Automated audio only toll-free conferencing is still popular in the Legal Community
The law community has traditionally favored audio conferencing over Unified Communications due to its ease of use and intuitive feature set. As businesses today look to technology to help them operate more efficiently, so does the legal industry in their quest for new tools that will help them manage client relationships and colleague collaborations. Since the legal profession is a problem-solving business that involves multiple meetings with clients, vendors, judges, partners and others around the world, working with a global conferencing vendor that specializes in delivering consistent, quality service and easy-to-use features is a must. Using a service like this supported by an expert team of professionals on a robust platform ensures you have everything needed not just to satisfy the needs of those who use the service at your firm, but also to streamline administrative items such as record keeping, billing management, and coordination of resources. Having customizable back office capabilities is also extremely important due to the fast paced environment legal administrators operate in.
Whose Customer Am I Anyway?
There’s been a lot of activity lately in the “traditional conferencing” industry and it’s important to know the landscape. Intrado sold their conferencing assets to PGI, PGI then turned around and sold their conferencing assets to LoopUp, so there is consolidation happening currently. It’s leading in the direction of a push towards more UC platforms where all connections (audio, web, video) are made over the internet. There’s now only a few providers out there (ourselves included) that provide the audio-only, automated, reservation-less, conferencing service. Many large telcos offer this service, but for them it’s a by-the-way, not a main focus, so usually there is very little support and less quality connections due to lack of investment in the infrastructure.
Getting caught in traffic
Call “traffic” includes everyone who is dialing in to calls or otherwise attempting to connect to networks in some manner. As the general public is communicating via telephone more than ever, there will be an increase in the number of calls handled by carriers across the globe. Many of those connections will travel over VOIP connections through data centers that are usually powered by multiple tenants to create the user experience. Of course the internet, and therefore the connections running over it, by nature is an unstable environment. The increase in internet traffic can cause bottlenecks and network congestion which leave you unable to connect as a host or participant or with shaky connections either of which would make handling legal matters challenging. However, hard-wired phones and wires in the ground tend to be more stable through the PSTN (Public Switched Telephone Network).
Unfortunately things come up while you’re on conference calls that affect the sound quality. Background noises, static, and echo as some examples. When you’re reviewing a case with a judge or collaborating on a case with clients this can be a real hinderance. There are ways to control these issues as the host by using keypad commands. However, if something needs technical troubleshooting you want to know that a person can be immediately summoned to the call to assist. Sometimes it can be a challenge to get real time support from the turnkey collaboration solutions because they are software driven. Not only is it important to get real time assistance during a call, it’s also important that you have a point of contact in case you have questions, concerns, or need some guidance on best practices.
Operator Assisted Service
Speaking of operators, sometimes you need to have an operator facilitate dialing out to multiple parties and then connecting a judge or you need to communicate an important message to a large audience so formality is desired. This requires a service that can accommodate operator assisted calls. In an attempt to reduce the costs of human capital for many conferencing providers they have moved away from live operator answer to automated entry. This means that participant data isn’t captured and most of them won’t perform the smaller dial-out calls because the cost of staffing the operator can outweigh the cost of the call itself. Therefore, you’ll want to make sure that the provider you engage is aware of your exact requirements for this service so you can both decide if it’s the right fit.
Having a toll-free option on a pay-per-use model gives you the flexibility of being able to provision everyone in your firm with a conference line, but only pay when they use the service since depending on the caseload usage can be sporadic. You will also have a toll number which is used as a global option for callers from around the world to dial in to the United States on the NANS (North American Numbering System) using “1” which is the U.S. country code. International dial-in capabilities are important as well given the global nature of many law firms. Sometimes connections from overseas can be challenging when using IP instead of fiber because they have to travel over more circuits to the end point of an already strained network. With all the technology built into portals for audio call monitoring the call dynamics can be controlled to mimic the desired audience interaction without the distraction of video or presentation tools.
The point here is that toll-free dial-in audio conferencing and Operator Assisted capabilities will always have a place in the technology toolkit of today’s law firms due to their flexibility and stability vs. other platforms. It can also function simultaneously in just about any UC environment because with most of them you have the capability to bring your own audio provider by manually entering the dial-in details. Many times if your firm has bundle plans in place that include audio conferencing and for any reason you need toll-free access or dial out capabilities those rates can be exceptionally high since it isn’t included “in the box.” Whether you just need something basic or want to customize a platform with specific settings and features we’re here to help. Contact us today to explore the options!
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