The more digitally savvy businesses become, the more customers expect them to have the tools to meet their needs. Teams with many members collaborating from outside the office especially need virtual devices to keep everybody on the same page and production moving smoothly. There are many virtual tools available on the internet, but they often overlap in functionality. It can be hard to know which ones will work best to provide the benefits your customers really need.
Here are some ways top businesses have used virtual tools to improve their customers’ experience.
1. Have Your Tools Work Together
Having just one or two separate virtual tools is a good start, but clever design can make them even more useful to customers. One way to boost effectiveness is to design them to be used in tandem with each other. That way, customers don’t just benefit from two great tools — they benefit from them working together.
Google is, in a way, the business that exemplifies how virtual tools can improve user experiences. Services like Gmail and Google Drive are so commonly used that it’s easy to forget it was once “just” the most popular search engine on the web.
Services like Google Drive are good for creating reliable locations where team members can find essential documentation, making communication between customers and businesses that much easier. Google Drive is also designed to integrate with all the other tools the company supplies. It is easy to send files to and from Gmail, for example. Google Drive works for individuals, small businesses and larger enterprises. Therefore, customers won’t need to worry about scalability.
2. Make Maintenance and Record-Keeping Painless
If your company owns or rents heavy industrial equipment or a fleet of vehicles, then you know how difficult it can be to keep tabs on maintenance and repair. Most heavy machinery companies stay in the realm of the physical. However, customers still want virtual tools that provide the information they need to keep their machines in top condition.
NMC Cat offers a selection of virtual tools for customers that work with Caterpillar machinery. They allow NMC customers to schedule maintenance calls, order replacement parts, and view the overall health of their vehicle or machinery fleet. Users can use these tools to know which items a specific machine or vehicle will need. They make maintenance less tedious and easier to manage, which just about any customer will appreciate.
Customers who want to become more sustainable can also use NMC Cat’s virtual tools to switch to paperless invoicing.
3. Create Easy Storage
Business communication is never easy. Critical information can get lost in a tangle of one-on-one conversations, stray memos or lost emails. A discussion from yesterday isn’t useful if you or a team member were out of the office. Customers want communication tools that allow their team members to stay in touch with each other through easy collaboration.
Slack bills itself as a collaboration hub — an all-in-one solution for inter-team communication. It does this job well: It’s one of the most popular collaboration tools available.
Slack also provides storage services that keep its customers from needing additional solutions. It is designed to integrate with services like Google Drive and Dropbox. You and your team can use it to easily share images and files with other team members. Slack also provides video chat functionality, so you can go straight from text to a call if you need to. Special features like a robust search function and the ability to pin messages to channels make storing and finding important information easy for everyone.
Email may be good enough if a customer’s virtual communication is limited, but many customers want more robust communication solutions. By providing both their own virtual storage and integration with Dropbox and Google Drive, Slack can truly act as a communications hub.
4. Satisfy Unmet Needs
B2B companies can also benefit from providing tools to their customers. Some businesses like Adobe even offer their own analytics software to help brands with marketing.
It may seem unusual for a company mostly associated with photo-manipulation and PDFs to provide an enterprise-level analytics suite. However, it makes sense when you consider what kinds of customers are using Adobe software and what other solutions they will need. InDesign, Illustrator and Dreamweaver are all commonly used by graphic designers, web designers and other creatives in the marketing field.
These creatives need web and UX design tools, but there is already a wide variety of those kinds of devices — even some from Adobe Itself. The niche Adobe fills provides an analytics tool that interfaces with the products its customers are already familiar with. It may seem like an unusual priority, but offering additional solutions can build a deeper relationship with your customers, even if it’s out of your area of expertise.
5. Anticipate Edge Cases
Not everyone has the same needs when it comes to social media. The basic features — trends, comments, follows — are all good for brands that want to track the latest developments in their industry. However, when it comes to keeping brands around, social media platforms have virtual tools they like to offer.
Twitter is one of the most popular social media platforms there is. TweetDeck is like Twitter for anyone who has several different online presences they want to manage from the same place. Twitter didn’t need to create this tool — paid alternatives like Hootsuite exist, and most users are fine with just one account. However, doing so provides a valuable service for users that don’t want third-party services or don’t need enterprise-level solutions.
Some social media platforms make having multiple accounts hard, and others encourage it. Twitter is somewhat unique in that it designed an entire tool that allows advanced users to take full advantage of the possibilities of social media. You can run an account for yourself, your business and your pets from the same browser tab.
Using Virtual Tools to Deepen Customer Relationships
For any business, there will always be room to improve the customer experience. This is especially true as the distance between clients and companies increases and more communication takes place impersonally and online. These virtual tools are a great way for your business to better anticipate the needs of clientele and for them to feel more empowered when working with you.