The era of digitalisation is upon us. There is no avoiding the inevitable. It's time for businesses to embrace the age of the internet and adapt to the current landscape. Being behind the curve isn't just bad for your reputation — being viewed as old fashioned and outdated — it's also harmful. Failure to maintain the most modern tools costs your business money. It slows performance, cuts efficiency and presents barriers to both internal and external task management.
Nowhere are these impacts more keenly felt than with your communication. Digital communication tools are constantly refined and updated. Cloud technology now means that both internal communication tools and solutions used for customer communication are always under scrutiny. If you don't invest in the right business communications tools, you'll find yourself facing unnecessary barriers to success.
At eFax, we're experts in business communication. After all, our entire business is built around a business communication tool. Our experience can help get your business up to date with all the necessary communication tools and stay ahead of the competition.
2020 saw a major increase in the number of individuals working from home. While this was caused by unprecedented circumstances, the trend of flexibility in the workplace has pushed modern companies towards remote working for a while.
It is increasingly common for people to work out of the home office. There are numerous benefits to remote work, from reduced costs to employee satisfaction, but there are also drawbacks.
One such drawback is training. In a traditional office environment, you can call an internal gathering easily, but this is made much more difficult when you have members of the team in different locations.
A simple answer would seem to be web conferencing — which we discuss later — but what if the flexibility of your remote work means that some employees cannot make the virtual training session? You may find that people are on different time zones, or have unusual work schedules.
Offering flexible work then enforcing attendance to training events that conflict with employee lifestyles is not a practice we would recommend. What you want instead are internal communications tools that enable training to take place in a way that works for everyone.
Recording software — such as Screencast-O-Matic — allows you to share powerful team communication without getting your team together. You can record your computer screen live with audio, running through training documents, presentations or work seminars. You then upload the video to the cloud and allow people to watch and absorb training in a way that fits their schedules.
The result is that messages and training is always available to everyone. Nobody is left behind and business communication remains unhindered by remote work.
Video conferencing software has become absolutely essential for modern businesses. If you don't have a web conferencing solution for both internal communication and chatting to customers and clients, you need to make a change immediately.
Lack of long-distance connectivity is one of the biggest barriers to success. With the globalisation of the economy, and new trade options opened throughout the world, staying insular and focused only on those opportunities closest to you will hamper your growth prospects.
Video conferencing enables access to untapped business resources. From overseas clients to long-distance employees, you can use video conferencing to build a real connection to the wider world without having to invest in major costs like relocation or travel.
You may have heard of tools like Zoom used for this. Video conferencing is a very important external and internal communications tool.
It probably won't come as a surprise as a business owner or company representative that fax is still very much a popular form of file sharing and communication. Fax machines remain one of the most popular sources of data transfer in the modern business world, despite their age. Billions of fax are sent every year, and found everywhere from the USA to Japan. It's a very important way of sharing and distributing information. Valuable for its legal authenticity, fax is going nowhere.
But fax machines are problematic for digital businesses.
Fax machines are expensive. They're also slow, inefficient and vulnerable to data breaches. There are many reasons not to have a fax machine in your business, but the essential communication features they offer often outweigh the negatives.
There are just no other solutions available that can match fax.
Business communication tools should always be a support structure for your company, and never a liability. Weaknesses in fax machines present real dangers, such as the faxploit. It's clear that businesses need to retain fax capabilities for both internal communications and for those with clients, suppliers and partners. But, fax machines are too dangerous to keep around.
Online faxing from eFax is the solution.
Online fax is a communication tool businesses can use to maximise fax functionality all while removing the risk-prone fax machine. It works by taking fax digital and transmitting fax files over the internet. This affords all the modern security and conveniences of the web, without the drawbacks of outdated fax technology. Because eFax can convert digital documents in physical formats, and physical formats into digital documents, the communication tool also means you can continue to transmit data between your organisation and one that uses a fax machine, even when you don't own a fax machine.
eFax is also highly advantageous for remote work, as it ensures all members of staff have access to fax without having to be near a fax machine.
A study by Facebook discovered that instant messaging is one of the most popular forms of communication for consumers. More than half of respondents to a survey run by the social media brand said they preferred instant messaging to calls. The convenience of being able to hop onto a chat is irresistible. It's fast, low commitment, and you can come back to it later. The study by Facebook also revealed that while 70% of businesses thought they were communicating well with customers, only 20% of customers agreed. Clearly, there is a disparity here, and it all comes to your business communication tools.
