Video conferencing has long promised an easier and cheaper method of holding face-to-face meetings with clients, coworkers, customers, or just about anyone else you could imagine needing to speak with during day-to-day business. Putting an exact value on an investment in video conferencing technology can be a bit of a challenge.
In this article, I’ll take a common sense look at how exactly your company can measure the return on investment a technology like this actually provides to your business.
Video conferencing service providers tend to lean heavily on travel cost reduction as a major selling point. These same companies are vague in providing hard data to back whether or not a video conference actually results in a higher return on investment than traveling for a face-to-face meeting.
I recently had the opportunity to attended a few virtual presentations held by Simon Dudley, the video evangelist at LifeSize. LifeSize takes a fairly unique approach to marketing its video conferencing solutions to businesses. Instead of pushing video conferencing as a solution to mounting travel costs, LifeSize focuses more on presenting itself as an efficiency tool.
In one of Dudley’s talks, he went into detail about LifeSize’s stance on using video conferencing in leu of travel. He said, “For the monster deal, there’s flying. For everything else, there’s LifeSize.”
It would be nearly impossible to put into numbers exactly how relationship building with clients via video conferencing impacts a specific business’ likelihood of closing the deal when compared in-person meetings. There is clearly a human factor involved with actually meeting someone, making the handshake, and taking them out to lunch that even the best video conferencing technology can’t replace.
As Dudley points out, there are lots of smaller touches where it’s inefficient to meet in person – those are the moments where video conferencing can shine. Lost productivity due to travel can be reclaimed with a video conference. There are also intangibles around travel like keeping employees closer to their homes, which can improve quality of life and keep employees in closer contact with their families.
Video Conferencing as Customer Support
Support comes after the initial sale. It involves everything from providing technical assistance to customer service, and even relationship building in order to provide the best case for keeping your clients for years to come.
In the case of a small business working with local clients, travel can be negligible, but human resources can be easily overwhelmed, even with limited travel time involved.
Let’s say you run a copier repair shop, and you have a moderately large list of local customers who signed up for long-term support. In most cases, an issue with a business-class copying machine can be resolved with a few button presses and/or replacement of the toner. Your customers are crunched for time and they need the copier ready as quickly as possible, but travel time between your next scheduled service appointment and a customer with a new emergency could take several hours.
For the copy repair business with a video conferencing solution, you could ask the customer to simply turn on their camera and walk through basic troubleshooting without needing to go on site. They lose out on the in-person touch, but they’ve saved on what could have been several hours of lost productivity. You’ve also saved time and money by not having to send your technician across town to make the service call.
Simply firing up your webcam and opting for a video conferencing call doesn’t solve all issues, or satisfy every customer. It simply provides an alternative method of providing a solution that can come in handy during times when being present in person is neither convenient nor necessary.
What’s the Actual ROI of Video Conferencing?
The value varies by organization, but according to a Forrester Research study commissioned by LifeSize, the key areas where using a solution like LifeSize provided the biggest savings for one particular company are:
Travel: It’s no surprise that using video conferencing does eliminate some need for travel. The amount of travel offset by video conferencing will definitely vary by business.
Increased Productivity: Fewer days on the road for workers leads to more predictable schedules and improved productivity.
Efficiency Improvements: Being able to easily show a remote co-worker how to do something via video, have regular meetings, or interact with customers for an impromptu meeting can create greater levels of efficiency throughout many types of organizations.
Environmental Stewardship: Less travel in all its forms, whether by plane, train, or automobile results in lower carbon emissions and a lower overall energy footprint.
At the end of the day, efficiency may very well be the biggest factor in determining whether or not you should invest in video conferencing technology. Being able to eliminate back-and-forth emails, travel time, and reduce the potential for miscommunication can result in a faster, more productive working environment for your business. Video conferencing isn’t going to solve all of your communication problems, but it can certainly prove to be a very important piece in the puzzle.