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When it comes to conference calling, don’t leave it to the glossy marketing material to catch your eye. As we mentioned in our previous article, the true cost of “free” / “cheap” teleconferencing is far more than most will expect.

Of course, price isn’t everything, and likewise, a large price tag doesn’t necessarily mean you’re getting the best service for your business – and if you’re the one that’s instigating finding and signing a new contract for your business, you’ll be wanting to make sure the move is a good one!

If you want to fully review and compare conference call services, you’ll want to use some of the guidelines and tests we put in place when we review services:

Customer Service

Here’s the scenario; it’s 5pm and you’re just about to commence an hour long conference call with 6 people – 3 of which are from a business that you are trying to win a contract from. You join the call, but then you realise no one else can join. What do you do?

Now is probably not the time to find out if the customer service team of the teleconferencing provider are taking calls, let alone understand their capabilities of a team to resolve issues in a timely manner.

So, be sure to check customer service reliability post-signup as you may find, to win your business, the customer service team may be quicker to answer questions, than once you are finally signed up.

Feature Checklist

Before you contact any conference call provider, think about the features you absolutely need – this will stop sales teams signing you up for the whole 9 yards, when all you really needed is the first foot, i.e., call recordings and an easy invite system.

Calculate Usage

Again, before contacting service providers, try and calculate potential usage by yourself. The basic sum to do is:

Number of participants x length of call (mins) =

So, if you have 10 participants on a call that lasts 60 minutes, the number of conference call minutes you should be looking to buy is 600 minutes.

Now, of course, you don’t want to calculate your usage based on a single call – think about entire business use and then extrapolate over the period of a year and divide by 12 (months) – this will give you a good idea of how many bundled minutes you need to purchase, as it smooths out the peaks and the troughs from throughout the year.

It’s worth then finding out from each conference call provider what happens if a) you are below your minutes each month and/or above. For example, if below, do they roll over minutes to next month, or, if over, what are the additional fees incurred?

Performance Testing

Now, the service provider may state that they can handle 10, 50 or 100 participants, but can they REALLY handle it? Schedule a test call with as many people in your business as possible. Preferably, don’t all call using the same phone line and/or same location. Dial in to conference call from different locations and by different means, such as landline, mobile phone, laptop and try and dial in from different countries, if possible.

Make sure everyone has a chance to talk and check in with everyone to ensure the call is going well for everyone, i.e., no audio issues from; crackling to complete silence.

Post call, double check that, if required, a call recording has been created and you’ve had a chance to verify the call quality at this point too.

Conclusions

As you can see, even from these basic, but important factors, with the number of conference call providers on the market, completing this task will take you a substantial amount of time. Don’t have the time to review by yourself? Check out our conference call review and comparison service on our homepage and see what the best solution is for your company needs today: Compare conference call providers.

Written by Benjamin Willis