But instant messaging isn’t just beneficial for consumers.
When it comes to internal communication tools, instant messaging has its place too. Long-distance team communication cannot be carried out exclusively over video conferences. Yes, they're great for team management and conveying information to many people at once. Yes, they're also great for in-depth discussions. But, for quick updates, they are woefully inefficient. Having to set up a call every time you need a minor tweak to a document or would like an update on something small is going to absorb lots of time. You want something quick and snappy. Something easy and fast. More responsive than email, but less time-consuming than video conferencing.
You want instant messaging business communication tools. So what are your options?
For business-to-consumer tools, you'll want something easily available to your customers and easy to use. Many businesses actually use Facebook to provide instant messaging services to their customers. You can activate this tool on a business Facebook page and it allows any of the billions of users on the platform to get in touch. You can also introduce your own instant message system directly to your website. A chat box feature allows customers to send you instant messages that can be linked to your mobile like a text service. And this idea also brings us to WhatsApp. Many businesses have set up a dedicated WhatsApp number for their customers to contact them on.
There are plenty of options available and the more you use, the better your availability.
For team communication, your options are strangely expansive and at the same time more limited. Unlike with customers, who use a variety of instant messaging communication tools you must adapt to, you can dictate exactly how internal communications are run. So, while there are several different business communications to pick from, you don't have to meet any demands by incorporating more than one. You can simply pick the best solution.
Slack has become the most popular instant messaging internal communication tool for team communication. The company has a value of $20 billion. It is one of the most powerful collaboration tools available. It allows for easy instant messages to be sent between individuals and groups of people. You can develop channels based on different tasks and workflows, and even use it for internal calls. It's brilliant for task management and file sharing, too. Hence the popularity, and why in a market full of solutions, it's the only one we suggest you use.
Availability in business is key. Missed phone calls are missed sales opportunities. Being out of the office means reduced revenue. You always want to be in a position to answer calls and take messages. Yet that isn't realistic. You can't always be available, but while using business communication tools, your company can be.
Virtual receptionist software acts as a digital receptionist for your business. The technology can exist to convey messages to customers when you can't. It can also be used to establish call forwarding. Very much a customer-facing communication tool, virtual receptionists are essentially a digital voice on the end of your phone number. You can program the responses and add your own pre-recorded messages. The solution features a handy app that lets you alter your virtual receptionist responses on the fly. This means you can always provide accurate information to customers as to why their call is not being answered, from stating you're unexpectedly unavailable to informing them you'll be back in 15 minutes and to please leave a number or retry soon.
How exactly does it work? Features of this business communication tool include:
Social media has become an essential part of business communication channels. People use services like Twitter and Facebook not only as ways to locate information about your business, but also to stay up to date with news and create conversations. Most people get their news from social media. This is where your customers are going for the information they need, whether it's looking for offers, product launches, or details about changes to your company. You want to be able to give users what they are looking for when they come to your social profile. Why? Besides being able to capture new sales leads and engage your audience, people are much more likely to use your business again, and recommend it, if they've had a positive interaction with you on social media. If you don't have a social presence, you achieve none of the above.
You need to empower your brand by using social media to communicate with your followers and consumers.
But we're then introduced to a problem: Time.
Social media management is time-consuming and unless you have a member of staff able to update social accounts regularly, you can easily fall behind. It's tough to find regular slots in the day to get onto social media and post. Thankfully, you don't have to worry about this if you optimise your approach. There are business communication tools available where you don't have to be constantly aware of your social channels, yet they are still able to perform.
Social media schedules are business communication tools that let you take pre-planned content and use the software to post to a schedule. You can essentially assign a few hours of an afternoon to prepare all your social posts for a month, and then have them roll out on scheduled dates as the scheduler automatically posts them. Social schedulers are also cloud-based technology, which means you can view and edit scheduled posts made by other members of your team. This makes it easy for management to delegate social posting while having the ability to offer a final review.
You keep your time efficient and your social media accounts remain active — providing consumers with the content they need to engage with your business. Social media schedulers to consider include HootSuite, Buffer and Sprout Social. They all do essentially the same thing, so we suggest to pick one and learn how to use it instead of switching between.
eFax is part of Consensus, a leading provider of business communication tools. Our solutions can enable business growth during the digital age. Discover everything we have to offer.