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5 Conference Call Services for Small Business to Experience the Flawless Communication
Communication is a crucial factor in both everyday and business life. No matter if you decided to quit your job and start your own small business, you still need to get yourself prepared for daily communication with customers, clients, or partners.Many contemporary companies have developed collaboration with international firms, and that's why they need a conference call service that would facilitate the everyday or occasional communication with their allies across the sea. Luckily, there is plenty of options available nowadays, and all you need to do is find a perfect one that will meet your needs. All the services offer more or less similar features, and they mostly differ in price and purposes. This article will present you the most vital characteristics of the best conference call services, and the factors you should consider when purchasing the one you find the most suitable for your business needs.
Understanding Business Conference Call Services
Conference call services allow you to host calls with multiple participants using either a phone system, any hardware or software with a monthly subscription, or a free platform.When it comes to choosing the best solution for your business needs, you should have in mind some factors that determine the quality of the product. As mentioned earlier, not all the services offer the same features, but the ten following factors are critical for the best experience:
- Call quality: This factor should be considered as the most crucial one – so, try to find the service that offers high-definition (HD) audio and video calls.
- Call controls: Call controls such as call muting, caller announcement, call scheduling, and other features regarding calls are also essential when it comes to selecting the best service.
- Caller limitations: Almost every service comes with a limited number of attendees that can be added to the call. Choose the service that suits your needs (you might not need the one that includes 1,000 participants), and make sure it’s got an option for adding a caller once the call has started.
- Call recordings: Recording is quite a crucial feature, primarily if you work as a journalist and you need to record an interview. Most services include this option, as well as the ability to transcribe the record of the conference call.
- Customer support: As for all the products, professional and responsive customer service is quite an essential factor. So, find a conference call service that offers a 24/7 customer support via phone, e-mail or live chat – that way, you won’t have to worry about the potential problems.
- Compatibility: Don't purchase the service until you're sure it works perfectly on your device. For instance, if you use the program on your smartphone, read the customer reviews, and comments about how it works on particular OS – the users won't lie about their experience.
- Integrations: Many conference call services come with some useful app integrations, including calendar, note-taking apps, and other essential software that enhance your user practice.
- International access: International access allows your participants from abroad to join the conference call at any time.
- Price: There are both free and paid versions available – still, you should first go for a free one, or at least choose a free trial. That way, you'll get to know what your preferences are, and that'll help you select the service with more advanced features later.
- Setup and user-friendliness: The software’s interface should be intuitive and easy-to-use. If it takes you time to find the option you need when making a call, then the service might not be the right one. Again, a free trial helps you discover that.
The thing you should also have in mind is the stable Internet connection. If the signal is weak, you might be facing some inconveniences – so, check that if you notice call dropping, screen freezing, bad audio, or similar issues.Besides, a laptop, a computer, or a smartphone that don't function well can cause service failure.
What are the Best Conference Call Solutions for Small Business?
Now that we know the basics of the business conference call platforms, we can go ahead and see the best representatives. We'll list their strengths and weaknesses, as well as the pricing and the primary purpose of their use.
1. Skype – The Best Conference Call Service for Small Business and Solopreneurs
Skype is the old-school software that connects people from all around the world. Apart from its everyday, personal use, it can serve perfectly for conference calls for small business that don’t include a lot of people. This is an excellent solution for those who have started their small businesses recently, and since it’s cost-free, you can enjoy its features as long as you find them useful.
- Free conference call services: Even though it’s about a ‘regular’ Skype, it supports a group audio and video calls for up to 25 people. That's quite suitable for beginners who don't need more people at the conference.
- File and screen sharing: This is an advantageous feature when it comes to showing the participants some crucial papers, documents, or tutorials. That way, they can see everything directly from your screen.
- Top-notch messaging: Skype is famous for its outstanding messaging capabilities – there is no message delay, and the chat between you and your participants goes flawlessly.
- Broad compatibility: Skype is compatible with Windows, Mac, Linux, Android, and iOS – accordingly, it functions perfectly on every device – laptop, computer, tablet, or smartphone. Besides, if your Apple Watch or Android wear are paired with the devices you have Skype on, you'll receive the notifications of new messages and incoming calls on them.
- Limited customer service: Skype doesn’t include any phone number for customer service, so you can only submit your problem online – that can be quite inconvenient, especially when you use skype for conference calls when you need detailed instructions for solving the issue.
- Caller limits: Skype is limited to only 25 participants – that can be enough, but once your preferences change, you’ll need to switch to another business conference call service.
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2. AT Conference – Conference Call Service with the Most Robust Features
AT Conference is one of the best conference call services that includes a variety of useful features for both small businesses and enterprises. It includes reservationless and operator-assisted conference calls, which means that you can manage them the way it suits you best, using your landline or mobile phone.
- Web conferencing: If you plan on hosting a web conference, you can upload documents or presentations before the conference has started – that way, you can share them in real-time, while the meeting is still on.
