teams, and more will allow you to work with your team even when you're separated. Consider:
Ongoing water cooler chat with your coworkers.
It's not just about business. You want to maintain the same connection you've always had with your coworkers and continue building a company culture that makes your company a great place to work for.
Specific chats that allow you to work together on projects.
If you have questions, these tools allow you to easily place them in front of your coworkers and get the answers you need. Specific chats about projects also allow you to share ideas, discuss concerns, or work together to complete the different parts of your projects.
Bring in people outside your direct team when needed.
Not only do your collaboration tools allow you to connect with members of your team, programs like Slack can allow you to bring in other people to work on those same projects. Whether you need someone outside your team to offer expertise and advice or you want a client to be able to see the conversation, you can create guest accounts and temporary access that will allow those individuals to participate in the discussion.
Provide a clear trail of conversation and instructions.
Not only do your tools allow you to collaborate and communicate remotely, they can actually make it easier to track the conversation or refer back to previous discussions. You won't have to follow up with a coworker or connect with a client to get an answer that's already been given when it's already right there in your meeting notes.
4. Utilise Planning Tools
When you make the shift to remote work, planning becomes more critical. You can't just hurry down the hall and ask someone to quickly look over a document, and it may take longer to hear back from your coworkers directly, even when you're working on a deadline or have concerns that need an urgent answer. Your business should take advantage of planning tools like Asana, Trello, Wrike, or BookCamp to enable your business to scale and work more effectively with your clients through your remote sessions and strategies. These tools enable you to:
Clearly designate what each member of the team is supposed to be doing.
When you work remotely, it's easier to duplicate work or allow specific tasks and responsibilities to fall through the cracks, since it's harder to connect with other members of the team and learn what they're doing. Your planning tools, however, can make it easier for you to see exactly what each member of the team is supposed to be doing on each project.
Set clear deadlines.
Make sure your employees know exactly what your deadlines look like. Each piece of your projects may need to be completed at a specific time. Your planning tools can help you set and establish those deadlines so that your team members know when they need to turn in their work. Maintaining productivity when your team must work remotely is easier when you have clear deadlines in place and team members are aware of the expectations the company has for their performance.
Establish meetings ahead of time.
It may take more planning to arrange remote meetings and connections. With your planning tools, you can get a look at when those meetings will be needed and increase the odds that everyone can connect.
5. Use Cloud Storage for Documents
If your business isn't already using the cloud for your document storage needs, now is the time to make the switch. Cloud storage will allow each member of your team to easily access and make changes to needed documents, including contracts, project documents, and more. As you shift to cloud document storage, consider:
How to handle version control.
You may need employees to save new copies of some documents as they work on them, especially if several users need to access those documents at the same time.
How to control employee access.
You do not want to simply dump all your documents into the same storage area and allow every team member to access them. Instead, make sure you have levels of access and that employees cannot mistakenly open documents that they aren't supposed to be able to open--especially documents that deal with secure client data.
How your cloud storage provider handles backups.
Errors happen. Fortunately, many cloud providers already offer options that can help restore your documents from backups, which means that if a disaster does occur, you can more easily restore your work.
Making the shift to remote collaboration means streamlining your business and your processes. You may need to change the way you manage your employees, including your requirements for them or the way you document attendance. At the same time, remote work, collaboration, and connection can keep your business running smoothly even in times of crisis. In many cases, you'll find that you can deliver a higher quality of service to your customers without your employees having to leave their homes.
Want to learn how we can help you make that shift to remote work or deliver better service? Contact us today.
Keen to read more of our blogs on Videos? Here are a few.
10 Common Website Video Mistakes To Avoid
Top 10 Ways for Using Video on Your Website
How to create a great promotional video for your business website