Videoconferencing will benefit marketers beyond the pandemic

July 30, 2020 By    

The coronavirus pandemic has shined a light on little-used videoconferencing technologies. The most popular platform has seen its daily meeting participants zoom from 10 million daily meeting participants to over 300 million daily meeting participants.

Small businesses, including propane marketers, often resist videoconferencing because “it’s something the big guys do” and amounts to an admission that their small, intimate business isn’t that small or intimate after all. The reluctance is understandable, but it misses the point.

Time is money. Your intimate, in-person meeting might require your early-bird drivers and service technicians to start their routes later, leaving them waiting for office staff to arrive. Their other option is to begin their day, then stop what they are doing and return to the office for the meeting, adding mileage and depreciation to the cost of your intimate meeting.

Then there’s the complication of having more than one office or plant. We have employees based at three locations not coincidentally spaced about 90 minutes apart. An intimate meeting now costs an additional three hours per traveling employee – not to mention the opportunity cost of not doing their day jobs. The net result of this cost is that you have meetings less frequently than you should with employees who are paying less attention than they should.

We started weekly videoconferencing meetings over a year ago. Drivers and service technicians start their days whenever they want, knowing that they need to find a safe place to stop for the 30-minute videoconference using their smartphones. The auto-attendant minds the phones while the office team participates.

In addition to the benefits of seeing and hearing participants, our videoconferencing technology makes it easy to screen-share or file share, which makes videos, software and other training demonstrations – and even the dreaded PowerPoint presentations – easier to display and see than in-person meetings. Meetings may be recorded for those who need to miss the live meeting or simply want to see it again.

The bottom line for our business is that the time and expense of in-person meetings are no longer impediments to frequent, effective communication and action-driven meetings.

Getting started

Videoconferencing technologies are not created equal. Important features to consider are ease of use, security, sound and video quality, and available features. We ultimately went with a technology that’s included with and integrated into our phone technology which, in turn, is integrated into our document storage applications and email and calendar applications, which are integrated with other critical business applications. Don’t just pick the most popular or readily available videoconferencing tool. Find one that makes sense for your business.

The challenge does not end with identifying the right videoconferencing tool. You have to make it easy to use. As many of you know from working outdoors or in sometimes unfamiliar homes serving your customers, a controlled environment with high-speed internet access is a luxury.

We discovered that a few months and a little patience solved most of our videoconferencing problems. We also discovered that the problems were not limited to technology. Starting and ending meetings on time, joining meetings on time and planning the beginning of the day to be at the right place to safely join the meeting are not innate skills and need to be developed.

Our most important discovery is that it’s worth the effort. We are better coordinated, better informed and more team oriented. And videoconferencing is for more than just meetings. Field technicians can visually share and troubleshoot service problems, and our office team can use screen-shares to more quickly solve problems.

Videoconferencing is more than a gimmick to get you through the isolation of a pandemic. It’s a tool that can make you, your business and your team more effective.

This article is tagged with , , and posted in Blue Flame Blog, Current Issue

About the Author:

Sarah Peecher was a digital media content producer at LP Gas.

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