What to Look for in a Conference Service

Do you need to set up a reliable phone conferencing or web conferencing service for your business, but don’t know where to begin? With all of the free and paid services available out there, it can be hard to sift through and compare the many service features offered to find something that will be right for your business and reliable through the weeks, months, or years you plan to use it.

Ask yourself, or a sales agent with the conferencing company, the following essential questions while you’re shopping for a new service. These are the must-haves that ensure you’ll never go wrong with your choice for quality conferencing!

What is the cost (and, more importantly, the value)?

Is that free service really going to perform well for important business calls and meetings? Is that top-of-the-line company justified in charging so much more than a competitor with nearly the same quality of service? Don’t take phone or web conferencing costs at face value until you look a little deeper at what you’re getting out of the deal. Consider the value of how well a service can answer all of the questions in this guide before you make a cost-based decision.

Sign up for a free trial, ask for a demo, or do some research into others’ recommendations and complaints to get a picture of a service’s true value. In particular, make sure the features you want don’t come at a ridiculous extra cost to you, and that there are no hidden fees in the fine print of an agreement. Look out for taxes that do not have to be collected (apart from a Universal Service Fee, which is an appropriate tax collected by the FCC).

What features are available and which do I need?

Every audio and video conference service will come with a range of features, both standard and unique, to help improve your conferencing experience. Make sure any service has all the features you need, but doesn’t bundle together a bunch more that you don’t. Check that you’re not paying extra for a whole host of features when you only needed one of them—which another service may offer at no additional cost.

After you quickly browse what’s advertised by most companies, make your own list of features that you want and prioritize them so you can more easily research and compare. You should also inquire about adding on features later in your service—there may be elements you’d never think to use now but will become essential as your business or conferencing grows and evolves. Your service should be able to grow with you.

How easy is it to reach a customer service operator?

Call the customer service number provided for the conferencing company. Is it easy to find in the first place? See what the process is like to reach an operator and how long it takes. You can even chat briefly with a customer service representative to gauge how friendly and helpful they are. It’s essential that you’ll be able to reach an attentive and knowledgable person right away if you run into an issue or question while using the service.

You can even politely ask customer service what some of the most common reasons are for customers to call them. A sincere company will give you an honest answer about this. You can also check independent reviews of the service if they’re available online to get a better picture of the typical client experience.

What is the quality of reliability?

Does the company use dedicated lines for conference calls? Do they guarantee participant capacity? How is the video quality for a web conference? These are the kinds of questions you should be able to answer by looking at the company’s website or talking to one of their sales agents about any given service. It’s essential not just that audio, video, and usability are of good quality, but that they are consistent every time.

Ask if you can do a demo of a phone or web conference, ideally with a number of other people in your office joining in. You may not be able to replicate the exact numbers and conditions that you’ll have on a typical conference, but you’ll get an idea of the general quality and ease of use of the service before you buy.

Do I need to sign a contract?

Determine whether or not you need to sign a contract to begin your service. Just as with any agreement, you should read the fine print and know exactly what you’re getting into. Find out whether a contract works to your advantage by giving you a reduced, fixed rate, or if it is a disadvantage because you end up with extra upfront costs or the risk of getting “locked in” to a service even if they raise their prices or you no longer wish to use it.

A great conferencing company should be upfront with all of their agreements without having any hidden costs, unclear fine print, or price hikes. Ideally, you should have the option of a “pay-as-you-use” or month-to-month service plan that will allow you to use and end the service whenever you like without committing to a longer-term plan right off the bat.

What’s the company’s reputation?

Who is the company that’s offering a conferencing service, and how long have they been in business? What are their ratings and awards, and who are their other clients? A company’s reputation in their field speaks volumes about the quality of their services before you even begin looking at the plans themselves. Finding out as much as possible about the people behind the technology is key to determining the best all-around experience.

Again, you should check out independent reviews available for a company, any testimonials provided on the company website (with credible full names and company names attached to them), and even ask other businesses in your industry if they have any impressions of a given company before you buy into their services.

What kind of customization do you need?

Do you need special accommodations for international callers on a conference call? Custom branding and URL for your webinars? Recording ability that will allow you to easily download and access the conference later? Make sure there are features in place to address your specific needs at little to no extra cost to you, if possible.

Ask a sales or customer service representative about the custom features you need and what they have available. A great company will be willing to work with you to design a custom package of features and make whatever accommodations they reasonably can for you.

At Conference Calls Unlimited, we provide full-featured, reliable phone conferencing and web conferencing services at cost-effective flat rates and affordable packages. We’ve been in business for over 20 years, but have remained a small company in order to dedicate ourselves to top-quality, personalized customer service.

But don’t just take our word for it! Use this guide to ask us, yourselves, and other companies the right questions to determine the conference service that is truly right for you.