3 September

The Future Is Now: Virtual Business Tools That Can Solve Your Outdated Problems

We live in an age of dynamic digital solutions. Long gone are the days when certain business barriers were ingrained and impassable. In 2019, almost any problem you have can be solved with some sort of innovative digital service. Virtual tools exist to support all facets of business success. What opportunities should you be taking advantage of to secure a better future for your company?

Virtual Phone Numbers

The phone number you use can significantly influence the success of business communication. Experts suggest that customers are more likely to phone a freephone business number than other prefixes, while data has revealed you’ll see a 400% uptake in answered calls if you use a local number. 

Your phone number can say a lot about your business. Having the right one can dramatically increase your potential for growth. 

But the process of getting a new business line can be expensive and complicated. You’ll need new hardware and provider contracts. For local numbers, it’s even worse. How can you achieve regional access if you aren’t based in the area you are trying to sell to?

The answer is simple: virtual phone numbers

Virtual phone numbers allow you to select whatever business number you like, be it a regional number, a business prefix or a premium-rate line. Calls to the virtual number are then simply forwarded to your current phone systems. You’ll maintain your active phone number while also having calls to your virtual number received by your landline or mobile device.   

It might be that you have a personal mobile number registered to your business, but you would like a London-based landline. You purchase a virtual London number and provide it to customers. When they call the number, the transmission is routed by the virtual number provider to your mobile. You can now give out the number you want — and make calls using it as well — without having to go through the complex processes involved with traditional and outdated phone number acquisition. 

Virtual Office Address

Where your business is based is important. 

Picture the scene: You are looking to attract new investors and they’re investigating your business credentials. They research your business address and are provided with a street view of your two-bedroom flat. This doesn’t offer a very professional presentation of your brand and doesn’t inspire a lot of confidence in your ability to succeed. Add on top of this that your current address can also geo-target your services — which is not helpful if you intend to sell in another location — and you’ve got a recipe for diminishing returns. 

In the past, the solution was to purchase appropriate local business space, such as an office. This, however, is an expensive practice. The cheapest options are going to tally up hundreds a month, with premium space in large cities going for thousands. 

This meant having a suitable business address was out of reach for many small companies — or that financial resources were wasted unnecessarily. But times have changed, and this is no longer the case. You don’t need to push money into expensive property when it isn’t going to improve how you service clients. Instead, you can get a professional business address for around £20 a month.

How? Through a virtual office address.

The system is incredibly simple. You essentially rent a business address that you can use and register for your company. You don’t acquire any physical space, just the address you have access to. You can put this address on your invoices, website, online business profile and marketing materials. Now, when people look you up, they’ll be given a much more professional address. They’ll also find a local address if you are looking to sell within a particular region. 

Virtual Assistants

Data supports the idea that virtual assistant software can make your business more attractive to consumers by having it appear larger and more professional. It can also streamline communication and help you manage your services better.

Before we look at why, it’s important to make the distinction between virtual assistant software and a virtual assistant. The former is technology that automates your phone systems, while the latter is an outsourced human receptionist who answers your calls remotely. Both have their benefits, but today we’re focused on the digital solution.

Virtual assistant software proves advantageous for both customer acquisition and business management for very different reasons.

When looking at customer engagement, it’s all about perception and judgement. A virtual assistant automates the call structure and directs people through your phone systems until they reach the appropriate location. You’ll have experienced this many times when calling big companies. And that is exactly why it has benefits for business perception. If you use the same technology as big and successful firms, you absorb some of that associated authority. You show customers that you are an established business and not some discount, rinky-dink operation. 

In terms of improvements to processes, it all comes down to efficient operation. Virtual assistants direct customers where they need to go and can also offer pre-recorded information if speaking to a live agent is unnecessary. The result is an effective flow of communication and reduced input of resources, boosting productivity by allowing you and your staff to focus on other tasks. 

Virtual assistants also enable features like call forwarding, so you won’t miss calls when on remote jobs or out of the office, and, ultimately, provide a cost-effective solution to expensive alternatives like in-house receptionists.  

Virtual Conferencing

They say that, despite advancements in long-distance communication technology, there is nothing quite like a face-to-face meeting when it comes to making business arrangements, planning ventures and onboarding customers. 

This presents a challenge for companies that operate exclusively with long-distance clients. While personal meetings provide significant benefits, travel can be costly, both in terms of money and time. Happily, virtual tools are offering a solution.

Virtual reality technology is something that is becoming more and more widespread. From video games to movies, it has commonly been associated with the entertainment industry. However, it is slowly but surely making its way into the business world.

Virtual conferencing is an innovation that allows business owners to enter a digital space and engage with clients, partners and investors through an entirely virtual platform. This faux-physical space can introduce a lot of personalised elements lacking in standard video-conferencing and phone calls.

While the technology still has a way to go before it is perfect, its development promises exciting ways to engage with business contacts over long distances.