Proper communication tools are key in navigating the new normal, and we're here to help you figure out which to use.
The three-month-long enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) has come to an end. As we enter the general community quarantine (GCQ) phase, local Filipino businesses, including restaurants, laundry shops, and second-essential product providers, are allowed to resume operations.
It’s time to let your customers know you’re open for business.
Now, this won’t be so easy, especially if you were lying low for the past couple of months. But if you’re committed to jumpstarting the conversation, you may want to consider the best tools to do so.
But first, let’s introduce the contenders:
G Suite is a bundle of productivity and collaboration tools developed by Google Cloud. Through applications like Gmail, Google Docs, Google Drive, Google Meet, and Google Calendar, it’s really easy for teams to collaborate on shared projects in real-time.
Microsoft 365, on the other hand, is a bundle from Microsoft that includes all of their most popular office applications, including Microsoft Word, Microsoft Excel, Microsoft OneDrive, and even the video conferencing app Skype.
Email is an essential tool in keeping communication open with your customers, suppliers, and your team online. Google’s Gmail and Microsoft Outlook paid versions both allow you to personalize your email address so they reflect your business name.
Getting an email from someone named email@example.com feels much more credible compared to getting an email from firstname.lastname@example.org.
In this case, your next consideration would be the interface. G Suite offers a much simpler and more intuitive user interface that you can customize to a certain degree. Meanwhile, Microsoft Outlook has a very corporate feel and is packed with options and customizable features, like ignoring entire conversations or opening multiple Outlook windows. It acts a lot like a traditional folder system that allows you to group emails based on priority. You can also check your mail offline.
For internal communications, you’ll need different channels to reach your team, especially during an era of social distancing. You need to be able to email, chat, and video call one another when the need arises.
As mentioned earlier, Google has Meets for video conferencing as well as Hangouts for easy chatting within the Gmail interface. Since Meets and Hangouts are synced with the rest of the Google Suite, it’s easy to share documents and send calendar invites without ever needing to leave the Gmail interface.
Microsoft Teams is also a part of the Microsoft 365 bundle and places all of the relevant Microsoft applications within the same interface. As it’s more chat-focused, Teams offers dedicated conversation channels, which allows teams to send the right message to the appropriate group.
What’s more, you can create an internal microsite for announcements using Microsoft or Google Sites. This makes posting bulletins and keeping important notices organized and visible.
Surveys are great for getting customer feedback or for replacing manual order tracking.
In this category, there are Google Forms and Microsoft Forms. Both tools offer similar formats like question and answer or multiple-choice, and easy sharing and embedding options. Google Forms linked to Sheets or Microsoft Forms linked to Excel can automatically analyze answers, like how you can find results in a quiz.
One perk of Google Forms allows you to collect the email address of your form respondents, which makes it extremely useful for compiling your contact list for communications efforts. For Microsoft Forms, you add a QR code for easy sharing.
An example of how valuable these tools are to your communication efforts is in light of the pandemic. With just a few minutes to set up a questionnaire sent through your email or social media pages, you can ask and analyze your customers’ preferences that changed during ECQ. Another is for order tracking. Instead of listing down orders yourself, you can have customers fill out a form, so you have all the necessary information to process a transaction.
When it comes to customer interaction, there are several features you want to look at:
Communications strategies, including interacting with customers, require a lot of documentation. You’ll want space in your drive for survey and form analyses, word documents with email templates, lists of customer contact details, and even images for your social media pushes. G Suite offers up to 30GB of storage in its basic plan, and unlimited storage and archiving in its mid to premium tiers. Meanwhile, Microsoft caps its storage at 1TB per user, and you can unlock this feature in the second pricing tier and above. Both are scalable and you can add more storage as needed.
In this case, it’s Google Sheets versus Microsoft Excel. Sheets is a simplified version of Excel—it’s easy to navigate and collaborate with other team members in real-time. But when it comes to sheer processing power and advanced capabilities such as data visualization and number crunching, Excel is the way to go. Either way, both tools can help clean and build customer databases, organizing them for needs like creating loyalty campaigns. This way, you can easily pull up a database for surveys, a capability of both suites as mentioned above.
Google Meets is a convenient video conferencing tool that syncs with your Gmail account. That means you can invite anyone you’ve emailed before to a Google Hangouts call or chat. Microsoft Teams is more focused on threaded conversations. This means it’s messaging focused yet also expands to audio and video calling.
With both Google Meets and Microsoft Teams integrated in their productivity suites, you can easily share files and set up meetings using your chosen suite’s tools. Both offer screen sharing and call recording options.
Now, your business that used to rely on face-to-face interactions can still function the same way, maybe even better. Are you offering free trial classes in your institution? Moving your wellness therapy services online? Holding a film festival? Or perhaps, training your business customers about using your product? Video conferencing can handle all that without the restrictions of location and even group size. Both offer FREE six months trial with no time limit to calls until the end of June 30, 2020.
Both G Suite and Microsoft 365 offer various pricing tiers that are available on a subscription basis. G Suite offers three tiers that start at USD4.20/user/month. Microsoft 365 provides four tiers start at PHP349/ month.
All three tiers within G Suite offer the same set of tools and applications. The only differences are the storage allocation and “added perks” within these tools. But in Microsoft’s case, certain tools and applications such as Skype are exclusive to the more premium tiers.
Another thing to note is that both G Suite and Microsoft 365 have free alternatives. Everyone with a Gmail account can access basic version of Docs, Slides, Drive, and Calendar for free. Microsoft Office on the other hand often comes with desktop packages, but these must be upgraded separately and offer no online support.
In this case, Google is the better option, but going for the free version severely limits your capabilities. While you have access to the tools, you don’t get useful features offered with the bundle, such as access to one-click setups or the added security measures.
It’s hard to go wrong if you end up with either one of these powerhouse productivity suites. Both of them offer a wide range of tools, features, and applications that you can use in your own communications strategies. So, in this case, there’s no such thing as the “better” tool, only one that’s more suitable for your goals and needs. To help you choose wisely, schedule a consultation with our account managers.
HELPFUL PRODUCT INFORMATION:
Get a Free Webinar Training with GCash eGCs for G Suite. With the gift certificates, you can subsidize the cost of instructor-led training. Click here to learn more.
Avail of discounted licenses for Microsoft 365. This also comes with GCash eGCs to subsidize the cost of instructor-led training if you wish to avail of the training. For more information, visit this link.Download
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