If you’re looking to implement a conference calling service for your business it can be a little overwhelming trying to work out the best option. There are lots of providers, all claiming to do similar things. Each will allow you to collaborate with colleagues and clients from from any location, so does it really matter which one you choose?
Well, with any conference calling platform, most businesses have the same basic requirements:
- A secure, reliable, accessible platform to communicate with 2 or more people at once.
- Good call quality
- A simple, fool-proof way to join each conference
- Overseas access when required
Some businesses will require further features, such as:
- Web access for video conferencing, screen sharing and online presentations
- Audio/video recording
- An archive of call history
- Scheduling options, calendar integration, custom branding
Know your requirements
The good news is that many UK conference call providers offer most/all of the features listed above. But it can be useful to start by thinking specifically about your business’s needs.
What are you actually trying to achieve with conference calling? Is there a problem you’re trying to solve? What would typically be the purpose of each conference call? You should have a rough idea of this stuff so that providers can advise you of the best solution.
Approach a provider with a bullet point list of requirements. It doesn’t take long to put together and will really help you narrow down your search. A good provider will listen and respond with honesty and useful information. The response you get will tell you a lot!
After all you need a provider that demonstrates good customer support, with help available when you need it – handy when John from accounting is having trouble joining his own conference room.
UK-friendly phone numbers
If you’re a UK business looking at conferencing services, make sure you’re clued up on how much you and your conference participants will be charged for dialling in by phone.
Many conferencing platforms will now allow you to choose whether you join by phone, or using the internet. And whilst online conferencing offers some of the more advanced features mentioned above, simple telephone conferencing is still hugely popular.
This is where we need to talk about something important.
The dial-in number.
Opt for 01/02/03 or Freephone numbers
If you’re UK based, make sure your service uses either an 01, 02, 03 or 0800 (freephone) number for dialling into the conference room. Even if you use a business phone system for most calls, there will often be times where participants need to dial-in using their mobiles, or even their home phones.
Some UK services use premium rate numbers such as 0845 which can carry very high per minute rates, especially from mobiles. 01/02/03 numbers are different because they all count towards the ‘inclusive minutes‘ on UK mobile (and landline) contracts.
Read customer reviews
Every provider will claim to have great call quality, the best feature set and ‘affordable’ pricing on any paid options. So one of the best things you can do is search for customer reviews online for the conferencing service you’re looking at.
See if you can identify any trends in what people are saying. If there are any negative reviews, check whether they seem justified, and whether the provider has responded to them well. It’s important to get independent opinions rather than getting sucked in to marketing hype or fancy features.
Decide on a couple of options and get testing
Make a list of providers and narrow down your search to two or three that would best suit your organisation. Do some test calls with a colleague and if all goes well start to use test the system in earnest.