Googling “conference call” makes one’s head spin. Google dishes up a barrage of offers. How do you determine the service that best meets your needs? Under the adage “knowledge is power,” this article examines some conference call myths and truths. Try searching “Web 2.0 audio conferencing”
Myth #1: Some conference call services are free! Truth: Somebody is paying. Make sure the plug isn’t pulled on your call.
How do you hold a “free” supplier accountable? You can’t. If you are not being charged for the service, then the supplier is receiving the revenue to run the service in some other way. Audio conferencing platforms have real, ongoing overhead costs that someone is paying for. Before deciding to rely on the services of a “free” supplier, determine their revenue model. Otherwise, you may find yourself having to cancel an important meeting because your “free” supplier decided to go on vacation. Audio conferencing suppliers can offer “free” services for a number of reasons including:
- Selling your name to third parties. Ask: What if the name-selling business revenue model fails; is reliability important?
- Selling advertising. Ask: What if advertising revenues dwindle; will the lights go off at the service?
- Getting a sponsor to pay for it because the sponsor receives some other benefit from the vendor. Ask: What if the sponsorship drops, where does that leave me?
- Hoping you’ll upgrade to their value-added services. Ask: Do these services enhance my productivity, or do they slow me down? Are cheap and free services actually costing me more in the end anyway?
For business-critical communications, where dropped and poor quality calls mean delayed or canceled meetings, the cost of wasted time is much more costly to your profitability than the cost of the calls.
Myth #2: Your conference call vendor bundles all its services in one price. Truth: Read the fine print. The devil is in the details.
While this is true with a few vendors, by and large this is not true. Some prominent vendors advertise a low per minute rate, and then require the customer to pay for an operator for calls over 15 people. This sort of “bait-and-switch” tactic means the average rate paid per minute is actually much higher than the “carrot and stick” low rate the customers thought they were paying. Some vendors choose not to play tricks on their customers. Unless you enjoy the bait-and-switch game, you should consider the honest suppliers who truly have one-price rating for their services.
Myth #3: All conference call vendors are alike. Truth: This used to be true, but not anymore.
In the old days, audio conferencing used to be about connecting wires. Most of the audio conferencing technology still in widespread use today uses this old technology “under the covers.” This is the reason features are limited to just one flavor–plain vanilla. That is, you get a call-in PIN and a dial-in number and call at the appointed time. With the advent of the web, new technologies are emerging that marry the best of traditional audio conferencing with new web-based productivity features. These services can make your audio conference calls much more efficient and effective. These are the vendors you should look for. This means sorting through the maze to find them. Try searching “Web 2.0 audio conferencing”.
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