How to choose the best conference call service for you
The best conference call service for you and your team depends on various factors, including the size of your business, the level of security you need, and extra features you’re interested in.
It may help to start with a comprehensive list of everything you need. Then, you can use that as you go through the decision-making process.
And as you create your list, don’t forget to include the following considerations.
Number of participants
A conference call with ten people is vastly different than a conference call with hundreds of participants.
So, it’s essential to consider your team’s size and the number of participants you expect for any given meeting. Some service providers include low limits, while others allow thousands of participants depending on the plan you choose.
Whether your meetings are confidential or not, security is an important feature to consider. Furthermore, it should be a priority rather than an afterthought.
So, make sure you consider:
The level of control over who can join the call
256-bit TLS encryption to make sure the line is secure
Security policies of the service provider
Furthermore, pay attention to how the provider stores your data and what they’re allowed to do with it if you use their services.
The world is more mobile and more distant than ever before. That said, mobile access is a crucial factor to consider when choosing a conference call service.
Giving employees and other meeting attendees the ability to join using their mobile device is convenient for everyone involved. And it may mean fewer cancellations plus more of the right participants joining in, even if they’re not at their desk.
So, ensure the service provider you choose includes mobile access.
Audio and video quality
A conference call with low audio and video can be incredibly frustrating. So, it’s crucial to choose a service provider with top-notch video and audio quality.
Of course, your internet connection plays a role. But you should carefully consider choosing a conference call service with HD video and audio capabilities for a smoother experience all around.
If you need other features, like a virtual phone system or the ability to host webinars, you can bundle conference calling services with software specializing in something else.
You may also want to consider other features, like:
It’s also important to consider if you need to buy new equipment to handle a conference call service you’re considering. Some software integrates directly with the hardware you already have, making setup and everyday use a breeze.
However, others may require special equipment or something newer than what you currently use. And they may require professional installation, as well, depending on the number of users you need.
Some may work with your employees’ personal phones, mitigating the need for separate business phones.
The different types of conference call services
There are two main types of conference call services: assisted and reservationless.
The one you’re probably most familiar with is reservationless. It’s the most common and easiest to use because you can do everything on your own. All you have to do is create a bridge and then share the link with anyone you want to join.
It’s perfect for small, informal meetings and regular conference calls.
Assisted conference calls are much more formal. However, they require you to rely on someone else to organize. Assisted calls are most commonly used for large events with attendees all over the world.
The operator organizes the call and may even help invite the right people. Plus, they usually greet attendees when they join and help manage the flow of your meetings.
While an actual human being traditionally does this, today’s technology has helped automate the process.
As such, many conference call services offer an auto-assistant to greet callers, create custom joining experiences, gather caller contact information, store it, highlight action items, and more.
#1 – GoToMeeting Review — The easiest conference call software
If you’re looking for an easy-to-use online conference call software, go with GoToMeeting. It’s an excellent option for both small and large businesses alike. Plus, it’s incredibly simple to set up.
In fact, you can host or join meetings in one click from your phone, your laptop, a conference room, or any remote location.
Furthermore, you can easily host and join audio, video, and web meetings as well. So, whether you’re the administrator or an attendee, it’s a smooth and seamless process for everyone involved.
With GoToMeeting, you get a ton of influential conference calling features, including:
Screen sharing of your desktop, laptop, smartphone, or tablet
VoIP conference calling
Face-to-face HD video conferencing
Intuitive, yet powerful, mobile access
Meeting recording and transcription
Internal and external instant messaging
Smart meeting assistant
25 video feeds per meeting
Plus, meeting participants can join using commuter mode, which helps them save mobile data and provides a distraction-free experience on their mobile devices.
Unlike most of the other options on this list, GoToMeeting doesn’t offer a free plan.
But their paid plans are incredibly affordable and accessible for businesses of all sizes. Those premium plans include:
Professional — $12 per organizer per month (up to 150 participants)
Business — $16 per organizer per month (up to 250 participants)
Enterprise — Custom pricing only (up to 3,000 participants)
#2 – RingCentral Review — The best all-inclusive communications tool
RingCentral is an all-in-one business communications platform encompassing instant messaging, video, and phone. So, it’s an excellent choice if you’re looking for a comprehensive communication tool.
Furthermore, it’s secure, easy to use, reliable, and accessible on any device.
Plus, you’re in excellent company with more than 400,000 customers worldwide.
And the best part? They offer an incredibly robust free plan for video conferencing. With it, you can meet with up to 100 participants (for up to 40 minutes) anytime from anywhere on any device.
The free plan also comes with incredible features, including:
Simultaneous screen sharing
Host controls and user management
Custom meeting IDs
HD voice and video
Whiteboarding and annotations
In-meeting chat capabilities
Unlimited file sharing
And their premium plans include advanced features like phone support, reporting, single sign on, and advanced team messaging tools.
RingCentral’s all-in-one office pricing is a bit expensive, with plans starting at $19.99 per user per month. However, those plans come with a ton of extra features, including everything you need to streamline business communications.
