This is the second post in our 2-post series chronicling our journey to find the perfect videoconferencing software. Check out the first post if you’d like to read about our experience with GoToMeeting and the incident that propelled us forward in our quest.
When we last spoke, we had just made the decision to switch platforms. But where to start?!
The internets, of course.
Liz found several websites with software ratings and reviews. Product websites that bothered to have testimonials appealed to her because it showed that real people were happy. But to be honest, there were so few ratings and testimonials that we felt they were pretty unreliable. It would be so great to wave a magic wand and be able to see the data on how many technical hiccups users of each software have experienced! No luck, though.
When it came to price, we found that, since video-conferencing is used for so many different kinds of meetings in various industries, the costs vary greatly. This type of software can range from free to $300/month and right on up to thousands of dollars, depending on your needs. Most of the software we researched had several pricing plans to choose from, and to add confusion, some companies do not advertise their prices on their website (we assume this is because they want to talk to you and collect your information, which we found to be an annoyingly slow way to find answers). In the end Speek, Zoom, and Lync were on the low end of pricing, and Auralink, SecureVideo and VSee were much more costly (to name just a few). Many of the lower end options (like Speek) didn’t have all of the useful features we were looking for, so we eliminated them right away. But what about some of the other options on the lower end of the cost spectrum?
For my work with school districts, I use Lync. I love it. It has a great interface, easy to use features, and has good audio and video. My experience has been with the closed-loop subscriber version, which unfortunately won’t work for our private practice client needs because each client is not a subscriber within the closed loop. We thought that perhaps one of their new versions with great flexibility and affordable monthly rates might work for us, though. We thought we hit the jackpot when we found out that it would only cost us $2/month and had all the features we needed. BUT!
Customer service. We spent many fruitless hours on the phone with Microsoft trying to figure out how to even see the platform. Downloading a free trial was insanely difficult. There were emails back and forth and every time we thought we had something figured out, nada. In the end, we abandoned Lync purely because the customer service was SO bad. We decided that If they can’t provide good enough customer service to sell us their product, they probably wouldn’t be very helpful down the line.
Our experience with Lync solidified our feeling that we really wanted a great tech support system from whatever software we chose. This lead us to . . .
Zoom hit it out of the customer service park. Calling their help line connected us with a real person right away. We had a few questions about pricing and features and they were answered thoroughly. Then we were connected to a regional representative who let us know about discounts in our area. Ultimately, we decided to purchase Zoom. They were very helpful in sending us the information we needed to familiarize new clients and clinicians with the software as well. Super support!
But what about price? Well, they have a few pricing options. We decided to go with the Pro Plan, which is $9.99 per month per “host” for up to 9 hosts (clinicians) and 25 participants (clients). We felt like this was a good deal for our little practice, but the total cost will of course vary depending on how many clinicians you have.
So, for now, we’re at a resting point in our quest to find the perfect teleconferencing platform for telepractice. That resting point is called Zoom. What does that mean? It means that we’ve had one successful session, and we’re happy with features and support so far. Baby steps. We’ll have a better idea of how it works once we’ve put the program through its paces. This might be the end of the road, or it might just be a Band Aid. Only time will tell. Stayed tuned for the update!
And, as always, leave your comments and share your experiences below. We’re all in this together, right?
This post is part of our ongoing series, Between Two Screens, in which we share our take on the ever-changing and always-exciting world of speech-language pathology and telepractice. Check out our other posts and let us know if there’s a topic you’d like us to cover!