Let me first say that I am not fan of video chat. In fact, I would prefer that this technology wasn’t invented even. Could it be because I’m a stubborn person? Do I not like changes? Are you a tyrant?
Well, yes I am all of that. But that’s not why I don’t like video chatting. This is due to the fact that I’m raising teenage kids. The school they attend gave them as well as their peers, gratis Macbooks at the start in the school year. After a few minutes of getting these devices they quickly figured out how to make use of the video chat software that came pre-installed. This means that I cannot go to the kitchen for an iced drink at 10 in the evening without hearing some giggling teenager who lives just two miles away saying “Hi Mr. Marks” or “Nice boxers, Mr. Marks.”
However, the reality is that video technology is here. It’s inexpensive. In the case of some small entrepreneurs, it’s an essential part of their companies’ communications.
Like Marty Grunder. And Lee Buffington. They both use Oovoo an online video chat service to help them run their businesses. And according Marty, Marty, “it’s revealed a whole new world.” For mepersonally, it’s been discovered to my tenth graders that I’m wearing SpongeBob boxers.
Marty is an expert consultant and speaker in those working in the landscape industry. He helps his clients grow their businesses as well as improve their the profitability of their businesses. And he relies heavily on Oovoo to assist him with this.
“The last several days in a row I had back to back coaching sessions with clients,” Marty recently told me. “These were with landscapers located in different parts of the country. I did it all face to face…from my desk.”
Lee Buffington is one of Marty’s customers. His company, the northern Alabama located in northern Alabama, Turf Tamer Inc. provides both residential and commercial landscaping services like designing/building, lighting and irrigation. The company also makes use of Oovoo for face-to-face communication face with both prospective and current customers to discuss plans.
For guys like Marty and Lee A picture is worth more than a thousand words. A video is worth a million. But they’re not the only small business owners who benefit from video chatting software. Doctors are deploying assistants to conduct house calls on their behalf, sending back instant video streams from their mobile phones for advice. Roofers are showing videos of shingles that have cracked to office estimators to ensure that estimates are more accurate. The real estate agent is showing their clients new houses as soon as they go on the market.
It led me to consider my own company. My company sells customer relationship management accounting, customer relationship management, and other software for business. Should I consider using video sharing technologies like Oovoo (or Skype, or other similar technologies) as well?
These services seem easy to setup. It’s true, for god’s sake, both Marty and Lee both are landscaping professionals. These guys mow lawns for the money they earn. If they’re capable of it I’d guess that just about anyone can (just kidding).
The truth is that using a service like Oovoo is stupidly simple. You set up an account for yourself. Then you’re listed in the Oovoo community as an available member. anyone can click your listing and request to be connected. However, your video doesn’t need to be shared with an Oovoo member. Send an email with a link to the person you want to invite. He clicks on the link and immediately he’s able to see you via his browser on his computer. If he has a video camera on his computer you’re seeing him too.
Skype will require you to install software (it takes a short time, but it’s not a long process). Oovoo does not. The applications are compatible with PCs and Macs. Most computers today come with video cameras built-in. If not, getting one and connecting it to a USB port is easy too. Both Lee and Marty recommend to buy a decent camera as well.
I did all this. It was easy to download Oovoo and it installed on my laptop in less than a minute. After that, I provided a URL for the video conference to my friend who clicked it and within minutes I was able to see him (he didn’t even have a webcam installed on his computer). I also did this for my 10th-grader (trust me, he has a fully operational webcam on the back of his Macbook) which meant that we immediately saw one another in close proximity. It worked, almost too well. The video chat technology is making me wonder if I thought my children were once cute and cuddly.
By the way…I have done all this for free. Oovoo as well as Skype, iChat (that’s Apple’s software that is included in their products) as well as other video chat software is available for free. There is no cost for two-way video. Or for calls to other Oovoo members. Oovoo can get away with this because they charge for advertising so be sure that you don’t click a third party’s link while on the video-calling screen. I can buy premium services, like audio calls, greater number of participants on a video conference more resolution, and better saving of video conferences as well as desktop sharing. Business plans, which incorporate these functions and add more support and administrative capabilities, can be purchased between $39.95 per month for a single user to $699.95 every month to accommodate 50 users.
Marty and Lee seem to love the idea of. “If I say ‘how’s business going’ and I don’t see a client’s face when he answers then I’m not getting the whole answer,” Marty says. “I need to look in people’s eyes if I can really help them. It adds a whole new level of accountability.” Lee is awed by the ability to be in touch with his clients and to share his thoughts without the need to spend an entire day off for travel.
It’s possible that you think I’m on board, right? Unfortunately, I’m not. In fact, I’m going pretend to be video chat for a bit to promote my work. I’ve got the right reasons.
It’s for a start, it’s a little too intrusive. Maybe I’m old school. Perhaps I’m scared of seeing teenagers who aren’t my friends in my boxers at all hours of the night (it’s not a beautiful image). But I do a great deal of work at home. And often when I’m calling, I’m also doing other things , like walking around and checking ESPN and clipping my toenails. I’m not convinced that my clients would want to see all that. I’m not certain ANYONE would like to see it. I’m betting that those I’m talking to aren’t always keen to know what they’re up to as well. Certain things should be left to imagination.
In addition, video chat isn’t a necessity in my company. I don’t do coaching and consult like Marty. I’m not showing landscape plans like Lee. I’m not evaluating bedsores or a broken gutter that hangs off the roof. There’s no one who wants for me to be seen. They’d like to see the software I’m selling and how it will aid their staff to become more productive. I’ve got a good set of desktop sharing tools that can assist me in that.
Video chatting? It’s a lot of fun for teens. It’s valuable for some business owners. But with a face like mine? I’m not interested.