With customers having so many ways to contact your small business these days, the traditional phone system seems a bit outdated. You certainly need a phone system for your business, but you also need to invest in the ability to make contacts through social media, email, and chat.
So if you can save some money on a phone system by installing the best VOIP phone service, while still receiving all of the features you need, you’ll be able to expand your investments into other customer connectivity areas.
Modern VOIP phone systems save money by using voice over IP (VOIP) technology to make and receive phone calls over an IP network. By placing calls over the Internet, rather than over the PSTN (public switched telephone network), you can save some money on your phone system. A hosted PSTN phone system on-premises could cost thousands of dollars, while a cloud based VOIP system has a monthly subscription fee.
Finding the best business VOIP phone services for your needs requires thinking about the requirements your customers and employees have for communicating within your business.
The Best Business VOIP Phone Service Options to Consider:
- Ooma Office
When it Makes Sense to Invest Into Business VOIP Phone Services
If you are happy with the performance of your current phone system, you may not really need one of the best business VOIP phone services … or you may not be fully aware of what they can do and how they can help your business become more productive, all while almost certainly saving you money over your current system.
Here are some ideas to help you figure out whether a VOIP system will help your employees communicate more effectively with each other and with customers.
- Failing equipment: When the equipment on the legacy phone system you’re currently using is starting to show its age, and it’s costing you a significant amount of time and money to maintain and repair it, you may be ready to move to a VOIP system.
- Better productivity: By being able to take and receive calls anywhere, your employees will miss fewer calls from customers, making them more efficient as they work.
- Seeking cost reduction: A cloud based business VOIP system using the Internet costs quite a bit less than a legacy phone system that’s connected to the telephone network.
- To use on-the-go calling: With the right VOIP system, you can forward all of the calls coming into your main phone number to mobile phones of employees working in the field. This can be more efficient than paying someone to sit and answer the phone all day.
- Excellent Internet bandwidth: To run your phone system over the Internet with a VOIP system, you need to have an extremely fast and reliable type of Internet service. If your Internet provider recently upgraded your Internet speed and capacity, you may now have the level of service performance required to use a VOIP system.
#1 – RingCentral Review — The Best For Reliability and Features
RingCentral is one of the most popular VOIP phone services for business, delivering the best mix of features, pricing options, and service reliability.
RingCentral guarantees a 99.999% up-time, as it uses more than a dozen data centers spread around the globe to give you nearly flawless service. It also has multiple layers of security implemented, protecting your data at the highest level.
You can access a wide range of features when using RingCentral, including a virtual receptionist, call logging, call forwarding, hold music, and an extremely powerful app that gives employees the ability to access all of the service’s features, even when they’re not in the office.
For those who are a bit leery of trying a VOIP service, RingCentral will walk you through the installation and implementation process step by step.
- Outstanding reliability
- Good customer service during installation
- Multiple features available
- Strong mobile app
- Lowest priced tier limited to 20 users
- Essentials: $20 to $30 (per user per month)
- Standard: $25 to $35
- Premium: $35 to $45
- Ultimate: $50 to $60
#2 – Verizon Review — The Best For Medium and Large Businesses
You may know Verizon more as one of the big cellular network providers, but it’s also one of the best VOIP business phone services.
Its features give medium and larger businesses a better level of performance than smaller businesses, especially considering the prices you’ll be paying. Smaller businesses may not be able to take full advantage of the advanced features found with Verizon, which reduces its value compared to what a bigger customer receives.
Verizon is one of the most reliable VOIP providers, ensuring your phone system will be up and running at all times. The service has an easy-to-use mobile synchronization service, allowing you to run the system from your mobile phone when you’re out of the office.
- Extremely reliable service record
- Tons of features in the basic level
- Good mobile features
- Gives medium and large businesses the biggest benefits
- Pricing options are confusing
- All services are not available in all locations
- Starts at $35 per month per user
#3 – Nextiva Review — The Best For Businesses With Multiple Locations
For those small businesses that have offices in multiple physical locations, managing a phone service across all of them can be a challenge. Nextiva has a strong management platform that simplifies the process of operating the system, keeping it running at the highest level for all users, regardless of which office they’re using.
