Video conferencing can boost relationships with customers and staff.
Google’s pretender to the throne of productivity suite software tends to look a little sparse next to the feature-heavy titleholder, Microsoft Office. However, Google includes one high-end feature which has the potential to dramatically improve the way your business functions.
Thanks to Google’s ownership of online video platform YouTube, the software giant has built free video chat into the Google Talk instant messaging platform that is part of its email program. It operates just like Skype built into Gmail. You can video call your contacts in your Gmail address book just by clicking on their icon in the Google Talk window.
<!–:sh–>Why is video important when most businesses get by just fine with email?<!–sh:–> The answers are less obvious but can stack up into a crucial competitive advantage in almost any industry. Video communications’ greatest impact is that it makes it easier to understand what someone is saying. On a sales call a potential customer may tell you they are interested; add video to the call you might find their body language says the exact opposite.
Using video chat to talk to employees lowers the likelihood of misunderstandings and improves the quality of relationships. Studies show that body language accounts for over 60 percent of communication in face-to-face conversations. Video conferencing with high definition cameras and screens (called telepresence) can create the illusion that the caller is in the room with you.
Unfortunately Google’s video chat is not particularly high definition; there’s no risk of thinking that the other person is anywhere else except talking to you over the internet. However, given that this is a free feature, it presents an excellent opportunity for businesses to test the commercial benefits of video communications at no extra cost. If the technology improves sales or productivity, it might be worth upgrading to a hardware-based high-definition system for video conferencing.