Category Archives: collaboration

UCaaS Trial by Fire

Gabrielle Weaver wears a lot of hats, and a no-nonsense headset. Starting as a member of the customer care team, she now manages ReadyTalk Hosted Voice with excitement only her dog ‘Avery’ can match. Her four-year history at ReadyTalk has been shaped by an objectively first-hand view of our services. Partly from her time working in a customer facing role, but mostly because of a last-minute relocation to Washington D.C. We like to use the expression “we eat our own dog food” at ReadyTalk. Meaning, we actively use the software that we sell on a daily basis. Here’s how Gabi puts her money where her mouth is — remotely working over 1,500 miles away.  

Q: What do you miss about working in the Denver office?

A: I do miss the physical presence of my colleagues and camaraderie you develop with people over time. That mostly applies to the moments at work where you’re catching up or doing anything but working. However, given the face-to-face interactions I experience in meetings (from a television screen) there’s still enough of a personal touch I get with my team.   

Q: What limitations have you found with working remotely?

A: Seriously, there is nothing that I haven’t been able to successfully accomplish. I can do everything I used to be able to do as if I were in the office. I’m in a different time zone, so that means I need mobile access to communications. If it’s 6 p.m. in D.C but only 4 p.m. in Denver I’m still readily available even if I’ve left my home office. And that’s another advantage to using Hosted Voice — there was no extensive setup with our IT department. It was lightweight enough for me to install, but sophisticated enough for 24/7 usage. There were no barriers to entry and the learning curve was very short, thankfully.   

Q: How do you think working in customer care has helped your decisions as a product manager?

A: Coming from that side of the business I think I have a unique understanding about customer pain points. That means balancing the needs and asks of thousands of ReadyTalk users. Their preferences and requirements are all different and specific to each individual. Working in customer care taught me to distill their hopes and dreams into one product that solves as many problems as possible. How we build products, structure them, change them, price them — all of these decisions were made looking through the lens of the customer. But I also think that my current experience working remotely has put me at an advantage as a product manager. I’m literally our target customer. So as a product team we don’t operate under the assumption that we know what’s best all the time. Instead, I’ve depended on our Hosted Voice application as a means to work everyday. That has definitely kept us honest in customer conversations.

Q: What are your passions outside of work?

A: I love to travel. I’m a certified scuba diver and did some great cave dives in Mexico a couple years ago. Also, I’m very good at brunch on Denver patios.

How personal web conferencing can support your CRM strategy

A central tenant of CRM is to put people first. Simple advice on the surface, but the frenzy of modern business and the rush to meet sales goals often makes client relationships fragmented and frazzled. 

One way to rise above the noise and put the focus back on keeping your clients happy is by using personal web conferencing technology. With this tool, you can easily reach your clients anytime, anywhere. 

Here are some ways that personal web conferencing can support your CRM strategy:

Get face time with clients, wherever you are 

The classic image of CRM is an account manager wining and dining a client at a fancy restaurant. Hilarious anecdotes are told, laughs are shared and both parties walk away with their relationship strengthened at the end of the evening. This still takes place, of course, but business has gone mobile, and it's a different world CRM operates in today. Personal web conferencing enables you to get some valuable face time with your clients, wherever you are. This face-to-face interaction is much more rewarding and meaningful than a regular phone call or – even more disheartening to the client – an out-of-office message. Whether you need to walk the client through some troubleshooting and answer some burning questions they have, personal web conferencing enables easy and intuitive communication on the spot. 

Make more engaging sales pitches 

A single PowerPoint presentation does not a persuasive sales pitch make. In a world where people are bombarded with content and companies vying for their attention daily, your sales pitches need to stand out. Personal web conferencing is the perfect vehicle for a unforgettable sales pitch because you can present a variety of multimedia content, from engaging videos to snazzy sales decks. With a slew of digital materials at your fingertips, your web-conference sales pitches can wow. 

Do product demos remotely 

Client purchased your new product? Nice work. But now they need to know how to use. Traveling to do product demos has a lot of overhead, and reading through manuals or clicking through clunky virtual trainings can be a hassle when you're trying to familiarize yourself with a new product. The solution is to perform product demos remotely via personal web conferences. It's easier for the client, easier for you, and provides the personal attention needed to keep your relationship going strong. 

With the competitive markets many companies are competing in, outstanding CRM is the name of the game. Personal web conferencing can help you overcome barriers of time, distance and cost to connect with your clients when they need you most, and ultimately strengthen your CRM strategy.  

Video conferencing etiquette 101

Looking for the key that unlocks productivity and innovation at companies? Video conferencing is your answer, letting employees scattered across the globe to collaborate via face-to-face interaction. However, just like phone decorum calls for a "hello" and "goodbye," video conferencing requires its own set of manners.

To ensure you make a good impression on your boss and co-workers, here are some video conferencing etiquette guidelines:

Look presentable 

Just because you can call into a video meeting in your bedroom doesn't mean you can get away with wearing your pajamas. Treat the call like any other business meeting and wear what you would sport to the office (and maybe move from a stack of pillows to your desk). And please, wear pants, too. Even though screens will show only your upper half, you never know if the camera could fall or you'll need to get up for some reason, as Entrepreneur magazine pointed out. It pays to be prepared. 

