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Work-from-home tools to master: Video messaging

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Note: Products and services mentioned in this article are for illustrative purposes only. They should not imply an endorsement.

When it comes to working from home, people’s thoughts automatically turn to Zoom, the ubiquitous videoconferencing platform. But there’s another game-changing tool from the “Oom” family that’s rapidly gaining traction in the telework arena — it’s called Loom. It’s one of the new instant video tools that you should be adding to your communication arsenal along with your phone and email. Soapbox, Vidyard and BombBomb are also good platforms to consider.

By using the built-in camera on your computer or phone, tools like Loom make it a snap to summarize meetings, train staff and answer complex client questions. You don’t need to worry about having special lighting, a green screen or a whiteboard. The key here is to find a video messaging tool that works for you.

Again, there are three important ways that professional service firms are using Loom:

1. Summarizing meetings (with clients or staff);
2. Training staff;
3. Answering complex client questions.

Let’s take them one at a time:

1. Meeting prep and summary: As I mentioned in an earlier Accounting Today article about memory retention, we tend to forget the vast majority of what we learned or experienced within 24 hours of encountering it — in fact, almost 50 percent vaporizes within the first 20 minutes. There’s even a name for this phenomenon called the Ebbinghaus Forgetting Curve, developed over a century ago by German psychologist Hermann Ebbinghaus.

That’s why it’s so important to document all the key points of a client meeting right away. When you do, you and your client will have a clear and shared understanding of the meeting that took place and what the expected outcomes were.

After every client meeting, our firm’s policy is to send the client an immediate Loom video to remind them what we discussed and why we said what we said. We just spend three minutes after a meeting distilling the most important points. Before our next meeting with that client, all we have to do to get prepared is watch the short video we recorded after the previous meeting. No more scrambling through handwritten notes, Post-Its or cryptic references in a CRM system. The prep is largely done.

But, Loom is for more than just client meeting summaries. It’s great for training staff and for answering complex questions.

2. Team training: What does your operations manual look like? Step 1, Step 1a, Step 1b, etc.? No one wants to go through that. Instead of typing out each detailed step in the operations manual, create an instant video using Loom or one of the other products mentioned. Show your new team members where to log in and what the best steps are. Give them color on each step as they go through the process. Before you know it, you’ll have a library of useful video tutorials that your staff can refer to again and again.

Each video could document your procedure for handling issues with a tax return, or preparing a quarterly report, or the correct way to run payroll. Any of these concepts you can show-and-tell in Loom. And once you’ve cut the video once, you can store it for future reference for many other team members (current and future) to use. I don’t know of a faster or more efficient way to do show-and-tell.

As you start building up your library of Loom videos, you can create relevant folders for your team to reference. At most organizations, regardless of size, the same questions tend to get asked again and again. Instead of sending emails back and forth and trying to confirm by phone or text, you just create a quick video of yourself showing how to do a task or procedure. Make the folder searchable and label the videos: “Excel Tricks to Do Pivot Tables” or "Uploading Documents to Team Portal,” etc.

This way, you only have to answer a question once and team members can refer back to it as often as needed. By making knowledge sharing scalable, you become a much more efficient organization. Video engages all the senses. Your instructions will resonate so much more with video than they will by simply sending bullet points or text instructions.

3. Answering complicated, but frequently asked client questions: How many times have you had to answer the same questions lately about Paycheck Protection Program loan forgiveness? That’s a real bear to write out in an email. Instead, just create a quick video about “PPP loan forgiveness” and then you can use it repeatedly for clients asking the same questions. It’s the same logic that you use for answering recurring staff questions.

For example: “Here are the three things we know now about PPP loan forgiveness; here are the three things we don’t know yet, but policymakers are working on it. Call me if you have any questions.”

Boom! Done!

No more typing out long, clunky emails to clients. Just hit record and walk your clients through the steps and rationale. It’s easy to include and bring up supporting documentation on the screen. Your presence is much more powerful when you’re using audio and video.

Video engages all the senses

During the pandemic, when everyone’s feeling so disconnected, it’s a big deal for people to see their trusted advisor’s face and hear them talk. Even better, Loom makes it easy for clients to type their notes directly into the video and send you responses.

The key with any of these technologies is to be cutting edge, not bleeding edge. Let someone else beta test them first. You don’t have to spend valuable time being the early adopter, but you do need to keep up.

Things have changed. Are your tools keeping up? Make sure they are, because if you’re not finding ways to make your clients’ lives easier, someone else will. Make it easier for them to understand the expertise you’re sharing, and how you help them make better decisions.

Tools like Loom and Zoom are inexpensive, easy to install and simple to learn. Mastering tools like Zoom and Loom are all part of dressing for success and maintaining the highest level of professionalism in the remove-work world where we live.

In my next article, I’ll discuss ways for you and your team to get more out of Zoom.

What’s been your experience with teleworking? I’d love to hear from you.

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