Digital Receptionist, iPad Kiosks, and Other Tools for an Office Transformation

The digitization of offices is about more than just eliminating paperwork. It’s about providing employees with better tools and customers with better experiences. The digital revolution also helps small businesses benefit from the same tools and technologies that large businesses can. Here are five types of tools to jumpstart your own digital office transformation.

1. Virtual receptionists

You need someone to answer your 800 number, but you can’t afford or don’t need a full-time receptionist. A virtual receptionist, such as Ruby, is the perfect solution. Virtual receptionists aren’t traditional answering services — they answer customers’ questions and can transfer calls, not just take messages. They also aren’t traditional call centers — they have specialized knowledge about your company. In fact, if you hire a great virtual receptionist, your customers will never know that the person they are talking to isn’t sitting just inside your office door. It’s the perfect combination: for you, it’s virtual; for your customers, it’s personal.

2. iPad kiosks

iPad point-of-sale systems have taken over at coffee shops and other retail stores. But retail establishments aren’t the only types of businesses that can benefit from iPad kiosks. Here are a few ways to use iPad kiosks you might not have heard about before:

  • Visitor management systems: Turn your iPad into your receptionist with a visitor management system. When visitors arrive at your office, they can check in, contact whoever they are there to see, and print a visitor badge, all with a few simple swipes.
  • Directory assistance: An iPad kiosk is a great self-serve way to provide visitors with building directory information and assistance.
  • Employment applications: Forget paper applications. When someone comes to your office to apply for a job, have them fill out their employment application on an iPad.

3. Digital collaboration tools

Whether your employees are all located in one place or are spread across the globe, chances are they need to collaborate. You are probably already using the Big 3 types of collaboration tools:

  • Google Docs for collaborating on documents and presentations
  • Jira or Asana for tracking and managing projects
  • Slack for communicating across teams

To that list, add GrexIt, a tool that turns your Gmail into a collaboration platform. You can add notes to your email, add labels to your messages to share them with others, and create and embed simple email templates. Best of all, it’s free for up to three users.

4. Text messaging

Yep, you read that right. Text messaging is taking over business communications. You can use it for everything from sales prospecting, to customer service, to internal communications, to recruiting new members for your growing team. But don’t worry! This doesn’t mean all of your employees will be texting customers from their personal phones. With business texting platforms like TextUs.Biz, your employees can use a desktop application to manage multiple text conversations at once, while still allowing you to monitor all of their communications.

5. Online knowledge base

Knowledge workers spend an extraordinary amount of time searching for information, a couple of hours a day at least. Research by the McKinsey Global Institute suggests that having a searchable knowledge base can reduce this time by up to 35%. A knowledge base is a centralized repository of knowledge resources — manuals, articles, tutorials, social conversations, and so on — where employees can find the information they need. Knowledge bases come in many shapes and styles. For small companies, a simple internal wiki may suffice. Larger companies may required a full-scale SaaS application. The goal is simply to have a place where people can share their knowledge and find answers to their questions.

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