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 Business.com 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.