Skype does more than give you a free way to talk online. In fact, Skype has plenty of handy features that can help you manage your small business no matter where you are or what technology you use. We've collected the best kept secrets to help you harness the power of Skype for your small business.
Skype: Anytime, Anywhere, Any Device
Skype is a universal application, and it runs on just about any operating system and device you can imagine: PC, Mac and Linux; desktops and laptops, tablets, phones, smart TVs and even the Xbox. Skype doesn’t cost anything to download and use, although some add-on features will cost you.
Additionally, in many situations you can use Skype without anyone knowing it. As far as the people you are talking to are concerned, you could be in your office at your desk when you are, in fact, sitting on the beach on the other side of the world.
5 Things You Didn't Know Skype Could Do
1. Cutting Small Business Phone Costs
Skype-to-Skype calls are free, but they require pre-planning because you and the person you're talking to each have to use Skype. However, if you buy Skype Credit or sign up for a Skype subscription service, you can use Skype to call both landline and mobile phones anywhere in the world—and still cut small business phone costs in the process.
Figure 1: Skype per-minute rates and subscriptions typically cost less than local telco pricing, and they're much cheaper than international roaming charges.
Even in your own country, the per-minute cost for a Skype call is typically much less than your telephone provider would charge. And, if you're sunning yourself on the beach in a foreign climate you'll find Skype usually costs a whole lot less than the price your telco charges for international roaming. Learn more about Skype rates and payment options.
2. Training Online with Skype
Skype is a great tool for online training. Skype calls can combine audio with video and let you see the other person on the call. And if you have access to a video camera, they can see you too. Up to 10 people can participate at once, and this service is currently available for a range of devices (including desktops, laptops, Xbox, and tablets) with mobile support coming soon.
Figure 2: Skype lets you make video conference calls, and share screens and files, which makes it a great tool for training and online help.
You can also share screens using Skype, which lets you see the other person's screen, and you can even operate their screen using your mouse. This makes Skype handy for providing (and receiving) technical help, and for collaborative and training purposes. If you need to share files, click the plus symbol on the screen, and you can upload a file to share with all participants.
3. Send a SMS Text Without a Phone
Even if you aren't using a mobile phone you can send an SMS text to anyone via Skype. This feature also comes in handy if your phone's keypad is too small for you to type comfortably; use Skype to type a message with your computer's keyboard. You'll need some Skype Credit, as this is a for-fee feature.
Figure 3: No cell phone? Hate your cell phone keypad? No problem you can SMS text using Skype.
Launch Skype, and click the Call button. From the flag dropdown list, select the country that you want to SMS and type the local number in that country. Instead of clicking to make a phone call, click the SMS button and type your SMS message. The cost of the message appears underneath the message line—click to send the message when you're done.
4. Look Like a Local
Skype makes it easy for you to have a presence in another country via a local Skype number. If you have clients in the UK, for example, you can buy a UK number through Skype. Give that number to your clients so they can call a UK number at UK call rates to talk to you. When they call you, the call will come to your Skype account. If being connected to Skype 24/7 isn't convenient you can use Skype call forwarding to send all calls to your mobile or landline.
Figure 4: Skype numbers open up a world of possibilities for providing local numbers to clients, customers and coworkers.
You pay for the Skype UK number and the cost of forwarding calls from Skype to your phone. If the impression of being "local" is important to your business, this option is easy to set up and fairly inexpensive. Skype numbers cost $5 per month for a 12 month subscription and per-minute call forwarding charges vary. Learn more about Skype's online numbers.
5. Call from Website
Place a Skype Button on your website or blog, and visitors can click it to call you or send you a message. These buttons offer a one-click way for customers or team members to contact you regardless of your location.
Figure 5: Keep in touch with customers via a Skype button on your website or blog.
You can configure the button to let site visitors call you, message you, or both. Because they're calling your Skype number you can answer the call via Skype, or you can have the call forwarded to your mobile or landline. You can also have Skype answer the call—if you sign up for Skype voice mail. If you decide to use this service, remember to change your Skype settings; you must configure Skype to let you receive calls from people who aren't on your contact list. You make that change via the Skype Options in the Privacy Settings tab.
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