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Grow Your Business Technology

Reservationless vs. Operator-Assisted Conferencing Systems: Which is Best?

Reservationless vs operator-assisted
Credit: vectorfusionart/Shutterstock

The global nature of work hasn't cut down on the need for people to communicate face-to-face. In fact, it's increased the importance for technologies like video conferencing, which enables teams to interact with one another and connect with those from other organizations regardless of where everyone is located.

While there are plenty of services available for video calls (think Skype and its string of competitors, such as ClickMeeting, Join.me and Amazon Chime with Vonage), sometimes a business needs a higher level of service and capability.

For some organizations, an operator-assisted conferencing system may be the way to go. With this type of technology, the conferencing provider has an assistant who helps with nearly every aspect of your call, from arranging the call and coordinating with everyone's schedule to ensuring that video and audio quality are up to par. Some even offer translation services.

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There are many providers out there, such as Arkadin, and many of the features vary, so check to see what's offered and if it matches your needs. Some of the options these services offer may include:

  • Scheduling assistance
  • Tracking and introducing callers on the line
  • Technical support
  • Transcripts
  • Translation

Usually, operator assistance is necessary or makes a significant difference with conferences that involve dozens or hundreds of attendees, such as shareholder conference calls.

For less-formal situations, though, a reservationless conference call is the best option. Many services offer this for free. This means, however, that you or someone in your organization will be responsible for doing the legwork to find a service that is right for your business's needs.

You might be surprised to learn that many free conference calling plans include features like a custom greeting, outbound calls, recording tools and some type of web interface to track who has joined or left the call. [Interested in video conferencing services? Check out our best picks.]

As you investigate free services, pay attention to audio and video quality. Just because it's free doesn't mean that the quality should be subpar. The free offering is typically the gateway to an enhanced level of service. If a company wants to move you to a higher subscription tier (or to operator-assisted calls), the service and the quality of the free plan should be superb. Also, check out what international access looks like, including any restrictions and how the fees vary based on which countries people are calling in from. Free Conference is a popular option, but there are others to consider, like West UC. As with any service, it's worth testing it before committing.

If your organization conducts conference calls that would benefit from a human assistant, then operator-assisted is likely the way to go. Regardless of which option you choose, there's no reason not to get your entire team together, even if they're spread around the globe.

Derek Walter

Derek Walter is the founder of Walter Media, which offers writing and content strategy services. He is also the author of Learning MIT App Inventor: A Hands-On Guide to Building Your Own Android Apps.