Avoid These Five Email Annoyances

Thomas Fox is president of Tech Experts, southeast Michigan’s leading small business computer support company.

Email is a primary form of communication in the business world because it allows people to work within their own schedules and time-management styles.

With its ease of use, however, we may be sending more messages than necessary, contributing to a general email overload that can mask which items are most important.

Here are some common pet peeves in regards to this lightning-fast communication that may help you refine your email practices:

Sending/Responding to All
Before you send a mass email to all of your contacts or reply to all on an email, ask yourself if each of those people really have a need to know the information within your message.

While this may cover all bases, it is disrespectful to the recipients of your message that aren’t an essential part of the conversation by wasting their time and clogging their inbox. [Read more…]

How Can Small Businesses Amplify Employee Communication?

Michael Menor is Vice President of Support Services for Tech Experts.

Using email to conduct important business always starts with the best intentions, like saving everyone time. Just think back to the last time you used email to solve a significant business issue or answer detailed questions from an important customer.

But, sometimes, email creates a disaster of miscommunication. Tone, intonation, and emotion get lost in translation. Messages and ideas are misunderstood. Nothing really gets accomplished.

So, what’s your next step when email isn’t working?

Usually, it’s a meeting in person or a quick conference call. Un-fortunately, those communication methods can create a whole new problem. In an increasingly mobile business world where teams, employees, and customers are spread out over multiple remote offices, work-from-home setups, or field operations, it can be nearly impossible to get everyone into the same place at the same time.

Tethering to the mothership: The lasting value of a virtual phone system
Web conferencing has helped mitigate the above problem. However, the fact that many businesses lack the communication and collaborative tools their team’s need — regardless of where they work — is the bigger issue. For example, even with web conferencing, many remote or work-from-home employees still rely on personal cell phones that aren’t connected to the company’s main phone system.

That’s problematic for a couple of key reasons:

• With personal landlines and cell phones, it’s significantly more difficult for remote employees to access antiquated company systems for voicemail, call forwarding, and conferencing.

• Without a true company-owned connection between the corporate office and the employee, the relationship between the two feels more like a contract gig than a full-time job — hurting employee engagement and retention.

Thankfully, there’s a relatively simple way to solve that problem: implementing a new, company-owned communication system that’s flexible, mobile, and collaborative.

One common solution is a VOIP (Voice Over IP) service, which can be based in the cloud or on-site.

The reality is that voice communication is still a far superior — and much more immediate — way for team members to connect with each other. It typically leads to richer, more sincere, and more empathetic communication, which in turn amplifies productivity.

These tools are like a tether to the corporate mothership. They’re a lifeline that allows everyone to feel connected to their colleagues and customers, but in a way that aligns with the mobility and functionality that today’s remote workers need.

Why many businesses are moving to the cloud
Of course, the image of a desktop phone doesn’t exactly convey a sense of mobility. And it certainly doesn’t solve the problem of being able to connect from any location.

That’s where cloud-based phone systems come in.

Cloud-based phone systems allow team members to receive company calls, access corporate voicemail, and set up virtual conferences from a basic Internet connection.

When employees step out of the office, calls can be forwarded and certain features can be accessed from their cell phone.

Traditional phone systems, on the other hand, often hinder remote workers’ communication effectiveness because of their limited mobile capabilities. This often results in lost money, lost productivity, and big headaches. Even worse, businesses often pay more for traditional phone systems in the form of equipment maintenance and outages.

Virtual communication systems create an overall experience that makes people feel like an effective part of the team, wherever they are. No more emotionless email exchanges and no more awkward, disjointed conference calls. At the end of the day, that’s good for your team, your company, and, most importantly, your customers.

Does Videoconferencing Make Sense For Your Company?

Thomas Fox is president of Tech Experts, southeast Michigan’s leading small business computer support company.

Science-fiction fans have long wished for life-sized communication devices that create a real-time image of the person you’re talking with.

Recently, holographic video technology has begun to surface, although at present the price means it’s restricted to only the wealthiest companies.

More realistic options when you want a face-to-face with clients across town are video conferencing and telepresence setups, like HP’s Halo solutions.

Soaring fuel prices, and the growing awareness of our carbon footprint, are encouraging the fast adoption of video conferencing among big and small companies alike.

Some businesses have even taken the line that if a video conference is possible, they won’t travel long distances for a meeting.

The advantages of video conferencing are obvious. As the old saying goes, “a picture is worth a thousand words.”

By being able to see each other, participants benefit from improved understanding and communication. Productivity goes up, travel costs are removed, and the time spent driving or flying to meetings is slashed dramatically.

The next stage
The benefits offered by video conferencing are soon to be taken to a new level by technologies like motion tracking, facial recognition and simulation, intelligent audio technologies, handheld and full-scale holographic devices, 3D monitors, stereographic camera setups, and entire-room display technologies.

Recent months have already seen the introduction of digital projectors into mobile phones.

While many of these technologies sound quite far-fetched, a lot of them will be available for regular business use in the near future.

And like most technological breakthroughs, with time many of them will also find their way into our homes. Friends and family living overseas could virtually walk in and talk with you – or share their living rooms in full detail.

Enhancing collaboration today
While holograms and other such technologies are still out of reach for most, video conferencing systems like Halo are helping organizations hold more engaging long-distance meetings that lift productivity while reducing costs.

The top-end products can include life-sized screens, crisp pictures, surround sound and even operating technicians.

A far more attractively priced option are PCs and notebooks equipped with web cameras. With free services like Skype and Webex, you can quickly and easily set up time-saving face-to-face meetings.

Collaboration and communication can be improved effortlessly, travel costs removed in an instant.

New technologies will soon revolutionize the way we communicate, but in the meantime, video conferencing can offer your business a great advantage.