Choosing the Best VoIP Phone System
In this post, we will compare the most popular VoIP services to find out which one is the best. We will only review VoIP service providers that are most suited to small to medium-sized businesses. Our evaluation of the services is based on business use.
You may already know that a VoIP service can potentially save up to 40 % on local calls, and up to 90 % on international calls. But, cost saving isn’t the only objective when adopting a VoIP phone system. We have elaborated on the benefits of VoIP phone systems in our previous blog.
A novel use of VoIP is seen in omnichannel customer service. A Zendesk survey reveals that despite the growing use of email and social media channels, customers still rely heavily on the telephone. In fact, 71% of customers will call you when their email goes unanswered. Now that’s another solid reason to invest in VoIP.
The Best VoIP Phone System For Small Business:
1. RingCentral (Our Choice)
RingCentral is a well-known brand among businesses familiar with VoIP (voice over internet protocol). RingCentral Office is their feature-packed flagship product. It comes loaded with all the features that customers can expect from a business phone system. RingCentral is truly a Unified-communications-as-a-service (UCaaS) provider as it offers options ranging from chat and video conferencing to mobile VoIP, and many others. And all these features can be managed from a unified central console.
This feature-rich experience comes at a competitive price. Besides, the company also offers advanced capabilities such as custom app development and integrations, and artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities.
What we like
Wide range of features
Generous toll-free minutes
Unlimited video conferencing
New AI integrations
Easy to configure
Plenty of pricing options
What could be better
The lower-end plan lacks some essential features while the higher-end plans are pricey.
Hardware will cost you, but there is a BYOD (bring your own device) option available.
RingCentral isn’t the most inexpensive VoIP solution. But it includes many features that other companies usually charge extra for, so the cost, more or less, evens out. RingCentral VoIP has a wide range of features and a deep set of business communication capabilities. This easily makes RingCentral our top choice.
8x8 offers two sets of plans. The first one called “8x8 Express” focuses on small business owners. The other one is the “X Series”, which offers more features and is tailored for mid to large businesses. 8x8 VoIP is relatively easy to set up and use. Its plans offer all the usual features such as Auto Attendant, Call Handling, Presence Detection, Voicemail, Team Messaging & Business SMS, etc.
It also has multi-channel 24/7 customer support and an online knowledge base that is on point. In addition, their “Unlimited Extension Plan” gives you unlimited calling to the US, Canada, Puerto Rico, Guam, US Virgin Islands, France, Ireland, Italy, Australia, China, and the United Kingdom, Mexico, Germany, Spain.
What we like
Configuration and setup are simple
Plenty of standard features
International calling is inexpensive
Solid mobile and desktop capability
Their knowledge base is on point
What could be better
The UI design could be more intuitive
Their application integration capabilities could be better
8×8 VoIP service is a solid choice in terms of service, features, and pricing. Its service is most helpful for businesses that are regular international callers. In fact in international call rates, they are practically unbeatable.
Vonage is another popular VoIP service provider. In their earlier days, Vonage brought VoIP to the mainstream for residential users. And now, Vonage is building a world-class, cloud communications platform for businesses. They offer comprehensive business communication solutions including unified communications and contact centers. Vonage Business Cloud, which is their flagship product, has a strong offering for small and medium businesses. Vonage offers a unified communications platform that enables your business to connect with its users via voice, chat, text messaging and video conferencing. They offer a wide range of functionalities including useful administrative features and API integrations.
They offer 3 tiered plans and the pricing depends on the number of lines. In addition, many add-on features are also available. This makes their pricing flexible and competitive. But if you start customizing your plans by adding features, you will likely work up significant monthly bills.
What we like
A wide range of add-on features
A large number of CRM integrations
Feature-packed Advanced plans
Impressive Admin console
What could be better
The basic plan lacks many useful features while the advanced plan is pricey.
The add-on features are great but come at a price.
Vonage is a solid choice for small and medium businesses. It offers a wide range of features and robust administrative controls. The basic plan lacks some useful business features. While add-on features are available, they can significantly bump up your monthly bill.
Nextiva is another popular VoIP service available in the US and Canada. Nextiva offers all the standard VoIP features such as cloud PBX, number porting, mobile call management, free toll-free number, unlimited US calling, voicemail to email, etc. In addition, they also offer virtual faxing, marketing tools, CRM, as well as a Unified Communications options. Nextiva is simple to get started and you can scale up as your business grows. They boast 99.999% uptime, which highlights their commitment to quality and reliability.
One thing that bothered us the most was their pricing. It can quickly get confusing as the cost per user per month varies not only across packages but also with the number of users and length of the contract.
What we like
Free set up and installation
Excellent customer support and online knowledgebase
Their Unified Communications platform, NextOS
What could be better
The Basic plan lacks some of the important business features
Nextiva has a solid offering for small and medium businesses looking for a balance between cost and features. But their lack of transparency appeared a little sneaky. While the higher-end plans are feature-packed, the basic plan, yet again, has limited features. Although there is the option of add-on features, they come at a price.
Choosing the right VoIP for Your Business
In this post, we evaluated a few of the most popular VoIP service providers. At a glance, their offerings and pricing appear similar. In addition to the plans and pricing, there are other important features that are more relevant for businesses. So, before deciding on a VoIP service, take into consideration the following:
Arguably, the most important feature of a VoIP platform is its ability to manage call traffic. This is can be done based on your available resources as well as business requirements. What happens when there is a large volume of incoming calls? Your system should be able to queue the calls and then distribute them to various extensions based on availability. Calls may also be seamlessly routed to mobile phones, remote workers, or a voicemail of your choice. Advanced features such as Artificial Learning (AI) can also be used for routing calls to the most efficient or relevant line.
It isn't enough for the features to be there if you can't locate or use them. So, look for a VoIP service that offers feature-rich call management with an intuitive platform.
The mobility of employees is an important element of all modern-day businesses. If your employees will be on the go quite often, you should choose a VoIP service provider that offers a mobile app. Unfortunately, many VoIP plans either do not offer mobile apps or are limited in features when compared to their desktop versions. So, if the mobility of your employees is important, then choose a VoIP service that offers a feature-rich mobile app.
In essence, VoIP is software so the VoIP service providers are able to provide a number of integrations that include apps such as Dropbox, Google Drive, etc. Many of your workflows likely depend on such integrations and therefore these integrations are critical for efficiency.
If you wish to create your own custom integration, you will need API (application programming interface) support. Not all VoIP vendors support APIs, so you need to find one that does.
When using any internet-connected cloud-based service such as VoIP, security must your key concern. Always look for vendors that provide end-to-end encryption. Advanced security options such as multi-factor authentication are also necessary. Also, get a clear understanding of your service contracts. The contracts must clearly define the ownership of the data stored in the cloud.
Like any other product or service, some amount of customer support is necessary for your VoIP to function well. Look for a vendor who can provide customer support that guarantees your requests will be handled in a timely manner. When doing your research online, be careful not to get carried away by the heat many VoIP service providers get online. Most of the time the reviewers are not aware of the features and capabilities of their VoIP service.
For small and medium businesses, VoIP is an attractive communication platform because of the cost and flexibility advantages. Choosing the right VoIP service and selecting which features to implement requires thorough research and careful decision making. This post gives you an evaluation of the most popular VoIP services as well as the key features you need to consider. Now you have the tools necessary to select the best VoIP service for your business.
If you are considering migrating to a VoIP phone system or need support for your existing one, feel free to reach out to us.
If you liked the blog, please share it with your friends