Howard Greenstein’s blog post yesterday gives some good insight in to how we work with clients. It also got me thinking about how we communicate internally at Zemoga. And how much things have changed in the last few years.
My background is in international business and I spent several years working for Time Warner and Penguin Books in London and New York. My older colleagues would often regale me with stories of the “glory days” of international booksales, when communication took place primarily by Telex (an early version of the fax machine) or mail. Often, it took days if not weeks for them to receive a response on a business query and the business thrived on “hand selling” (usually involving expensive trips by the salesperson to visit the client for a face to face meeting). Businesses like Zemoga couldn’t have existed in that era.
Nowadays, my contact with my colleagues in Bogota, Wilton or on site for a client is instantaneous. It’s rare for a member of our team to be out of contact for any reason other than traveling (and, of course, they are often logging in at airports and text messaging from cabs).
In addition to our VOIP phones (which allow us to direct dial each other even though we’re separated by thousands of miles), our primary method of communication is Instant Messaging. We use Adium as our main IM tool since it does a good job of aggregating feeds from the various IM clients that are out there. We send short messages and primarily use IM when we are looking for an immediate response. We also frequently use IM when we’re on a conference call to exchange links, images, etc. For larger file exchanges we use Skype. We will also use Skype or GMail‘s video chat function when we need to have real time feedback on visual presentations.
Of course, all those files are connected to projects and our primary project management tool is Basecamp. We’ve written about how we use Basecamp before but it is an invaluable tool for sharing files and tracking project development. We’re also using Basecamp’s sister program Highrise to manage contacts and CRM functions for the company.
It’s a powerful arsenal of software tools that allow our team to work from multiple locations around the USA and around the world. And it allows us to tamp in to talent and resources unavailable to other agencies.
What tools are you using to give your company a competitive advantage?