Welcome back to the fifth and final installment of PaySimple’s series on the small business benefits of Google Apps for Business. Over the past weeks we’ve discussed Gmail, Google Drive, Voice and Calendar. This week we’ll be talking about the new kid on the VOIP block, Google+ Hangouts.
Google+ Hangouts is basically a fusion of Google Chat, Skype, and Join.Me. Launched in May 2013, Hangouts puts a whole new spin on video chatting. With its seamless Gmail integration, you can start a Google+ Hangout directly from Gmail. Talk about efficiency! They just launched HD video now too! Though it has only been available to the general public for less than 6 months, it’s already changing the landscape of telecommuting and business collaboration in three major ways:
Full Team Collaboration
In my opinion, there’s nothing worse than working with a group on a big presentation and having to synthesize all the changes that each team member makes. Thanks to Google+ Hangouts’ seamless integration with Google Docs, entire teams are now able to edit documents in real-time, all while conversing with one another over the internet. Brainstorming sessions can be jotted down, bullet points can be reorganized on the fly, and PowerPoint slides can be group-edited all while never stopping to check on which version you should be working. Talk about a time saver! What used to take an entire day of emailing documents and edits back and forth can now be finished in one afternoon Hangout.
Screen Sharing for Product Demos
As most sales people will attest, it’s sometimes difficult to explain how a product works over the phone; it’s much more effective to do a show and tell. At PaySimple, we use screen sharing on sales calls to demonstrate our small business billing and management software. With a simple screen share meeting, we can walk potential clients through our product and answer their questions on the fly. There are many services available for companies that wish to use screen sharing, but the beauty of Google+ Hangouts is that is allows you to both share your screen AND talk over the same internet connection. Many screen sharing SAAS companies don’t offer this video and data integration, so you’ll be on your phone to talk with the client and on your computer to share screen. With Hangouts, they’re combined.
Beyond screen sharing, I find Google Hangouts to be very effective when I need to talk with my freelance contractors. Communicating through email is laborious, whereas a quick Google+ Hangout meeting can answer more questions than a 20-email thread. In today’s business environment, employees don’t need to be located in your physical office to be essential to the team. Some of your best employees might be contractors that choose to work from various cities. Google Hangouts gives you the ability to keep track of your telecommuting employees, making sure they’re hitting the agreed-upon goals and progressing as expected on their projects. Skype is a viable alternative, but Hangouts’ screen sharing capability makes it unbelievably easy to go over projects and discuss small details and changes.
If you’re not already using Hangouts, it’s just a matter of time until you get invited to a Hangout. You might as well jump on the bandwagon, because if it’s like most Google products, pretty soon you won’t remember what it was like to work pre-Hangouts.
I sincerely hope you’ve enjoyed these past 5 articles about Google Apps. If you’re a small business owner looking for cloud-based service to store & modify digital documents, send emails and manage your calendar, check out Google Apps. If you’re looking for a way send electronic invoices, process customer credit cards, and manage customer data, make sure to check out PaySimple, the all-in-one small business software.