With everyone talking about unified communications (UC) and collaboration including web and video, standard audio conferencing does not really get discussed very often. However, many more people use audio conferencing than have invested in UC and video conferencing. Within many businesses, staff spend a considerable amount of time in meetings and when everyone is not available in the same location this quite often involves audio conferencing people into the meeting. Or if meeting rooms are not available the meeting may just be an audio conference.
What is audio conferencing?
Audio Conferencing is a telephone meeting conducted between multiple separate callers (three callers define a “conference”). The type of telephone used can vary but typically an audio conference includes attendees that use handheld wired telephones (such as those at a person’s business office or home), conference room speakerphones that can be shared by several people, or individual cellular or mobile telephones or VOIP. Audio conferencing services use something called a conference bridge that callers dial into to connect to the audio conference in progress.
Benefits of audio conferencing
- Participants can use any ordinary phone line to dial in and join the meeting
- Telephone conferencing is easy to do and affordable
- There are many phone conferencing packages that are available
- Save on travel expenses and reduce time away from the office
- Businesses are not restricted to one particular geographic location. Even the team members who work on a single project can be spread across the world
- Promotes frequent and effective communication
- Sales conferences, monthly meetings, quarterly updates, regular client meetings etc. can be scheduled
- Increase productivity with a simple to use platform
- Set up quick, multi-party meetings without an organising central location
- Reliable and secure service that functions 24 hours a day
- User friendly and can be set up quickly and easily
Audio conferencing is widely used. There are certainly many benefits and are convenient, but as we have seen with a number of clients recently a reasonable amount of audio conferencing cost can be avoided if manged properly.
Issues with audio conferencing
- They are certainly more costly than standard calling especially when many business users have unlimited calls in their mobile plans
- It can almost be too convenient and is used when not really needed, one to one calls or when one person needs to dial in
- If clients, suppliers or other 3rd parties are required to call in they may experience unexpected cost or you will need to pick up these costs
Audio conferencing can be relatively costly per minute. Overall this may be relatively small compared to the overall telecommunication spend and can just be accepted as a necessary business cost but it does not have to be.
TeleConsultants recommend reviewing audio conferencing costs and ensuring audio conferencing is used properly. When looking at these costs annually they can add up so is it the most cost effective solution? There are a number of areas to review.
- The most basic is the rates. Are they comparative with other services in the market
- Can your office telephony platform provide free audio conferencing? Most telephony platforms provide 3-6 party calling from a single handset. Some even provide dial in numbers to use this feature
- Can your office telephony platform be upgraded to allow free audio conferencing? This is not really free as it may require some upfront investment however it will remove future cost. Depending on how much you are paying each month this may be a cost effective upgrade
- Educate your users. Once you have reviewed how best to reduce some costs make sure you let users know how you want them to user audio conferencing cost effectively
This month have a quick look at what you are paying for audio conferencing and work out what this represents annually. If this is adding up to a reasonable sum of money then let us know. We are happy to help look at your options.