Business Tech

When to switch from free conference call services

As your business grows, the tools you use to facilitate day-to-day processes become more and more critical. But since almost every small business owner is looking for ways to save money, it’s not always easy to take the plunge and find options that fit better but cost more.  

However, you may be surprised at how your free conference call service could let you down. While it may not be a huge problem today, you could find yourself wishing you had done your research earlier to find a high-quality conference call service with additional functions, convenience and support. 

Here are a few key conference call features to consider when you decide that it might be time to make the switch from a free to a paid service. 

Meeting duration  

Just imagine: you’re having a great conversation with a potential investor, screen sharing and showing slides that show Q1 performance. But before you know it, you’re out of time because your free conference call service has a 45-minute limit. 

While you might be able to open another call, time limits can interrupt the conversation in a way that may not be recoverable. Paid services have much more generous time limits (5 to 24 hours, on average) to ensure that this will not become an issue. 

Options and tools 

Paid conference call options can include some indispensable basics such as scheduling, invites, recording and administrative dashboards. Using a free service, you can miss out on being able to schedule your meetings ahead of time, call recording and even dedicated customer support.  

Plus, conference calls have evolved beyond a single faceless host and no options for visual aids. Access to video, file sharing and screen sharing have created an environment that’s easier than ever to collaborate. These kinds of benefits can dramatically expand the impact of a typical dial-in call. While free services provide some of these tools, paid services tend to offer far greater functionality and customization. 

Software integration 

While some free services can integrate with your existing calendar, there are many other ways that integration matters for your business. For example, a paid service might allow you to send an invitation to a meeting directly from your contact list or let your clients skip extra steps when trying to join a meeting.  

Collaboration software that integrates online chat with conference calls means you can use the same platform to chat with colleagues and jump onto a call when the need arises, too. Software like this can also help make an online meeting far more productive if an all-in-one tool allows you to talk, share your screen, send files, collaborate on documents in real-time and much more.  

Integration with systems already in use at your business is crucial. It can result in productive meetings much faster than a range of disconnected services that don’t work right the first time. 

Adaptability for your growing business 

If you have a client traveling internationally who will be calling into your meeting, are they going to incur long-distance charges to do so? How about if you plan to hold a large presentation or webinar to market a new product?  

Paid services tend to scale better as you grow since many offer different tiers of service that have benefits that fit the size of your business. Free services often have a hard limit on the number of people who can attend a meeting, for instance. Make sure your conference call service can handle your business needs for the foreseeable future to avoid a costly and potentially confusing new rollout. 

IT and administrative support 

IT support goes hand in hand with growth. As your business grows and you begin to hold more extensive and elaborate calls, you may require additional help setting up that live event. Getting invitations sent out to hundreds of attendees, making sure the meeting is recorded and stored correctly and having easy access to active tech support are all benefits of many paid services.  

Consistently available, 24-hour support can help you with technical difficulties, setup and maintenance. Having those additional administrative tools can help avoid costly delays and make the entire process much smoother. 

Meeting security  

The information shared during these meetings can sometimes be highly sensitive. Having easy access to your session is great for your attendees, but if it’s too easy, you may unknowingly leave the door open for your competitors (or cyberattacks). In a poll of 2,000 workers, 25 percent of senior management admitted to having strangers show up on a conference call. 

Consider a service that offers access codes or two-factor authentication for additional layers of security. Make sure that whatever service you choose offers robust security options to ensure only the right people are listening in. 

Keep in mind, if your business is ready for a paid video conferencing solution, a small investment can go a long way. A paid conference call tool that matches your needs will offer more options, such as file sharing and security, and will help boost productivity and ensure consistent, open lines of communication.  

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Business Insights and Ideas does not constitute professional tax or financial advice. You should contact your own tax or financial professional to discuss your situation..