Friday tip: make conference calls invite great again

Robot phone IIAR websiteA little tip after being on one too many calls which was needlessly hard to join today.

You’ve all been there: you’re on a mobile phone (because you’re busy wrapping the previous call on your laptop) but the number is buried in the invite body. Then it is a US number, like 0808 800 0082, that doesn’t work for anyone not based in the country. And then you need to memorise a 9 digit passcode. Nine digits, what were they thinking about?

The good news is that there’s a fix.

In the location field, just format the dial-in exactly like that: +108088000082,,112233#.

This will allow the lucky recipients of your concall invite to tap on it on their smartphone, it will autodialled they will and join automatically the conference. Incredible, isn’t it? Magic.

In the body, add all the local dial-ins (you know, for all the same folks who don’t happen to be in the USA) using the same number. Usually a hyperlink to a PDF with numbers doesn’t work (Gartner, are you listening?) because if you’re on 3G on your smartphone, the internet connection won’t work for data… And cut&paste from PDF with fat fingers sucks.

A little more explanation about the format, which is derived from E.164:

  • the + sign is the international dial-in prefix (you see, because it’s 00 in the civilised world and 011 in the USA, so the plus sign fixes this)
  • the leading 1 is for USA, use 33 for France, 44 for UK, 91 for India, etc.
  • If you leave the +1 or +nn or +nnn out and just start with the local area code (for instance in the US 212 for Manhattan or 650 for the Bay Area, international callers won’t know it’s a US number for example and it won’t work
  • then follows the number, without the leading zero (we’ll leave Italians alone for now because they’re an exception)
  • the commas are pauses, your smartphone will wait a few seconds before dialling (actually sending DTMF) ; you can also use semi-colons “;” for a pause whilst the prompt plays to ask for your attendee code
  • then follows the attendee code without spaces or dashes (should work with it)
  • and it usually finishes with a hash # but that depends on the the teleconference provider ; it is there to “enter” the conference call

Voilà. Easy does it?

PS: and it helps to add local times, I always indicate time zones -you can customise this timeanddate URL to avoid goofing up (I do it all the time) between BST, CEST, etc.

PPS: it’s funny to see that Forrester gets this when sending inquiry invites, whilst Gartner still hasn’t figured out how to improve the CX on that front.

PPPS: you can also use this smartphone autodial format to save your own conference code, for instance under Ludovic’s MeetingPlace and have your own conference dial-in, maybe save for several countries you’re frequently in, allowing you to start your own conference call with just one tap. As I wrote above, magic!

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