Choosing a Conference Call ProviderFeatures and Services
Before you begin shopping for a conference call service provider, you should take the time to list your conference call habits and needs. Here are a few good questions to ask yourself:
How many people participate in each call?
How many of those are hosts?
Do you need to be able to change hosts in the middle of a call?
Who are you callers - clients, staff, the public, or a mixture?
Are your callers international, domestic, or both?
How long do your calls last?
How frequently do you hold conference calls?
Once you know what your conference calls are like, you will be able to discern which conference call features are necessary, desirable, and unneeded for your calls. For instance, a company that is hosting a very small but high-profile conference call might still wish to use a service that is typically reserved for larger calls in order to receive the additional operator and technical support to ensure that the call runs smoothly. Be sure to look at pre-conference features (registration management, account options), in-call features (operator assistance, conference lock, mute, roll call, special modes like question and answer or sidebar, voting, etc.), and overall account management and billing options.
Quality and Customer Service
The best way to evaluate the quality of your prospective conference call service providers is to request a free trial. Many conference call service providers offer free trials directly from their websites. Listen for echo, static, or any other problems in call quality, and be sure to test all the features before and during your call. Look for customer service reviews online, and see what each provider offers from their website. Some conference call service providers have limited or no phone support available to their customers, while others even offer chat to expedite your assistance.
You might think that after all of this deliberation, the remaining conference call providers will offer similar rates. Each situation is different, but you might be surprised by the different quotes you receive - sometimes for the exact same service! Be sure to check for any hidden costs (mandatory equipment, usage limits, and other additional fees) before you purchase or sign an agreement.
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