One undeniable change in our society is the employment of remote work and relevant technologies. These days, video and audio calls are the new standard. With an audioconference, an office can meet virtually with over 50 people simultaneously. And since these calls do not rely on internet strength, you can set them up quickly and easily. Your less tech-savvy clients may even prefer them. For these reasons—and more—consider incorporating audioconferencing into your practice if you haven’t already done so.
You can choose from many types of systems and vendors. Audioconferencing can be set up via phone line, Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP)—an internet-based calling software—or even through videoconferencing software while keeping your video off. Many providers offer similar services, but sometimes with distinct features. It’s important to determine which service or software will work well for your office and your clientele.
1. Consider Your Clients
When evaluating the pros and cons of each system and vendor, your starting point should be your clients. Look at the specific features you think will work best for them. For example, their locations may influence this analysis. If your clients are scattered across the globe, consider selecting a system and vendor that offers international dial-in numbers with low fees. If your clients are rural with unreliable cell service, VOIP may be a better choice over a cell service-based conference system.
Myriad client-specific needs and preferences may affect your decision. Other functionalities to weigh, for instance, include a waiting room, an access code, a mobile app, usability, optional video calling, and many more! It could take time and experimentation to find the best system. Begin by listing which features make the most sense for your clients (and in turn, you).
2. Compare and Contrast
Once you know what you need, the next step is to decide on the vendor. One place to start is your existing telephone service. Your current phone plan may possibly include add-on services like a conference bridge, which is essentially an audioconference option. The comparison chart below shows specific capabilities offered by various VOIP providers. Additional details to compare may also include the cost, ease of use, and integration with other software such as calendaring.
3. Conversing within a Conference
No matter your choice of software, conference calls require their own etiquette. The key is to communicate clearly, whether you are meeting informally with your staff for 15 minutes or for a four-hour remote trial. When setting up the meeting, explicitly state who is calling whom, when, and the anticipated duration of the call. At the beginning of the conference, explain who you are and your relationship to other participants (e.g., attorney for defendant). Explain any silences (like if you are writing or researching) to avoid confusion.
Audioconferencing may be an effective communication tool for your firm. Be sure to consider the specific needs of your clients when researching your different options, but ultimately, it comes down to you making the call.