How to pick the best video conferencing software for your small business
Why do you schedule meetings in the first place? Most of the time, you’re probably aiming to review strategy with a specific team, facilitate training for a product/campaign, or connect with new prospects or colleagues in other offices. Too often, though, meetings don’t really deliver and instead only waste a lot of everyone’s time.
These unproductive meetings are especially costly now that teams are increasingly remote and mobile. Much of their time spent together is in collaboration software, instead of in person. That raises the stakes for finding just the right video conferencing solution, one that keeps everyone in sync with as few distractions, technical hiccups, and barriers to participation as possible.
Can video conferencing enable better meetings?
Why do so many meetings underdeliver? Start with a practice that is often regarded as a virtue but can be a real vice during a meeting: multitasking.
According to a Microsoft Workplace Analytics study, the typical manager spends more than a quarter of their weekly meeting time multitasking. Since so many meetings now occur via phone or audio conferencing tools, there are more opportunities than ever to do almost anything other than focus on the call at hand.
When someone sends an email during a meeting or can be heard busily typing while someone else is talking, it’s both a distraction and a signal that it’s OK for all meeting participants to do the same. Everyone’s productivity suffers.
Fortunately, there’s a proven solution: video conferencing software. Video conferencing tools such as Cisco Webex allow meeting rooms to be hosted and joined from anywhere with lifelike quality and fewer distractions. The results speak for themselves: Almost 90% of Webex Meetings users report shorter and more effective meetings.
That’s not to say that other modes of collaboration, including instant messaging and desktop sharing, are insufficient – only that they’re best paired with a video conferencing service that keeps participants engaged.
Plus, video conferencing tools have utility beyond internal meetups. They’re also a great way to differentiate your small- or medium-sized business (SMB) by personalizing your customer service operations, with the same benefits for focus, context, and clarity that video brings to your own meetings.
5 features to prioritize to find the best video conferencing software
When shopping for the best video conferencing software for your SMB, focus on the breadth and depth of features it offers, how they fit together, and what they can do to engage mobile and remote workers, not to mention their overall usability.
Let’s go into more detail on where a standout solution will distinguish itself:
1. Video and audio quality
Video conferencing should provide quality far beyond that of a regular phone call, but many potential issues can still mess it up. Background noise, choppy video, and various hardware-software complications are all common stumbling blocks.
You’ve probably been in a meeting or two where some participants joined in an on-site conference rooms and others connected remotely via their laptops or dialed in from their phones while in transit. The quality of these different connections and the ensuing interactions are often highly inconsistent.
To address this problem, Webex is built to deliver unparalleled video quality from anywhere. Customizing the meeting layout is easy and you can join from a wide variety of desktop and mobile devices, plus any standards-based video conferencing system.
2. Ease of joining and participating
The common experience of an in-person meeting that takes too long to start has, unfortunately, made a seamless transition to the video conferencing world. Thanks to features such as complicated PINs, as well as the rigamarole of needing to download dedicated apps, plugins, and more, it’s not unusual for 10+ minutes to be wasted right away.
Simply joining from the device of your choice shouldn’t be the most difficult part of the meeting – and it doesn’t have to be. The best conferencing software—like Webex—puts you in the driver’s seat with options like:
- Joining from any web browser, with no download or configuration required.
- Having the meeting join you, with a convenient Call Me feature.
- Scheduling, starting, and joining from your toolbar with Productivity Tools.
3. Remote technical support
If your SMB maintains several remote offices or provides online customer service, video conferencing paired with features such as Voice over IP (aka VoIP) calling provides a powerful alternative to costly on-site visits and protracted back-and-forths over email.
Video in particular offers unique opportunities for personalized and hands-on support. A representative could walk someone through a fix with the help of visual aids after getting a live look at the issue in question. Other in-session features such as desktop sharing and application access make it easier to get to the heart of the problem without any expensive travel.
Keeping internal users happy helps with morale and engagement, especially if they’re remote and perhaps concerned about receiving adequate assistance from IT.
Meanwhile, the rich real-time customer support possible through Webex leads to more of them coming back. A study published in Harvard Business Review found that customers with the best experiences spent 140% more than ones with the least satisfying interactions.
4. Use case flexibility
Video conferencing is a versatile medium. It can work equally well as a way for a small group to trade ideas and as a forum for literally thousands of meeting participants to listen to a keynote broadcast – as long as the right technology is in place, at least.
You shouldn’t have to second-guess your video conferencing platform (for example, “Will it send a correct invite to everyone’s calendar?”) when you go to schedule a meeting. To make your life easier, the best video conferencing software seamlessly integrates with the most commonly used productivity and collaboration tools. Combined with the platform’s reliable infrastructure, this broad compatibility lets you hold meetings on your terms.
Whether you’re hosting a big conference for 10,000 invitees or huddling up with a remote team, a platform like Webex lets you get everyone together as painlessly as possible. Integrations with all major calendar software in addition to tools like Salesforce make the journey even smoother.
5. Cost-effective collaboration
By itself, a high-quality video conference is a reliable way to ensure more focused meetings. When you add in additional collaboration features such as screen sharing, call recording, and social media sharing, you provide even more of the context and interactivity that make video so useful for today’s teams.
As a small business person, being able to conduct a quick presentation within video chat lets you hold productive, cost-effective meetings from virtually anywhere. No need to herd cats (and invest a lot of your time/money) just to get everyone in one physical location – it’s all in crystal-clear detail on the screen.
Plus, features like call recording preserve and extend the value of the meeting. If someone missed out and needs to catch up, they can easily refer back to the Webex recording.
Ready to chart a new course with your video conferencing software?
Video conferencing can yield powerful strategic advantages to your SMB, and getting started is easy. With just your email address, you can try out Cisco Webex for free today with a 30-day trial. Visit this page for more details!
Feb 25, 2021 — Chris Capasso, Matt Spool, Thomas Vidgar & Damien McCoy
Feb 25, 2021 — Bobby McGonigle & Enrico Conedera