Advisers can optimise the usefulness of their time with clients by using screen-sharing software, according to a mortgage broker.
Screen-sharing allows a user to communicate by means of his computer screen to a remote viewer in real time over the internet. Ian Symmonds, director of Surrey-based Easy Street Financial Services, said screen-sharing software facilitated remote meetings with clients who were not keen on travelling. Such connections are far more beneficial than phone calls, he said. The technology was also an improvement on Skype, as it allowed advisers to share online visual demonstrations of rates, terms and conditions, and so on, thereby affording clear benefits for remote sales.
He added: “Not everyone wants a face-to-face meeting, or a meeting may not be convenient. With screen-sharing you can go into much more detail than is possible on the phone, and it enables the client to really grasp the products and understand what is on offer in terms of rates, terms and conditions.”
He said the time-saving was clear for both him and his clients. The facility meant a client could grasp what was being referred to more quickly than by means of a telephone call, and then if necessary a face- to-face meeting could always be arranged afterwards.
“Basically,” Mr Symmonds said, “It is a tool to help ensure that clients know what they are doing, and it enables us to fit more appointments into a day.”
However, he does not impose this approach on each client: “Everyone is different. Some people like to meet. But at least with this we are able to give them the option.”
Without claiming to be a computer whizz, Mr Symmonds found the technology simple to use.
“The software providers do have a helpdesk, but I have not had to use it, as the software is easy to understand and easy to use,” he said.
A licence for the software he used, Mikogo, costs around £300 a year, although free 14-day trials are available for business users who might want to shop around.
Another factor to bear in mind is bandwidth requirements, as internet speed varies a lot across the country. Mr Symmonds said when he first used the software the office only had a 2 megabyte connection, which worked well.
He has had screen-sharing sessions with clients using everything from a PC to an iPhone or Smartphone. He finds the Mikogo software attractive due to its ease of use, and its ability to connect using any browser using the HTML viewer option, for which there is no need to download extensions such as Java or Flash.
Mr Symmonds said he had started using screen-sharing software in “a roundabout way”.
“I was trying to get an introducer on board and needed to be able to communicate more to them than was possible over the phone.
“It came about by accident, basically. A client phoned and I jumped on it, and used the link-up to give him more information. I realised just what a powerful tool it was.”