Deciding what sort of technology can make your life easier, grow your business and help boost your productivity involves researching the huge amount of technology available and assessing the pros and cons for your business.
As most business owners and operators are keen to boost the efficiency and revenue potential of their businesses, these should be prerequisite considerations before introducing any new technology.
With some forms of technology, it’s not that obvious that it would boost business growth. For example, will social media investment get you a greater dollar return? Possibly, but not necessarily.
Will digital advertising deliver more business growth and revenue? Again, it may or may not. It all depends on how effectively you reach your target audience and how much you spend.
But some technology can provide you with an immediate capacity to more effectively engage with your clients and may be a quick productivity and revenue winner.
Introducing virtual meeting rooms into any service-orientated businesses, for example, may be one effective way to produce client outcomes at least equal to or better than the results that would have been achieved in face-to-face meetings or through telephone calls.
Such technology allows you to set up online meetings with your clients, irrespective of where they are in the world.
Existing solutions allow you to share, amend and digitally sign documents with your customers in real time and authenticate documents onscreen to complete transactions immediately, and the benefits to your business can be significant from greater client engagement.
Just consider this example. In 2014, UK-based Nationwide Building Society became the first in Europe to offer a video link service to give its consumers greater access to mortgage advice.
Nationwide is the world’s largest building society and it has a lot of customers to serve in geographically diverse locations.
It boasts a relationship with one in four households in the UK via its 700 branches and 400 mortgage specialists, so adopting virtual meeting technology allowed the building society to reach its customers more effectively.
After implementing its video consulting service, Nationwide Building Society measured customer experience and it reported high levels of business uplift and customer satisfaction.
Ninety-four per cent of the customers who had experienced a video meeting said it was an excellent replacement for a face-to-face consultation.
According to Nationwide’s scoring system, a score of 70 was achieved by staff face-to-face consultations in-branch, while a higher score of 90 was achieved for virtual meeting experiences. Customers reported that it “really is like you are in the same room”.
Now, make no mistake, it was not for Nationwide simply a case of implementing a virtual meeting solution, of which there are plenty on the market such as Skype, GoTo Meeting etc, and boosting its customer satisfaction and profit.
A careful protocol is required for any organisation. The technology must be very reliable, that is, no meeting dropouts and it must be easy for your customers to use.
In addition, the virtual meeting experience still has to represent the brand image of your business. For Nationwide, “attention to detail was critical: the remote advisers were uniformed and occupied pods looking like branch offices”.
“Once connected, the customer saw and talked with the adviser in real time, was able to review documents and mortgage choices with the expert, and received printed documentation for review or signature,” Nationwide said.
“After that initial video-enabled meeting, subsequent consultations were scheduled using the same medium.”
The key takeout points are that virtual meeting rooms can add significant value to most service-based businesses because they allow client interactions:
- Anytime, anywhere: They save the expense of travel while retaining the personal connection of face-to-face communication. Your specialist advisers can be available to your entire customer base, irrespective of geographic location.
- Personal consultation: Virtual meetings in an online form enable you to maintain and build customer intimacy more effectively than phone or digital-based engagements such as emails.
From the outset, it’s important to invest in a quality virtual meeting solution, one that allows document and onscreen collaboration and sharing of documents and e-signing capacity, such as that which Nationwide adopted. Like all things in life and business, you get what you pay for.
Pay for decent software and you’ll get a good service. If you download the software for free, you can expect some meeting dropouts and that’s not something you want any customer to experience.
Do your due diligence on the best virtual meeting room software out there and don’t risk your client’s patience – and your business – using inferior products.
Once you get the right digital workspace tools in place and introduce seamless virtual meetings, you can expect to more easily diversify your client base to include younger Gen Y or Millennials, who expect the latest technology to be at the forefront of their financial services delivery. Financial advisers or mortgage brokers, for example, who adopt virtual meeting rooms will represent the next generation advice or service model and will reap the benefits of greater client engagement and business growth, as the Nationwide sample clearly illustrates.
Ian Dunbar is the chief executive officer of SuiteBox