During a conversation earlier today, I was still surprised to find that many executives still fail to see the business benefits that Instant Messaging (IM) can bring to the workplace. Or, as an additional way for your potential customers to contact you.
IM is wildly popular with home users, but in a business environment the ability to communicate with colleagues in real time can derive real benefits. However, corporate managers and network administrators still remain divided over its utility in the business world.
IM presents some of the same benefits to business users as to home users: it allows you to communicate with colleagues, customers and partners at a distance in real time, like the telephone, while avoiding expensive long distance charges that apply during normal business hours. The growing popularity of Voice over IP (VoIP) services is taking some of this advantage away, as firms can now use the Internet to place telephone calls at a substantial savings over the traditional phone system, e.g. Skype
Nevertheless, IM continues to be the communications method of choice for many because it provides more of a “personal” link than email, while being a bit less intrusive than the telephone. IM is handy for dual communications. For example, you can get information from a colleague via IM while you’re on the phone with a customer, without having to disrupt the telephone conversation.
For the small firm, IM can provide many benefits which are listed below:
- Allows for "instant" communications between people. This can save time and money as you can resolve questions or problems immediately.
- Transmits messages fast enough to allow for natural flowing conversation. Once you get he hang of it, you can easily hold simultaneous IM sessions with multiple people!
- Eliminates long distance phone charges. Use of the IM over the Internet can eliminate costly long distance charges.
- Reduces the amount of email sent and received throughout the day. Many people want an answer to a simple question quickly. IM provides this capability to facilitate quick and easy communication.
- Ability to determine who is online and ready for a message. The ability to set a presence indicator is a standard feature of IM applications. You can easily see whether someone is available to chat with you.
- Gives you another method to stay in contact with your customers and improve their shopping or support experience on your web site. The benefits are unlimited when you integrate IM with your existing web site or blog. The IM tool can be used to assist in sales on e-commerce sites. It can be used to answer support questions and even to push content (URLs or web pages) to the customer.
If your business is already using Windows Live Messenger (formerly MSN Messenger) You can embed Messenger IM controls directly on your site. This will allow potential customers on the Web to reach you in Messenger by showing your Messenger status on your web site, blog, or social networking profile (Very Cool)
The IM Control runs in your web browser and lets your site visitors message you without installing Messenger first. Windows Live IM controls support IE6, IE7, and FireFox 2.0 on Windows and FireFox 2.0 on Mac OS with support for 32 languages.
I have embedded the code over at my other blog. http://www.jasdhaliwal.com. Feel free to IM me when I’m online.
To embed Windows Live Messenger controls on your own web site or blog, follow the instructions below:
1.Go to http://settings.messenger.live.com/applications/websettings.aspx. Sign in with your Windows Live ID, or create a Live ID if you don’t already have one
2. Turn on your Web settings to show your presence and receive IM from the Web. (Note that if you turn on Web settings, anybody on the Web can see your presence and send you IM messages.
3. Pick a way to show your presence.
4. Copy the HTML from the page and post it on your Web site.
5. When a visitor comes to your page, they can click on “Begin a conversation” to start sending you IM.
- Note! The IM Control lets anybody on the Web to IM you. If somebody you don’t know sends you a message, you will see a warning like below in Messenger. The IM Control lets people you don’t know reach you. If you don’t want people you don’t know to send you messages, then don’t allow messages such as this one. If you want to always enable new users to IM you from the IM Control, then allow messages from unknown senders.
Children and family safety setting users cannot turn on the settings for the IM Control