- Excellent customer support: AT Conference offers e-mail, phone, and live chat support. Besides, there are a lot of guides and video tutorials you can find on their website, and they can help you solve any problem regarding the software.
- Multiple calling options: You can schedule the operated-assistant calls (more sophisticated and formal option), or you can make a call any time you want, 24/7. These calls don't need to be announced to the company if there are less than 125 participants – if there are more, the company requires a 24-hours' notice.
- Great integrations: AT Conference integrates well with Microsoft Outlook, which makes it easier for you to send the invitations to meeting attendees. All the conference room details will be added to the e-mail automatically, and all you need to do is add a personal message, if necessary.
- Payment plans: AT Conference uses the pay-as-you-go plan, which means that you pay only for the minutes you use – in that case, you have the unlimited number of participants. If you opt for web conferencing, you can choose a monthly subscription of $39, but you’ll be limited to 15 participants only. Overall, there are better plans available.
- Limited international access: This company supports only 50 countries outside of the U.S. that you can include in your conference calls. Again, some services cover almost every country worldwide.
3. Cisco WebEx – The Best Solution for the Video Conferencing Calls
If you want to experience an outstanding video conferencing calls solution, have a look at Cisco WebEx. It’s got quite useful features when it comes to meetings and conferences, and you can try it for free and use it for 14 days until you decide whether it’s the right option for you.
- Free version: You can opt for a free version which includes one host license, VoIP audio connection, desktop and document sharing, a whiteboard, standard-quality video, and 250MB of cloud storage – quite a generous offer!
- Advanced video conferencing features: All paid plans include excellent video conferencing features, including seven video feeds, screen sharing, conference recording (both audio and video), and the ability to share the presenter role.
- Hosts’ ‘power’: The hosts of the meeting or the conference can do anything – mute and unmute the attendees, lock and unlock the focus on the participant so that all the attendees can see who’s talking at the moment, record the meeting, and end it.
- Functional mobile app: WebEx’s mobile app is found quite responsive and functional by the users – you can use it to schedule meetings, share the screen, and do many other things on the go. Also, it’s considered one of the best business meeting apps you can find available.
- Limited customer support: There are various sources of customer support, including e-mail, live chat, and phone support. Still, the latter can be used only by the users of the paid version.
- Confusing pricing plans: If you want to purchase a paid premium, you’ll need to fill a form and send it to the company or call them. This is time-consuming due to the fact that almost all the conference call services offer a clear pricing plan.
4. FreeConferenceCall – The Best Free Conference Call Service for Small Business
Among all the software offered at no cost, this is the best free conference call service you can find available. FreeConferenceCall is entirely free of charge, and there are no hidden tricks that might appear after some time. This service is reliable, robust, and easy-to-use, which is why it is very popular among businesspeople.
- A thousand participants for free: With this free conference call service, you get more participants than you get from most paid platforms. Hence, give it a try.
- Top-notch security: FreeConferenceCall uses the encryption standards and firewall to make sure you and your data are entirely protected.
- Host & Participate in meetings: You can both host and participate in meetings and conferences organized with this software. Besides, you can use it for various purposes, such as online training, church groups, membership associations, or any business purposes.
- Outstanding audio quality: The users of this platform are quite satisfied with the sound quality – they all claim that they have never had problems with it, as well as that the sound is even better than the sound offered by most of the paid apps.
- Screen sharing requires the download of the web app: Unlike most of its competitors, FCC requires you and your participants to download the desktop app in order to allow the screen sharing.
- Hold music: Most users express their dissatisfaction because of the hold music, which is a bit outdated.
5. GoToMeeting – The Solution for the Best Business Conferences and Frequent Meetings
GoToMeeting is one of the most used conferencing call platforms. Apart from offering a conference calling for small business, it’s also known for its webinar software used by a lot of people. GoToMeeting offers a free trial and free version as well, which is a great advantage.
- Individual URL: GoToMeeting allows you to set a unique URL that will facilitate you and your attendees entering the meeting or conference. Instead of remembering access codes and other information, you can simply enter the URL and attend the meeting.
- Meeting protection: Now you can protect your meeting with a password – you need to e-mail all the participants separately, and the platform won't send the e-mail on your behalf. Once the host has started the meeting, all the attendees will be asked to enter the password, which won't be saved by the service provider.
- Responsive customer support and detailed training: GoToMeeting offers quite a responsive customer support which is available around the clock, as well as the one-to-one training you can sign up in order to get detailed instructions on how to schedule meetings and manage in-session features.
- Cloud-based services: The users mostly like the cloud-based platform, which allows them to access and manage their information from any device with an Internet connection. Also, this option provides scheduling meetings on the go, which is quite convenient for those who spend a lot of time outside the office.
- Impossible to record video calls: This might be a huge drawback because people use to record the calls in order to share them with partners or colleagues who couldn’t attend the meeting.
- No drawing tools in video conferences: Again, this might not be convenient for people who organize presentations or lectures and want to highlight some important stuff so that the attendees can follow them better.