One of the best aspects of Nextiva is its ability to grow along with your business. Many small businesses can take advantage of this service’s feature set, but when you need to add more users, the extra features you’ll need are readily available.
You do have to keep an eye on the pricing tiers with Nextiva, as some of the add-ons can be difficult to understand, driving up the bill quickly. You also may need to sign a long term contract to receive the best price.
- Features can grow as your business grows
- Reasonable starting prices
- Easy to manage multiple locations through the dashboard
- Extremely reliable
- Pricing and contract terms can be confusing
- International calls can be pricier than with other VOIPs
- Essential: $20 to $22 (per month per user)
- Professional: $21 to $25
- Enterprise: $28 to $32
#4 – Ooma Office Review — The Best For Small Businesses
For an extremely small business, especially one that’s just starting out, Ooma is a smart choice, as it provides all of the hardware and software you need to be up and running quickly. You don’t need a lot of know-how to start using Ooma, which is nice for a small business, where the owner likely has to wear numerous hats, including network management.
Ooma also provides a high level of customer service, which means you can troubleshoot problems relatively easily.
This service doesn’t have as many features as some of the others on our list of the best business VOIP phone services, but it hits all of the basics that small businesses will need.
- Reasonable price points
- Very easy to use, as it gives you everything you need to start
- Good customer service
- Includes a virtual receptionist inside the lowest pricing tier
- Doesn’t have tons of extra features
- As your business expands, you may outgrow this service
- Base: $20 (per user per month)
- Pro: $25
#5 – Jive Review — The Best For Encryption
When you need end-to-end encryption for your phone services, Jive delivers this level of security at a reasonable price point, no matter what device you’re using with the Jive service. The Jive dashboard also tracks all devices connected to the service, allowing you to see if unauthorized users have connected.
You’ll appreciate Jive’s tiered pricing structure, where the cost per user per month actually goes down the more users you have on the network, which is not common for VOIP phone services for businesses.
If you’re interested in adding video conferencing services, you will have to pay an extra fee.
- Excellent encryption features
- Prices goes down the more users you add
- Maintains its high level of security for any devices connected to the network
- Video conferencing is an add-on
- GoTo owns Jive, so it could merge with GoTo’s services at some point, forcing you to switch
- Tier 1: $30 (per user per month)
- Tier 2: $26
- Tier 3: $24
- Tier 4: $22
- Tier 5: $20
#6 – Grasshopper Review — The Best Mobile App
For the small business that has employees who spend far more time out of the office than in it, Grasshopper’s excellent mobile app allows you to operate the system from wherever you are. You can use the app to make calls or send text messages that will appear to come from your main business phone number.
Even small businesses will appear to be much larger when they’re using Grasshopper, thanks to its automated attendant. It gives each user on the network his or her own extension. When the caller selects a particular extension, the system can automatically forward the call to the desired number, even if it’s a smartphone.
- Perfect for small businesses with remote employees
- Excellent mobile app design and features
- Recently underwent a price drop
- Not made for larger businesses
- Add-on costs will add up quickly if you need special features
- Solopreneur: $26 to $29 (1 user per month)
- Partnership: $46 to $51 (up to 3 users per month)
- Small Team: $70 to $78 (up to 6 users per month)
#7 – 8×8 Review — The Best For Collaboration Between Employees
The 8×8 VOIP service is extremely easy to set up and use, which is a big benefit for a small business that probably doesn’t have a dedicated IT person to handle the job.
For the business that needs better tools for allowing collaboration between employees, 8×8 has some strong features. Employees individually can host conference calls, either audio and video calls. They can set up online chats with each other, making it easier to stay in communication, even when they’re out in the field. 8×8 also provides integration with other collaborative tools you may already be using, like Salesforce, Microsoft Office 365, or Google G Suite.