So, it’s an excellent choice if you need everything from SMS messaging and video conferencing to business phones and internet faxing for your entire team.
Alternatively, you can upgrade to a paid conferencing-only plan with RingCentral Meetings. Their Meetings plans include:
Essentials — $14.99 per organizer per month (for small businesses)
Advanced — $19.99 per organizer per month (for enterprise businesses)
#4 – Grasshopper Review — The best virtual business phone system
Grasshopper is a bit different than the other options on this list. Their software is a simple way to turn your personal phone into a business phone without worrying about buying new hardware.
So, if you’re a solopreneur or small team looking for an easy way to set up business phones for your team, Grasshopper is an excellent choice.
However, I don’t recommend going this route unless you actually need a virtual business phone system.
The software is incredibly easy to set up. All you have to do is select your phone number, choose a pricing plan, download the app, configure your settings, and you’re good to go.
It seriously takes just a few minutes and is incredibly easy to use. Aside from conference calling, you also get access to powerful features, including:
Toll-free, local, and vanity numbers
Instant response text messages
While most of the app features are incredibly easy to use, conference calling is a bit less traditional than the other options listed here. Rather than participants joining your call, you have to call them, making it more aligned with old-school conference calls.
But you get unlimited conference calls with up to ten participants and the added business-phone functionality all for an extremely affordable price.
Grasshopper’s paid plans include:
Solo — $26 per month for one phone number and three extensions
Partner — $44 per month for three phone numbers and six extensions
Small Business — $80 per month for five numbers and unlimited extensions
#6 – Google Meet Review — The best conference call service for G Suite users
Google Meet is the upgraded version (and replacement) of Google Hangouts.
And if you’re an avid Google fan and already use G Suite, Google Meet is entirely free for you to use, making it an excellent and affordable option for businesses of all sizes.
Furthermore, you don’t have to do anything to sign up if you already have a G Suite or Gmail account. All you have to do is head to the Google Meet page to open up a meeting room.
Doing so automatically pulls in your contacts and information, too.
The best part is that all of Google’s tools and software integrate seamlessly. So, you can quickly and easily jump straight into a video chat from their Chat tool, your calendar, or even your mobile device.
Plus, the free Google Meet tool includes intuitive features like:
US and international dial-in numbers
Secure Google global infrastructure
Encrypted video conferencing
No third-party plugins or software required
Built-in noise cancellation
On the Basic G Suite plan, you can host calls with up to 100 participants. If you need more than that, you’ll need to upgrade to the Business or Enterprise plan, which supports 150 and 250 participants, respectively.
#7 – Vast Conference — The best for assisted conference calls
If you’re interested in hosting formal, assisted conference calls, Vast Conference is the way to go. While they also offer reservationless meetings, their assisted conference call features are where they shine.
Operator-assisted calls require a bit more planning in advance. However, all you need to do is call their reservation desk to set up a time and date.
From there, you can choose the level of assistance you need for your event.
Operators can help with the planning of your event, show up live during your event for technical assistance and call quality, and deliver call recordings and participant lists afterward.
It’s like hiring the assistant you never knew you needed. On top of that, operator-assisted calls may also include:
Welcoming and identifying callers
Continuous assistance from staff
Up to 6,000 participants
A pre-conference room meeting
Triple-checked event transcriptions
These types of conference calls start at $0.16 per minute per line for a standard event and $0.19 per minute per line for premium events. Plus, there are no contracts or obligations as these are managed separately from their reservationless meeting services.
Vast’s reservationless plans are quite expensive compared to other options on this list. So, I don’t recommend it unless you’re using their operator-assisted services.
#8 – Bluejeans Meetings Review — The best conference call service for sound quality
If you need meetings with crystal clear sound quality, Bluejeans Meetings is definitely the way to go. Every plan includes Dolby voice audio with built-in noise reduction, spatial audio, and dynamic leveling.
Plus, you also get HD video, so you never have to worry about low quality.
Besides excellent sound and video quality, you also get access to a ton of influential conference calling features, even on the lowest-tier, including:
Unlimited 1:1 and group meetings
No time caps whatsoever
5 hours of hosted meeting recordings
Meeting highlight reels and action item tagging
Outlook and Google calendar integrations
Video pinning and content slider
Desktop and application sharing
Remote desktop control
Whiteboarding and annotations
Advanced host controls
Safe driving mode
Bluejeans is one of the most feature-rich options on this list. However, that comes with a steeper price point and fewer meeting participants allowed on each plan.
Plus, keep in mind you get excellent crystal-clear audio and video quality, making it feel like everyone’s in the same room. It also helps reduce dialog delays and ensures everyone speaks at the same level.
So if that’s something you need, the extra price is well worth it. Their pricing plans include:
Standard — $9.99 per month billed annually (for up to 50 participants)
Pro — $13.99 per month billed annually (for up to 75 participants)
Enterprise — Custom pricing only (for up to 100 participants)