Small businesses. One man bands. Freelancers. Agents. They’ve never really been the common users of video conferencing. Why? Video Conferencing has always been aimed at larger businesses with larger budgets, where the benefits of productivity, efficiency, customer relationships, supply chain management and reduced global travel produce a huge return on investment… but only after a rather hefty upfront cost.
These days, we are seeing a shift. There has been a major shift in the way that video conferencing infrastructure can be provided, managed & scaled with virtualisation, the cloud and OpEx offerings. There has been a major shift in endpoint offerings, features & quality. And there has been a major shift in everyday thinking around using video.
Here we share some great examples of Small Business customers who utilise SMB video conferencing solutions to improve their business.
“As a freelance web designer, I work with many different clients around the UK which change on a monthly basis. These days I am using video conferencing software to communicate with my clients – I am saving hundreds of pounds just on travel costs each month which easily pays for my professional solution. It has no problem with firewalls or quality, so I can be anywhere, at any time and share my designs & plans face-to-face with my customers, wherever they are located.”
For many freelance customers, their ever changing client base provides the need to create new quality relationships regularly. They often also rely upon word-of-mouth referrals, which is highly influenced by the quality of the relationship in place during what could be a project just lasting a few weeks or months.
Q: But Shouldn’t these meetings be in person?!
A: In short, yes! Meeting in person is always going to be the best way to build a relationship. (And probably not the answer you were expecting!)
But video communication is not for replacing all your worthwhile in-person meetings. It’s for improving your faceless telephone calls. It’s for increasing the amount of face-to-face interaction you hold with your clients. It’s for getting those important answers, quickly, on your designs & ideas and really hearing, and seeing, what your clients think.
And for those cases where video could replace your face-to-face meetings, you can meet with several customers, across the breadth of the country, all in the same day.
“As a business with 15 people in two offices, we are pretty small. But we are playing in a large market. Our team needs the tools available to be able to communicate with our suppliers & clients quickly whilst being able to build solid customer relationships. Video Conferencing has greatly improved how we communicate as a business, and our team is twice as productive as it was previously.”
For all small businesses competing in a large market, the key is being agile, being fast & providing an exemplary customer service. Like this small business customer, video communications allows for fast sharing of information which enables the organisation to quickly address issues that may occur and solve the problem in an instant. Video Conferencing also allows the business to see customers, face-to-face, and build friendly & close relationships, that are just not possible over the phone or via email.
WebRTC & Cloud are Key
Up and coming technologies such as WebRTC, and the increase in lower cost professional video endpoints with cloud based infrastructure are providing small organisations with the perfect way to start utilising communication tools that were in the past only suitable for large businesses. This is enabling small teams to compete in bigger markets, and cover wider geographies than has been possible previously.
WebRTC is fast becoming key to providing simple connections from your customers to your organisation – without having to provide every customer or prospect a licence or client to use. WebRTC means your customers can click a single button in their web browser, without installing any plugins, and be instantly connected to you via video at your desktop, in your meeting room or on your mobile.
Without the high costs of on-premise infrastructure, cloud based video conferencing allows small organisations access to features such as multipoint (more than a 2 person call), recording & streaming, datasharing & collaboration, and ISDN facilities, that would have previously been only part of a package in the 10’s, or even 100’s of 1000’s of pounds – far too much for a start-up or small business. Now, all these features can be accessed with a relatively low cost endpoint in the meeting room – such as the Cisco SX10 or Lifesize Icon – that can provide the highest quality video meetings without the high price point.
Cisco SX10 video conferencing system enables small businesses to collaborate