Meetings with your employees, collaborators and colleagues are a necessary part in running your business. However, face-to-face meetings aren’t always possible, and that’s why conference calls are such a valuable tool. They enable large groups of people to meet over the phone, or enable individuals to drop into a meeting from a remote location, without the need for video chat software or camera equipped computers. Since everyone already knows how to place a phone call, conference calling eliminates barriers to a productive and smooth remote meeting.
#1 – Participant Management
Before you begin to your conference call, you need to connect everyone. The best conference calling services will give you the ability to control who joins your call. The most important feature you should consider is the number of participants each service can accommodate in a single call. Although a fifteen person capacity may be suitable for your small business, you might need to include more callers, especially if a large percentage of your employees work remotely.
Another key feature you should consider is the ability to invite callers to your meeting for you to know who plans to connect. The best conference calling services can send out invitations in the form of an automated call and enable the receiver to confirm his or her attendance with the press of a button. An essential feature to keep your conference calls secure is the ability to limit your meeting to the invited callers. Finally, another key concern depending on the needs of your business is the support for international callers.
#2 – Call Management
Once your conference call is in progress, a good service will give you a wide range of options that you can use to manage your meeting. The best platforms provide an interactive web interface that allows you to see details, such as who is currently talking and who is connected, and the information about the callers who dropped out and who are muted.
Another important feature to consider is the ability to record calls as they happen to enable who wasn’t able to join to listen to them later. The platform should also have the ability to store all your calls in a single database and let you stream or download any recording later. In addition, the best platform should have the option of incorporating your video chat into your conference calls. Other features, such as the ability to set a personalized greeting that will be heard by the callers when they connect, aren’t essential but will set a professional tone for your conference call.
#3 – Interactivity
Your conference call should have the potential to be a lot more than a group phone call. It should also offer a range of functionality to participation and feedback from your participants. For instance, several services provide the ability to conduct an instant survey or poll to gauge the overall opinion of the group, and the callers can use the dial pad of their phones to enter their response. Hand raising is another handy feature, which allows the participants to notify the call organizer that they wish to speak at the next chance. This is very important because it helps to avoid situations where callers are talking over each other.
Some platforms also incorporate the white board feature that lets users take notes, sketch, and brainstorm visually with users who log into an online web portal. This is a great collaboration tool for users who aren’t able to be in the same room with one another. Finally, the ability to share documents, files, or the entire desktop of your computer with other callers is another essential key factor you should consider. However, this feature is only useful for callers whose computers are connected.
#4 – Price
Extra functionality is good, but it’s not important to pay for features that won’t benefit your business. No matter how small your business is, it can still get access to a solid conference calling service without you paying a lot of money. In fact, the biggest factors that will determine how much you pay include: the number of participants you’re able to connect to your conference call, and international calling. For each international calling, most services charge an extra fee per minute.
You will pay a monthly fee for the whole conference calling package, with the ability to hold many calls as you want during that time. If your business is on a tight budget, prefer an affordable service, especially if you don’t require much advanced functionality. Fortunately, most services can provide a pleasant conference calling experience, whether they lack the whistles and bells of more premium platforms.
#5 – Help and Support
At times, conference calls can be very complicated, because they have a lot of moving parts. You will have to deal with different callers who are from different locations and they use different equipment. If you make use of extra web features, such as video calling, there will be more potential for something to go wrong, and technical difficulties can bring your workday to a screeching halt. These are some reasons why you’ll need a conference calling platform that has a top-notch help and support features.
The best services provide email and telephone support, and the ability to troubleshoot live via web chat with a customer service representative. The ability to host a call that is monitored by an operator who can help if you go wrong somewhere is another great feature, especially if you’re new to managing conference calls. Finally, to assist you get started as a new conference service user, you can really benefit from online video tutorials that are provided by some services.