The way we work has changed quite a bit since the COVID-19 pandemic. Employees are working from home. Businesses are hiring and recruiting remotely. Internal business communication has taken new forms — non-stop pinging of Slack messages, cats making their appearance in Zoom meetings, and endless email threads.
Our workspace has evolved to include traditional office, remote working, and setups. And while flexibility has opened many doors for growth, self-care, and bread-making, effective communication may get lost. This is a recurring fear businesses have when debating remote working opportunities: How will we maintain accountability and productivity if we cannot easily communicate with each other in real-time or face-to-face?
The key is to make it easy for remote employees to do their jobs effectively with the right remote business communication tools.
Communication Tools for Remote Working
Boosting your business communication system is important as it can determine how your sales perform and how your business grows.
A business’ communication system is often two-ways: internal and external. Internal communication refers to conversations between team members or departments within the business. External refers to the interaction between the business and its customers, leads, vendors, suppliers, etc.
Good internal communication helps encourage collaboration while increasing productivity and efficiency by ensuring everyone is on the same page. In contrast, strong external communication leads to improved customer service and success and increased sales generation.
And so, when you are looking to bring in new remote communication tools, you want to look for ones that support both your internal and external communication needs.
Here we will look at the different internal and external remote business communication tools every business needs. You will notice how these tools are designed to not only help your employees communicate effectively but also increase collaboration and productivity.
Internal Communication Tools
An excellent way to combat fears of remote employees not being productive is to make it easy to connect with them and get status updates. This means sending emails, chatting on group messaging apps, or updating tasks in a project management system. Here are some of the key communication tools and services you should consider for your remote business setup:
1. Messenger, Chat, and Workspace Tools
Have a corporate messaging system such as Google Chat (part of Google Workspace) or Slack. These workspaces let users chat with other employees and team members while also having quick access to documents, images, and other files. For example, users can share files and updates via chat and collaborate in real-time. This takes out the time spent waiting on email responses or weekly meetings.
Tools: Google Chat, Slack, Microsoft Teams, Discord, Twist
2. Video Conferencing Tools
Next, you want to invest in some kind of video conferencing tools. Video meetings are a great way to check in on your employees (and customers), discuss core issues, and get status updates. These meetings mimic face-to-face meetings and increase the sense of community within a business.
It is easy to feel left out when everybody is working remotely. Touching base and connecting with peers and colleagues will improve employee engagement and help them feel like they are still a part of a big team working towards a common goal.
Tools: Zoom, Google Meet, GoToMeeting, Cisco Webex Meetings
3. Internal Video Marketing Tools
Another avenue to explore is using video for internal communication to give your remote employees a quick and engaging way to consume company-related information and content. You can use videos to onboard new employees, share product and company updates, share meeting agendas and notes, and communicate other important information.
Internal video marketing is an excellent tool in building a sense of community within a workspace and defining company culture. When you use video for internal communication, employees can:
- Share company updates and celebrate achievements.
- Stay connected and up to date, irrespective of their location.
- Learn about new features and resources available through the company.
- Watch interviews with leaders and managers.
- Learn about the company’s social responsibility efforts.
- Train themselves and new employees through walkthrough tutorials.
- Catch up on important meeting notes and company news.
- Find help and support for technical issues.
Tools: Biteable, Vidyard, Wistia, Vimeo
4. Cloud-Based Project Collaboration and Task Management Systems
Project management systems help visualize remote employee activity and team collaboration and performance. Users can work and communicate on projects and tasks in real time. Plus, you can view stats and reports on team and individual progress. Common features that most project and task management systems offer:
- Task manager (tasks and subtasks)
- Time tracker and logging
- Project updates
- Reports and dashboards
- Collaboration and chat
The best remote business tools come with integrations and task automation software so you can connect all your apps and services together in one unified platform. For instance, many content and project management systems have space for adding tasks, sharing and updating documents, logging time, as well as chatting with others or leaving comments — All in one web-based service. This cuts down time spent moving between different apps and services and improves workflow.
Tools: Trello, Asana, Monday, Teamwork, Kissflow, Airtable
External Communication Must-Haves
External communication tools work within your business communication system. They help your employees and departments stay in touch with customers, leads, vendors, and suppliers, no matter where they are located.
Let’s look at some business phone system tools that improve the way your business communicates with its customers and clients.
Note that most of the below services can be added to your existing business phone service plan. Contact your provider or research phone service providers online to see what options are available for your business.
5. Cloud Communication Systems
Most traditional phone systems are limited to specific geographical space (i.e., the office). However, a cloud phone system works over the internet, letting users connect from any location. You can simply route incoming calls to different employees and departments. You can even route calls to different employees during different times and offer customers 24/7 service with a follow the sun support model. This way, you can extend your business phone service to cover your remote employees.
Plus, a cloud phone system comes with various features to improve reach and connectivity — we’ll discuss some of these below. But overall, these tools and features make it easy for remote employees to engage with customers and prospects in a professional and efficient manner.
6. Multichannel Communication Options
Besides phone communication, you may also consider providing your customers with other communication channels to increase convenience. For example, you can get an SMS plan along with your business number to encourage customers to message your business. This is helpful for customers who prefer texting and chatting over calling a company. Additionally, you can even use live chat and maintain active email and social media accounts so that customers preferring those methods of contact receive responses and resolutions. The more options you offer, the wider the audience you connect with.
7. IVR System
An interactive voice response system is an automated voice response that uses pre-recorded messages and predetermined menu options to interact with customers. It answers incoming calls, greets callers, and provides them with options to move forward. It can also help identify the purpose of the call and directs callers to the appropriate department or agent.
Having your IVR system filter out incoming calls can help you better manage your call volume. This way, simple tasks can be taken care of by the IVR while more complex tasks move to the agent or employee. Most IVR systems are customizable so that your business can set them up to meet your exact needs.
8. Call Recording Software
Call recording software is another popular and highly effective business communication tool. Businesses can record calls to:
- Improve the quality of customer service
- Train new employees on what standards to uphold
- Maintain compliance with regulations
- Protect against liabilities
- Document conversations and transactions, etc.
And so, recording business calls can prove highly beneficial for companies of all sizes and in every industry. In fact, in some industries and for particular business types (such as financial services), recording business calls is an absolute necessity.
9. Outbound Calling
An outbound calling service provides an opportunity for companies to expand their reach through phone conversations. With an outbound calling service, your enterprise can contact local and international customers and prospects through your business phone numbers. All without the hassle of international or long-distance calling charges. With outbound calling, your business can:
- Welcome new customers
- Increase brand awareness
- Generate sales and leads
- Verify accounts and purchases
- Follow-up with recent purchases or subscriptions
- Offer specials and memberships discounts
- Offer customer support and customer success
- Send out appointment/renewal reminders, and more.
Furthermore — with a cloud phone service provider — you can even display specific caller IDs when calling their matching cities, states, or countries. This will increase the likelihood of calls being answered as customers recognize local and toll-free numbers over international or unknown numbers.
Conclusion: Communicate Better and Improve Overall Sales
These essential tools have been designed to optimize business communications by making processes more efficient and increasing productivity even when everyone is working remotely. Additionally, they encourage internal collaboration and provide customers with an enhanced caller experience that encourages trust in your company. If you don’t have these tools in place, it might be time to start looking at ways to improve your existing communication system. There are many options available; give them a try and see which works best for your business.
Meryl D’Sa-Wilson has been a writer for over 8 years, exploring topics and trends in business, travel, communications, marketing, literature, and fashion. She currently works at Global Call Forwarding where she writes about telecom and SaaS.
Business tools for remote working stock photo by Studio Romantic/Shutterstock