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 10 conference call services.
At Top Ten Reviews, we have evaluated a solid product line of all things conferencing. While video and web chats have their importance in corporate communication, we took it back a step and have ranked the best conference calling services.
Unless you are moving into a new office as a first time startup, there's a good chance that your business already uses a conference call service. Whether this is the first time you've researched these products or you are looking for better rates, you want the clearest calls and the best value. Through testing and evaluation, we have compiled the 10 best conference call services.
For this specific lineup, we tested audio or teleconferencing services. Using these services, you can instantly start meetings using only a phone. Typically, this is done through smartphones or speakerphones. No downloads, interface access or compatibility issues get in your way. Essentially, these services allow you to pick up a phone and meet with a large group of people.
If your business needs a form of face-to-face interaction, there are several options from which to choose. Web conferencing, for example, uses an application and a webcam, and it allows you to conduct business meetings with small audiences, usually of up to 10 people. Very little preparation is needed to begin a web conference; at most, it requires a simple 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, take a look at our articles on conference calls.
When you sign up for a plan with an audio conference service, you should expect to receive a simple service that lets you plan meetings and connect with every attendee. 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.
The hardware you use to distribute your call can play a big role in how it sounds. For this reason, we used the same speakerphone for every audio test and were consistent with the types of phones we called out to.
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 quality or volume with every added participant. We also recorded the number of times calls were dropped on both sides. The lowest quality score was 70 percent, which shows that even the lowest ranked of the 10 reviewed services still manages to produce better than average call quality.
Sitting just outside the top three products, AccuConference has an extremely high quality score. This was earned not only for the service’s clarity, but for the interactivity allowed to each participant.
Ease of Use
Our usability tests are based on the user experience of the meeting host, but we also considered the ease of use for call participants. Joining a call should be as simple as answering the phone and clicking a specified URL.
We favored programs that allowed us to create an instant account we could log in to easily every time. From there, we looked to see if we could share with programs like Microsoft Outlook or Gmail using the service. This allows you to create meetings and invite others through email.
Most of the visuals used during a conference call are displayed to attendees using 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 simplicity and easy-to-follow prompts.
Once again, we found 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 app, which allows for easy polling, chat and surveys.
Top Ten Reviews seeks, whenever possible, to evaluate all products and services in hands-on tests that simulate as closely as possible the experiences of a typical consumer. We obtained the services through purchase and free trials. The companies had no input or influence over our test methodology, nor was the methodology provided to any of them in more detail than is available through reading our reviews. Results of our testing were not provided to the companies in advance of publication.
Our lineup consists of the 10 services that we found to be the strongest in the industry. These services all have what we consider to be standard features for teleconferencing applications.
Each program 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. While a few programs may be harder to use, the option is still available. Each dashboard gives the presenter the option to pass on controls of a shared screen to a participant. Also, once you set a meeting, you can set automated invites and replies when someone RSVPs.
The conference calling industry is surprisingly competitive, but we found a few unique reasons to invest in particular services. Conference Calling from Vast Conference provides operator assistance on conference calls for a few cents extra. You have the advantage of sharing call recordings on public and private social media sites when you use Infinite Conferencing. WebEx provides great interactive features like an easy-to-use whiteboard.