“It’s been far more useful to us and to me that I ever thought it was,” Meissner says. “Video calls are now basically as good as face to face meetings.”
Read on for Meissner’s tips for using Skype for business.
1. Face to Face, Online
Meissner found his accountants were wasting a lot of time travelling out to clients to make small talk over coffee, when all the client wanted was a quick fix to a pressing problem.
Instead, accountants jump on a Skype video call and resolve the issue on the spot.
Clients can book Skype meetings which the accountants can answer from anywhere they have an internet connection and from any device, whether it’s a smartphone, laptop or iPad.
2. Over the Shoulder Training
Another scenario where Skype comes in handy is for training. Five Ways accountants often help clients with their online accounting software by sharing their desktop screen using Skype. The accountant can demonstrate the exact steps required to do payroll or process expenses.
The client can then share their screen and walk through it with the accountant watching.
“Using the share screen function is just something really been powerful for us. The client still gets the experience that they’re the ones learning and doing the entry on the screen,” Meissner says.
The same tactic works for demonstrating add-on programs for 5 Ways clients, all of whom run on Xero. “It’s really like we’re standing over their shoulder and watching what they do. It gives us the ability to train the map again from wherever we are as if we’re right there,” Meissner says.
3. Cheap Calls, Of Course!
Meissner’s firm frequently contacts accountants, bookkeepers and clients overseas.
“I don’t use my mobile for any overseas calls anymore which has really reduced my bill which everybody loves,” Meissner says.
An added advantage for international use are Skype Wi-Fi hotspots, which Meissner uses to log onto the internet while travelling. There are over 2 million hotspots around the world.
“You can just pay with your Skype credit which is really cool. You don’t always have to put your credit card details in every wifi hotspot.”
4. Most Popular, Easy to Use
Skype is more popular and easier to use than alternatives, Meissner says. “Google Hangouts is good but not as many people are on it as there are on Skype.” The free version of Skype provides a lot of features compared to Citrix GoToMeeting, a paid competitor.
“I find out with GoToMeeting you’ve always got to upload the latest updates and download software. It’s not as user-friendly,” Meissner says.
The overall benefit of Skype to Five Ways has been greater efficiency and faster response time. “I really think that the most important thing that we found in our client-accountant relationship is the timeliness of advice,” Meissner says. “Clients just want to be helped, be trained, and have their problems fixed. They don’t need to necessarily wait for us to find time. It’s saved an awful lot of time.”