Have a tidy background

Be conscious of your background before joining a video conference. Make sure the space behind you is clean and free of clutter; otherwise the meeting participants will be focused on the dirty dishes littering the table behind you more than your talking points. Use an even, face-level camera angle, too, as anything else is distracting. 

Set up good lighting 

You don't need to become a lighting expert before you dial in to a video meeting, but you should make sure the room will be bright enough for all callers to see your face clearly and without shadows. 

Keep your microphone muted 

You never know what's going to be amplified by your computer or headset microphone – your finger tapping, a fan running in the background, a dog barking, a car speeding down the street, etc. It's polite to keep your microphone on mute when you're not talking. 

Make eye contact 

It's human nature to have your eyes fixed on your beautiful face in the box at the bottom of the screen instead of on your webcam. However, looking directly into the camera is important because it helps you connect with your audience. 

Fight the urge to type

You may want to type notes during your video conference, but resist the temptation, the Wall Street Journal advised. Not only could it create noise if your microphone isn't on mute, but also other people may assume that you are working on something unrelated to the meeting. 

With these tips, you can have pitch-perfect video conferencing manners. 

3 scary things holding back collaboration at your company

Hair-raising horror movies, spookily decorated storefronts and ghoulish disguises galore: Halloween is nearly upon us, bringing its spine-tingling chills and thrills our way.

The frights of the holiday are all in good fun, but do you know what's truly terrifying? A company culture that stifles team work. That's because employees who put their heads together drive success. A recent study by the Institute for Corporate Productivity and Rob Cross, a global business professor at Babson College, found that companies that encouraged collaboration were five times as likely to be high performing, according to Forbes. 

Don't miss your opportunity to be a top-performing company. Here are five scary things holding back collaboration at your organization: 

1. A lack of trust 

As executive development expert Michael Bunting noted in an article for CEO Magazine, trust is the heart of collaboration. Employees need to feel that they can share their thoughts, opinions and feedback with each other and their managers without fear of negative repercussions. If workers feel there is no sense of trust, they are more likely to be afraid to share unconventional ideas or suggest new ways of doing things that could prove to be incredibly beneficial. If your workplace is tainted by the poison apples of defensiveness and an "every man for himself" mentality, there's no way fruitful collaboration will ever happen.

2. A culture of fear

Fear belongs in haunted houses – not in the office. Productive collaboration depends on people being able to admit that they may not have the specific skill sets needed for a project and then reaching out to others who do possess these abilities. However, employees who are scared to look weak will never ask for help, according to a Medium article written by Ant Cousins, director of customer success at ProFinda. To create a culture of collaboration, management can reward employees who ask for help. 

3. Outdated technology 

Clunky TV monitors and landlines may have looked cool in "Poltergeist," but in a modern workplace, they're collaboration killers. Unified communications, hosted voice and video conferencing make holding meetings and sharing ideas across a workforce seamless and stress-free, no matter where its employees are located.

A lack of trust, a culture of fear and outdated technology: These three factors are downright scary in the way they prevent collaboration at your company. But by recognizing and then taking steps to change these factors, you can face your fears and create a more connected and productive workforce. 

Potential sticking points to unified communications

Unified communications has turned the workplace on its head, making home sweet home the new office place. Workers are kissing traffic jams good-bye, and the "daily grind," if you can even call it that, is measured in feet, not miles. To what extent? Well, In 2015, roughly 25 percent of employees worked from home on any given day, based on the latest estimates from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. And over the past decade, telecommuting has risen a whopping 115 percent, according to Global Workplace Analytics.

Unified communications has brought convenience back to the modern workplace. It streamlines the interaction process so individuals near and far can talk work through a single server, whether via the cloud, IP telephony or the numerous other channels that fall under the UC umbrella.

Afraid of the cloud? Don't be

Here's the sticking point, though: Businesses aren't exactly flocking to the cloud in droves. In fact, while 70 percent of business owners have at least considered using one communication provider rather than several, according to statistics compiled by Inc., only 19 percent have actually pulled the trigger, this according to computer security services firm Bird Rock Systems.

Why the slow transition? For one, change is always hard, especially for those who prefer face-to-face interaction. Cybersecurity is never far from business owners' minds, either, and unfamiliarity with the cloud can bring those thoughts to the fore. 

Just remember that being unacquainted with cloud computing security shouldn't suggest that it lacks in protection. In fact, According to Clutch, 90 percent of companies who use the cloud for data storage find it to be as good or better than an on-site servers at protecting their information!

New technology doesn't always cause headaches 

Because UC systems makes their bones by facilitating multiple communications systems, your mind may associate UC with technical problems. That's why selecting the right partner is so critical – wink, wink. But really, great customer service and a best-in-class network can go a long way.

Plus, companies are already planning ahead for these types of adjustments, as 21 percent of CIOs say they'll add full-time tech professionals to their staff this year, according to a poll from Robert Half. Why? Twenty-four percent said it had to do with cloud migration or big data.

From efficiency to productivity, increased engagement to cost containment, the return on investment makes unified communications the business solution that simply gets the job done – both inside and outside the office.