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Any experienced insurance agent will tell you the key to successful business is good customer service. The key to good customer service? Communication. Communication within your team and communication with your clients is essential to building a good brand and a successful agency. Cloud communication tools are making it easier than ever to keep in touch with your employees and clients. These applications allow you to stay in touch while you’re on the go and are essential for agencies with multiple locations.

Using cloud apps to communicate gives your agency the benefit of face-to-face communication without the costs of time and money to get from one location to another. This can be particularly helpful when explaining service options or agency tools to clients. Seeing a real human being explaining the ins and outs of your policy creates a sense of trust and security that makes for loyal clients who will sing your praises to all they know.

Using cloud communication tools within your team brings the benefit of not missing a single new idea. Through meeting face to face, you can pick up on when someone needs to interject or read facial expressions to know if a new idea is falling flat or taking off. Meeting via the cloud will also create a sense of community within your team, which any agency owner knows means more gets done, and gets done better.

There are many options out there for cloud-based communication tools. We’re going to look at three of the best tools, each with a different use, that can help your agency stay in touch, increase productivity, and provide great customer service no matter where you are located.

Join.Me

This screen sharing app is great for teaching clients or employees how to use systems or for collaboration in making new, innovative ideas come to life. It’s free to join, and up to ten people at once can look at and/or manage a single device’s screen. All you need to do is generate a secure code, provide it to the participants and, voila! It’s like you’re standing right next to them, watching their screen.

Join.Me is already used by thousands of businesses to provide direct assistance to clients who may be new to technology. Your agency can benefit by providing personal assistance in understanding how to file online claims or to check policies on your website. You can even record sessions and post them on your website for a step-by-step instructions that are always available.

Your team can benefit from using Join.Me to collaborate on a new website design, new agency strategy or any number of projects needing input from multiple members. The application is intuitive, making it easy for those with little tech experience to pick up quickly, and is secure. The application uses 256-bit SSL encryption, the same used by most online shopping and banking sites, making it hack-proof to give you and your clients piece of mind about your information’s security.

GoToMeeting

True to its name, GoToMeeting is a great tool for virtual conference sessions. You have the option for HD video for up to 6 participants or call-in only for up to 1,000, and it can be used on almost any device, including tablets. Many use GoToMeeting to host webinars or training sessions as participants can call the toll free number and listen in while watching live video, shared screens or both. Multiple individuals can sit in as presenters, and you can switch from one presenter to another in the click of a button. This is especially helpful during question and answer sessions. All sessions can be recorded, meaning no one ever has to miss a meeting or training: even if they can’t tap in virtually, they can watch the session in its entirety at a later time.

This application was one of the first of its kind, making it a pioneer in the cloud communication venue. Like Join.Me, GoToMeeting is easy to use and using similar tight security. To use the application, one presenter clicks a button to invite other presenters and provides a toll free number and access code to those who plan to listen in.  Since the application uses phone lines for audio, it comes through crystal clear. GoToMeeting is a fee-based app, but the $50/month price tag is worth it.

Google Hangout

Google has gone way beyond a search engine, and is now cornering the market on cloud computing. It’s communication app, Google Hangout, is typical of most Google applications in that it is compatible with every possible device and is easy to use. Since Hangout is a Google application, you know it’s secure. Google pays close attention to security across the board due to its high profile and growing number of cloud-based applications.

Google Hangout is, like all Google apps, a free service. You can use Hangout for meetings or problem solving sessions with up to 10 individuals. What makes Hangout different is you are able to see the faces of all the individuals in the meeting at one time, allowing you to pick up on nonverbals showing someone is confused or has something to add to the conversation. Hangout has great video quality, and it auto-adjusts to brightness and contrast automatically. Google’s recent acquisition of YouTube means top of the line YouTube integration, which allows you to watch videos in real time. When a video is played, mics adjust automatically to mute, but someone can interject by pressing the “push to talk” button to bring down the video’s volume while they’re speaking.

To use Hangout, all you need is a Google ID, which you can now get without needing to sign up for Gmail, Google’s e-mail platform. Just type in whatever e-mail you use, create a password and you’re ready to “hangout”.

We hope this intro to a few of the best cloud communication tools makes the world of cloud computing a little less scary and more accessible for you and your agency. In order for your agency to serve the needs of your clients, you’ll need to begin to embrace these new technologies to keep up with new expectations. We at SIS know it’s important to stay one step ahead and, with applications like the Partner XE agency management system, we are taking that step for you and passing it along to your agency. To find out more about SIS and Partner XE, contact us at 800-747-9273 or email sales@sisware.com.