- Easy to set up and use
- Simplifies the process of keeping far-flung employees connected
- Integrates with multiple popular software suites
- Seems to change pricing tiers frequently, which can be confusing
- Design of dashboard and mobile app could be better
- X2: $25 (per month per user)
- X5: $35
- X8: $55
Methodology For Choosing The Best Business VOIP Phone Services
In putting together our list of the best business VOIP phone services, we paid attention to a number of important factors. Determine which of these factors are most important to you, and look for a system that has its strengths in those areas.
Cloud Vs. On-Premises
With a cloud hosted business VOIP phone service, the service provider will store all of the data for the system for you. Your phone calls will still come to the phone hardware at your business, but you do not need other types of hardware to store the VOIP system.
All of the items you need to operate the PBX system appear in the cloud.
A significant benefit of a cloud system is that updates to the system occur automatically at the vendor’s location. You don’t have to replace a lot of on-premises hardware on your site to accept updates to the VOIP system.
As another option, some companies may provide the equipment needed to operate the PBX system at your physical location. This will be more expensive than the cloud hosted system, but you may feel more comfortable having the system at your business, rather than in the vendor’s cloud.
Mobile Phones Vs. Desk Phones
With a VOIP system, you don’t necessarily have to have traditional phone hardware on your desk. You can route all of the calls through the cloud based VOIP system to the employees’ mobile phones if desired.
In fact, you should be able to forward phone calls that come into your business’ primary phone number to any connected mobile phone. This is a perfect solution for the small business that doesn’t have many employees, but where most of them often must work off-site.
Types of Phone Numbers
The majority of businesses will want both a local phone number and a toll free phone number to allow customers to contact the business in multiple ways.
The majority of VOIP phone systems will give you both types of phone numbers, but some units may charge you extra for a toll free number. Some systems make calling international numbers an easier process than others as well.
Number of Users
Certain VOIP phone systems may offer pricing tiers that have a limit on the number of users you can have on the system.
If you have a large and expanding organization, look for a system that gives you an unlimited number of users, understanding that many systems charge your business per month per user.
With the majority of these phone systems, you can host either voice or video conference calls. Some systems may charge you extra for the ability to make video conference calls.
Some systems may limit you to five participants, while others have capacity for hundreds of participants at the same time, so look for a system that can handle your needs. You may have to move up to a higher pricing tier to reach the number of conference call participants you want to use.
Any business VOIP system should give you basic calling features as part of the service, such as a voicemail system for each user and caller ID for incoming calls.
However, you may also want features like on-hold music, call queues, voicemail to email translation, and automatic answering and forwarding of calls. If all of the employees are working out of the office, you can use the automatic attendant to determine which employee should receive the call. The attendant then can route the call to that employee’s mobile phone.
Other Types of Messaging
Within the company, you may be able to send and receive text messages or have a real time chat with other members of the company who are on the VOIP system.
You also should be able to send and receive faxes with this type of system, as the phone system will communicate with fax machines. Faxes that you receive should come into the system as a digital file.
With cloud based VOIP phone services for business, you may worry about the security or the level of encryption the vendor provides. Some businesses need a vendor who can guarantee HIPAA or SOC 2 compliance, ensuring data management occurs in a safe and protected manner.
Ask the vendor to spell out how it will keep your data protected.
The majority of the best VOIP business phone services will charge you per month per user, especially cloud based systems. You also then may have some add-on costs for special features. Pricing structures can vary quite a bit from vendor to vendor, so closely research how you’ll pay for the service.
Some VOIPs will require you to agree to a long term contract.
Summary: Putting the Best Business VOIP Phone Service to Work
The continued familiarity of small businesses with cloud based services and software, along with the proliferation of mobile phones, has made now the perfect time for implementing the best business VOIP phone services in your business.
With call forwarding to mobile phones, even remote employees are able to remain connected with customers, reducing the amount of time they waste playing phone tag.
The relatively low cost of implementing the VOIP systems means they are accessible to new small businesses. Even a small business can sound like a huge organization when a customer makes an inbound call, thanks to the multitude of services the VOIP provides.