Tools for Business Owners Who Work With Virtual Assistants: Communications
The Tools for Business Owners Who Work With Virtual Assistants listed here will help save both you and your virtual assistant time (and money) by facilitating more efficient communication.
While most virtual assistants will utilize email for the majority of your communications, there are times when a quick instant messaging (IM) session or live phone call will better facilitate sharing information or planning a new project. In those instances, you may find one of the following resources useful:
Skype is undeniably the leader in VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) services – with the ability to instant message and call other Skype users anywhere in the world for free, it’s a reliable communications solution. Additional free features such as conference calling and file sharing allow you and your virtual assistant to collaborate in real time. Factor in the optional paid features such as a Skype number and voice mail and you may find yourself giving up your landline altogether.
join.me is an app developed by LogMeIn (a remote access service we included in a previous post). join.me is available for both the iPhone and iPad and allows you to view someone else’s screen while collaborating in real time. Additional features include: VoIP calls, chatting (IM) with other callers, zoom, and the ability to see who is in attendance on the call.
Viber is another iPhone app that allows for international free calls to other Viber users using 3G or Wi-Fi. Viber will use your existing iPhone contacts list to see which contacts are already using the service. Use of the service does utilize your iPhone’s data plan it eliminates per-minute fees for international calls.
Google Voice gives you a central phone number (and voice mail) from which to access and manage all of your other phone numbers (cell and landline). Also has the ability to automatically forward voicemail messages to email, and can also send a transcript of the voicemail. There’s an excellent write-up of how to use and make the most of Google Voice here. Google also offers two additional communications options, albeit, more rudimentary: Google Chat, a video and voice plugin (works from within Gmail) and Google Talk a PC only instant messaging software that also allows for file sharing.
ooVoo is a free video conferencing service that allows for up to six callers to participate at one time. Call from PC to PC, Mac to PC, mobile to PC, mobile to mobile, etc. Also provides the ability to record and send video messages, share files, record and store audio and video calls, and real-time desktop sharing (an invaluable resource for the times you need your virtual assistant to be able to see what you’re working on, or vice versa).
Facetime is Apple’s iPhone 4 video chat feature. With the click of a button on your iPhone 4 start a video conference with your virtual assistant on their iPhone 4. Also works with iPad 2, Mac over WiFi.