Did you know that a whopping six out of ten Americans reported using video chat services in mid-2020?
After COVID arrived in North America, this technology became central to daily life. Consumers chatted with friends, families, and co-workers. But what about businesses?
Many businesses never considered offering online consultations before 2020. After COVID hit, the alternative to doing business online was often no business at all. From online yoga lessons to doctor visits, many providers learned they had to sink or swim.
With the pandemic’s end growing closer, will virtual consultations lose steam as well? Many experts think not.
Online consultations offer both clients and consultants greater flexibility and efficiency. Read on to learn about online consultation benefits:
Optimizing In-Person Visits
Are there services you can only provide in-person? For many small businesses, the answer is yes. You can’t get a flu shot or some eyebrow threading through a computer screen. But online consultations can still help groups that need to provide in-person services.
Take a doctor looking at two appointments: one for a biopsy and one for a prescription refill. The biopsy requires an office visit. The prescription refill might need a check-in with the patient.
That means the refill appointment is a prime candidate for an online consultation. The refill patient can receive help online instead of wasting time on a trip. Meanwhile, office staff can focus on scheduling and preparing for the biopsy patient.
What if you have a customer scheduled for an in-person visit? It still may be helpful to offer them an online consultation ahead of time.
Preliminary consultations can help customers and providers hammer out important details. Those details can range from the best hair color for an upcoming dye job to prep for an important surgery. These consultations help in-person visits run more efficiently.
Interfacing with Digital Tools
Remote consultations are no longer limited to a single video feed. Screensharing and cloud-based applications let all parties in the consultation access shared resources. Technology in business has come a long way.
Office workers and educators have already used online collaboration tools during the pandemic. Google Doc collaboration and lectures accompanied by slide decks are a few examples.
But businesses focused on customer-facing consultations can also take advantage of these resources. A remodeling contractor could use screen-sharing to go over blueprints with clients.
Integrating these resources into online consultations helps consultants answer questions in realtime. That means clients and consultants end the consultation on the same page. And that, in turn, leads to higher client satisfaction.
According to eMarketer, US adults spent a record 3 hours and 13 minutes each day on their phones in 2020. The pandemic definitely played a role in boosting everyone’s 2020 screentime. But smartphones will continue to play a huge role in our daily lives, in 2021 and beyond.
That’s good news if you’re a business that offers online consultations.
As stay-at-home restrictions ease, not everyone will always be around a computer. But everyone will still be around their phone. With mobile software, clients can squeeze in consultations whenever works best for them.
Many businesses didn’t just adapt to remote services. They also got creative with the services they offered. Those creative sparks will continue helping them long after stay-at-home orders are over.
Restaurant chefs offered remote cooking lessons. Clothing stores offered remote styling help. As in-person business returns, these businesses can continue offering remote services. Embracing online consultations created new revenue streams and ways to connect with customers. Their bottom lines will benefit accordingly.
Better Collaboration and Flexibility For Teams
A customer is looking for a consultation with a consulting team. But half of that consulting team is en route to a job site. Does the customer have to reschedule–or take their business somewhere else?
Not if the business makes the most of remote consultations. Online meeting technology lets many participants take part at once. That means two colleagues working from home can collaborate on a comprehensive consultation. A client couple can still attend a consultation even if one of them is traveling.
Putting a third party on speakerphone during a meeting cuts out non-verbal communication. It also makes the third party dialing in feel less engaged in the meeting.
Video virtual connections help keep everyone in the meeting engaged. That’s true regardless of whether they’re in their office or at home.
Seamless Integration With Online Scheduling Apps
Online scheduling is becoming the new normal, and for good reason.
Online scheduling offers easier, more flexible scheduling for clients. It saves hours of staff labor on reminder phonecalls and manual scheduling. It generates valuable scheduling data that helps offices maximize efficiency.
Another benefit of online scheduling?
Easy integration with online consultation technology. Some consultants find “going virtual” overwhelming. Online scheduling can help them keep tabs on their appointments.
Consultants can use online scheduling apps to send reminders. They can gather important preliminary information. They can send technology help and provide access to important educational tools.
Online Consultations: Driving the Consulting Future
COVID restrictions will eventually wind down. Online consultations will become more of an option than a necessity.
But will online consultations get designated as mere COVID survival tools? Will they be irrelevant once in-person services are back?
The answer is no. This business practice isn’t going anywhere soon, because it works.
If you provide online consultations, you may be considering online scheduling, as well. This digital scheduling solution can integrate seamlessly with an online consulting practice.
AppointmentPlus provides comprehensive appointment scheduling solutions for businesses of all kinds. Whether you need a medical appointment tool or an enterprise-level solution, we’ve got you covered. Contact us today to schedule a demo.