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Do you arrange conference calls? Here is how to choose the right service for you.
There are countless service providers offering conference call facilities and it can be confusing when choosing one. I offer you ten things to consider when you do.
- Consider where participants are. If all participants will be in your country/region all the time, then you should choose the best price-plan for your area. But consider if participants will be likely to dial-in from overseas, as this could become very costly. If you have participants spread throughout the globe, choose a service that has presence in these countries with a local dial-in number.
- Speak or listen. Some services offer the option to allow some/all participants to speak and listen, or just listen. ‘Listen only’ is useful for delivering broadcast updates and training courses. Not all services offer this feature.
- Maximum number of participants. Consider how many concurrent participants you’re likely to need and choose a service that supports your requirement. Most offer more than you will need, but it’s essential to check.
- Consider mobile participants. It can become very expensive for mobile users – I was recently hit with a $60 bill for a conference call I dialled into from my mobile. Until I found out that the service offers a short-code for dialling in from a mobile that made it much cheaper. So consider services that offer a cheaper rate using a short-code number for mobile users.
- Pay-as-you go vs Contract. Many services are on a contract basis where you pay a subscription fee for the service and users pay a local-rate to dial in. And then some services are ‘free’ to offer, but claw-back revenue through premium rate numbers – essentially spreading the cost over the bills of participants. Both have a place – and your choice should depend on how often you use these services. Regular users should choose a subscription-based plan whereas infrequent users should use a pay-as-you-go service.
- Recording/transcripting. Some services offer recording and/or transcripting so you can maintain a record of calls. This is especially useful when negotiating with suppliers or dealing with contracts.
- Leaders. Some services, like PowWowNow don’t require a leader to initiate a call, whereas some do. With non-leader services, anybody can initiate and join, which might be OK. Where you require a structured management of a call, this feature is undesirable.
- Integration into other services. Some services allow you to integrate into others, such as WebEx, where you can not only conference by voice, but also through a browser and share desktops. Interactive sessions using screen-sharing are very effective in demonstrating applications, video, or highly-visual presentations.
- ‘Vanity’ numbers. You might want your dial-in number to be unique to your brand. Some services offer this.
- Contract length. You may be in this for the long-game, but then again, you might not be. Consider the contract length of the service before committing, as you might find yourself bound to a contract you no longer require. Short contracts tend to cost more per month.
If you haven’t read my post How to setup and manage a conference call – Like a Pro then check it out now.