Conference Call Services Review
Why Use Conference Call Services?
The top performers in our review are Conference Calling, the Gold Award winner; Infinite Conferencing, the Silver Award winner; and WebEx, the Bronze Award winner. Here's more on choosing a service to meet your needs, along with detail on how we arrived at our ranking of these 10 conference call services.
The importance of connecting with your team members and clients in real time cannot be overlooked. While email and live chat are convenient and necessary components of your business's operations, there are many instances where talking on the phone is the best option; whether it's for a recurring team meeting or to discuss a more serious matter.
If you are looking to replace your existing conference call service or if you are a first-time buyer, this article and our reviews will help you find the right audio conferencing service for you.
Is Conferencing Calling What Your Business Needs?
For our review, we only tested audio teleconferencing services. Using these services, you can instantly start meetings using a phone, speakerphone or smartphone. Essentially, these services allow you to pick up a phone and host a meeting with a large group of people.
If your business needs a form of face-to-face interaction, instead of an audio connection, there are several options. Web conferencing, for example, uses an application and a webcam, and it allows you to conduct business meetings with small audiences. Very little preparation is needed to begin a web conference; at most, it requires a simple software download for participants.
Webinars, on the other hand, require a lot of preparation for the host, but not for participants. These meetings are also visually based, and the host leading the meeting generally speaks to a large group of people while a slideshow presentation is shown. The main benefit of this service is that it allows you to record and distribute the finished product to those who couldn't watch it live.
Webcasts are similar to webinars in that the final product of the meeting can be distributed. They require no interaction between the host and attendees beyond emailing the meeting video URL. For more information about business calls, read our articles on conference calls.
Which Teleconference Service is Right For Your Budget?
When you are considering a teleconferencing service, it is important to consider your company's budget and how often you make conference calls. Some services charge you by the minute, while others offer monthly plans where you pay a flat rate each month regardless of how much or how little you use the service.
If you do not host conference calls frequently, then a per-minute plan might be best for you. This way you pay only for the minutes you use, rather than spending money each month on a service you rarely use. Budget Conferencing is one service that offers a pay-as-you-go structure.
However, if conference calling is something your company frequently does, then a monthly plan is the better option for your budget. Conference Calling offers monthly plans that let you make calls to the U.S. and Canada without worrying about minutes.
Conference Calling Services: What We Tested, What We Found
When you sign up with an audio conference service, you should expect a service that lets you easily plan meetings and connect with attendees. Still, there are factors to consider that contribute to how simple your setup and call delivery experiences are, and these could make or break important meetings. To find the best teleconference services, we tested all 10 of the services on our lineup and rated them.
At Top Ten Reviews we seek to appraise services using hands-on tests that mimic real-use scenarios and the experiences of a typical customer. We evaluated conference calling services and their platforms independently. The companies we evaluated had no input, influence or prior knowledge of their rankings prior to publication.
The hardware you use for your calls plays a big role in how it sounds. For this reason, we used the same speakerphone and hardware for all of the tests we conducted.
We evaluated the quality of our calls as more attendees joined the conference. Attendees were asked to put their phones on mute so we could determine if there was a decrease in clarity or volume with each new participant. We recorded the number of times calls were dropped on both sides. The lowest call quality score was 70 percent, which shows that even the lowest-ranked service produces good sound quality.
Although it didn't make our top three list, Arkadin has an extremely high quality score.
Ease of Use
Our ease-of-use tests are based on the user experience of the meeting host, but we also considered ease of use for call participants. Joining a call should be as simple as dialing a number and, if the meeting is restricted, entering a passcode.
We favored services that allowed us to log in easily every time. From there, we looked to see if we could share documents using programs like Microsoft Outlook or Gmail using the service. This allows you to create meeting notices and invite others through email.
If you add a visual element to your conference call, most of the visuals are displayed to participants who have enabled screen sharing. You should be able to share your entire screen or specific files and videos. You don't want your meetings to hit a snag because the dashboard is hard to use. Because of this, we looked for services that were simple and straightforward and had prompts that were easy to follow.
The lowest-ranked service received a score of 70 percent. The average score for these conference call services was 80 percent. Zip Conferencing received an above-average score of 80 percent due to its mobile app, which allows for easy polling, chat and surveys.
What to Expect From Audio Conferences
Our final list consists of the 10 services we found to be the strongest in the industry. They all have what we consider to be standard features for teleconferencing applications.
Each conference calling service on our list allows you to make international calls for an extra charge. They also provide some form of interactive web controls in the form of a simple dashboard. Each dashboard gives the presenter the option to pass the controls of a shared screen to a participant. Also, once you set up a meeting, you can set automated invites and replies when someone RSVPs.
Our Verdict & Recommendations
The conference calling industry is surprisingly competitive, but we found a few unique benefits among the services on our list that may be beneficial for you. Conference Calling from Vast Conference provides operator assistance on conference calls for a small, additional cost. You have the advantage of sharing call recordings on public and private social media sites when you use Infinite Conferencing. RingCentral provides great interactive features like easy-to-use document sharing.
The conference calling service you pick depends on your business and its needs. However, each service you look at should be easy to use for both you, the host, and your attendees. Each service on our lineup offers basic conference call features, like automated invites and document sharing, so when you're deciding which service you ultimately want to go with, you can focus more on premium features and whether it fits in with your company's budget.