Why I Love Using Skype to Keep in Touch With Family and Coworkers
Skype has been a daily part of my life and the life of my family for over four years. I depend on Skype every day for my professional life, and my family counts on it to keep in touch with relatives in Canada, Europe, and the Philippines.
If you’re a Wise Bread reader, you’re probably already savvy enough to be using Skype to make free Skype-to-Skype calls. But I would like to introduce you to Skype Credit, which allows you to call landlines and mobiles in the U.S. and across the globe at extremely low rates.
Why I Love Skype Credit for Personal Use
I emigrated from the Philippines to Los Angeles nearly 30 years ago, and most of my extended family are scattered across the globe. Before discovering Skype Credit, my frugal parents had to be very careful about how much time (and money) they spent on international calls. But these days, my parents and I use Skype Credit to call family members in Canada, Europe, and in the Philippines on a regular basis. Skype Credit’s per-minute rates for calling internationally are much cheaper than other options, allowing us to never think twice about calling up our relatives.
For example, my mom uses Skype Credit to talk to her aunt in Toronto frequently. My grand-aunt is the oldest living relative in our family, and she serves as an important connection between my mom and the previous generation of our family. Thanks to Skype Credit, my mom and grand-aunt now talk a couple of times a week on the phone. (Although, to my chagrin, they usually use these calls to discuss my love life.)
Why Skype Is Essential for My Small Business
Since Wise Bread is a virtual company (we all work from home), Skype is an invaluable tool in my day-to-day work. Our team is spread throughout the world: LA, New York, Italy, New Zealand, Manila, and more. Being able to communicate with my team at any time of the day, whether they’re in the U.S., Europe, or Asia, has been invaluable. It’s hard to imagine how we could have built this company 10 years ago, before the advent of Skype Chat, Skype’s iPhone and Android apps, and Skype Credit for cheap calls to my teammates on the other side of the world.
Here are some of the reasons I love using Skype for our day-to-day business operations.
1. Skype Is Available on All Devices
I love that Skype is available on computers (Skype download) and on tablets and phones (iPhone, Android apps). Whether I’m sitting at my desk on my laptop, watching TV with my tablet next to me, or gardening in the backyard and only have my smartphone, I’m always available on Skype. That means I’m in constant contact with the team, clients, and partners outside the company.
2. Skype Chat
Skype Chat is the virtual water cooler that keeps the Wise Bread team united, even though we’re physically thousands of miles from each other. Our company Skype Chat windows are filled with work stuff, as well as gossip and pop culture discussions. This daily chatter is what keeps the team on the same page for work, but it’s also what bonds us together. If we didn’t have Skype Chat, we wouldn’t have the team morale and cohesiveness that’s necessary for keeping a virtual company alive.
Furthermore, Skype Chat allows me to stay in constant contact with people outside the company. For example, I regularly chat with other finance bloggers like Jeff Rose (Good Financial Cents), Jim Wang (Microblogger), Steve Chou (My Wife Quit Her Job), Phil Taylor (FinCon and PTMoney), and others. Skype allows us to stay in touch regularly, and I can say that it has helped me develop both professional and personal relationships with these bloggers. I wouldn’t be able to call these people “friends” now if it wasn’t for the candid chats we've had on Skype over the years.
If I had to sum up the business benefits of having Skype Chat with other bloggers, I would say that we’ve landed hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of deals and media opportunities because of the contacts and referrals made through friendships developed over Skype.
3. Skype Number
Skype Number gives me an actual number (eg., 310-961-XXXX) for five bucks a month. I can forward calls made to this number to any laptop, mobile, or tablet.
I put this phone number on my business card, and that way, I’m reachable by clients and partners, regardless of whether I’m at my computer, doing yard work, or on vacation in Europe. They think I’m sitting in my Los Angeles office, when really, I’m wandering the Van Gogh museum in Amsterdam. Really, it’s impossible to be a location-independent small business owner without a Skype Number.
4. Skype Credit
Skype Credit has been critical to Wise Bread’s success. Since Wise Bread deals with both U.S. and international partners (clients and other websites), being able to call anyone in the world for low per-minute rates has really helped our business.
For example, while on a family vacation in Scandinavia last year, we had a problem with the Wise Bread server. I needed to talk to my partners in LA and to my hosting company’s admins in New Zealand. If I had made the call using my cell phone provider’s roaming rates, I would have paid $2-3 per minute for the privilege. But instead, I called people in LA and New Zealand using the Skype app on my phone, which saved me a lot of money.
5. The Call Quality Is Superb
Finally, Skype’s call quality is amazing. I almost forgot to mention this because it’s been so reliable.
I have done media interviews using Skype, and they were better than if I had made the call using my cell phone or landline service. Listen to this interview I recorded using Skype and hear for yourself.
Downsides of Skype
I really like Skype, and I think it’s absolutely critical to my business. But I do want to point out a couple of drawbacks.
1. It Requires Decent Internet Connection
Skype works best when you have a decent internet connection. From what I’ve seen, Skype works well with almost any basic cable/DSL/data packages. Unsure whether Skype will work well with your internet connection? Fortunately, you can try out the free version of Skype before you buy Skype Credit, so you know before you spend any money whether Skype works for you.
2. Does Not Call 911
You cannot use Skype to call 911. However, this is not much of a problem, since when you’re at home you can easily use your landline to call 911, and according to the New York Times, you can make 911 calls from “any wireless phone — even one that no longer has a phone number or service contract.” (This is why Lifehacker’s tip of keeping a couple of old cell phones around for emergency purposes is a great idea.)
It’s hard to imagine how my business and personal life was without Skype five years ago. The tool has been essential to both my day-to-day interactions with business teammates and partners, and to keeping in contact with relatives overseas. I’m grateful that Skype has helped me, my employees, and my family to stay in contact.
I highly recommend that you check out Skype Credit and see for yourself.
Skype Credit has provided me with compensation for my time and efforts on this article. I was a happy Skype customer well before they became a Wise Bread sponsor. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.