By: Dann Anthony Maurno
Microsoft on its Skype Blog has announced the Skype Professional Account desktop client, which will add new booking and payment capabilities. It will soon be released in preview in the US (though Microsoft is accepting applications now to join the preview).
The Skype Professional Account desktop client “adds powerful new features to Skype to make doing your online business a whole lot easier,” promises Microsoft, including booking meetings; accepting payments; and keeping notes on the session. (No details on the payment engines used or accepted)
Skype Professional Account is targeted at any type of remote service provider, from the self-employed sole providers to professional services. When applying for the preview, you are asked to select from several business categories, including:
- Online education (e.g. languages, music)
- Wellness (e.g. nutrition, yoga)
- Coaching (e.g. life coach, career coach)
- Telehealth (e.g. psychology)
- Business Consulting (e.g. strategy consulting, email marketing, consulting)
- Legal & Financial Services
- Real Estate
- Other (self-defined)
This offering, says Microsoft, brings under one umbrella the three utilities (and usually, three solutions) required for online consultation, being Skype, calendar software, and a third-party online payment service (see graphic for interface). “From French tutors to yoga instructors, you’ll be able to book lessons, accept payments, and give lessons all from one place, seamlessly,” says Microsoft; this, alongside an enhanced Skype profile page to improve online presence, and a dedicated website right in Skype. “Your contacts will be able to see pertinent info like your hours and business offerings.”
This opens searchability within Skype; potential customers will be able to find businesses, just as they find colleagues and groups on Skype. “That means they can now look for the kind of professional they want to work with-maybe a financial planner in their time zone with over ten years of experience, or a career coach who’s worked in the healthcare industry,” writes Microsoft.
Or, for example, a Dynamics consultant could more efficiently provide remote support and services.
With this preview, Microsoft continues to grease the skids for SMBs and microbusinesses. In September and at Directions North America, Microsoft announced that the Office 365 Bookings app will be integrated with Dynamics 365 Tenerife for streamlined invoicing of services rendered. Payment methods indeed include PayPal. The Bookings app was released in July, 2016.
Skype Professional Account is free during preview, with pricing to be announced later.