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VoIP services have now replaced the desk covered with a bank of phones, now employees can use their smartphones or mobile devices on the go, wherever they are at work, using nothing more than an app to join with the corporation's business phone network.
Not only does this allow employees to improve productivity, but with less of an outlay on hardware costs, it means that cloud-based telecoms systems can be very cost-efficient as well.
Set up is usually easy and very simple, as it requires little more than signing up to a digital service and then accessing it once paid for.
While there may be some small configuration settings that need to be done, this can take only a few minutes. Once completed you now have a full service phone system that can scale up to as many employees as you need to cover.
Different services tiers are commonly offered, with cheaper plans offering essential features, with more expensive plans offering additional features if required.
Costs are usually based on a user basis rather than business turn-over, and though many phone service companies offer clear and flat-rate pricing, some providers will seek to provide a personalized quote instead which can often cost more while allowing for extra options not normally available.
As we move into 2020, here then are the best in phone services for business, with our main choices featured, with additional options to consider following.
- We've also highlighted the best business smartphones
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Best business phone services - at a glance
- RingCentral Office
- MiCloud Connect
- Ooma Office
- 8x8 X Series
The best cloud-powered business phone service
RingCentral Office promotes itself as an all-in-one solution for all business sizes, with a unified communications strategy that means plenty of integration options, from Google to Microsoft, Oracle to Amazon, and Zendesk to Salesforce.
Pricing begins at just $19.99 for up to 10 users, with call management and phone system administration, as well as phone rental options for conference phones and even desks.
However, it's the pricing tiers above this where RingCentral Office really comes into its own with a comprehensive set of features that should be integral to any modern phone service.
On top of this, RingCentral can also deliver a Communications Platform as a Service (CPaaS), which means access to a developer network which allows you to use APIs to truly customize and integrate your phone system with other software you use.
Overall, though, which the cheaper plan probably delivers enough to satisfy the smallest businesses, it will be mid-sized and larger that will probably get the most from the incredible wealth of features that RingCentral Office can provide.
Put your business phone system in the cloud
MiCloud Connect is a cloud-based VoIP platform from telecoms industry leader Mitel, which aims to provide a comprehensive voice, collaboration, and contact center solution for business.
The platform itself operates using Google Cloud, which means that it satisfies HIPAA and SOC 2 compliance, Key benefits include the Mitel hosted PBX phone systems which can run on mobile devices on the go, plug and play service functionality, as well as a simple interface that allows for one-click management of systems.
MiCloudConnect also includes audio and video conferencing, web sharing, VPN, group chat, contact center, and includes a number of integration options.
Pricing starts from $20.99 per user per month and includes PBX, conferencing, and collaboration tools. The Premier plan for $26.59 per user per month adds call recording and integration features on top.
The business phone plan with the powerful base station
Ooma Office is the business version of the popular (almost) free residential service. Here, service plans require a one-time purchase of an Ooma Office base station for $129.97, and then unlimited calling to the US and Canada starts at $19.99 per user per month, which includes bonus features such as virtual fax, a local or toll-free phone number, and a conference extension.
Rounding out the service are over 35 features including 24/7 customer support, music on hold, a virtual receptionist, a mobile app, and a choice of modes for answering calls after hours.
Ooma Office is mildly hampered with no lower tier plan for cash-strapped businesses, and there is no lower cost for economies of scale as additional users are added to the plan, as each is charged at full price.
The VoIP that offers a virtual office
The 8x8 X Series is a cloud-based communications platform that offers different service tiers for providing calls, conferencing, collaboration, and a call center.
The cheapest tier, X Series X2, costs $25 per user per month and offers unlimited calling to fourteen countries, mobile apps, team messaging, HD video conferencing with screen sharing, call recording, transcripted voicemails, analytics, Single Sign On (SSO), as well as integration with Salesforce, Zendesk, and NetSuite.
For $45 per user per month the X Series X4 plan adds unlimited calling to 47 countries, supervisor analytics, call quality reporting, and an operator switchboard.
The X Series X6 plan adds a voice contact center with Interactive Voice Response (IVR), post call surveys, graphical call display, and granular search analytics, though at $110 per user per month this is almost certainly aimed at larger businesses.
An enterprise solution X Series X8, provides omnichannel communications, quality management and speech analytics, predictive dialers, and co-browsing, all for $172 per user per month.
The affordable business phone service
Phone.com endeavors to be an affordable business VoIP service, and with a pay per minute base plan that starts at $9.99 per month (when paid annually), it does best the competition at the low end in terms of cost. The trade-off is that the plan only offers a limited 300 voice minutes monthly with 5,000 SMS, which is only adequate for the most limited business use.
On the bright side, even on this bare plan there are premium features included, such as voicemail to email, call blocking and call queuing. It is also indicated that the service is HIPAA compliant to meet the standards of privacy for healthcare-related businesses.
Perhaps the more realistic options for most businesses are the Plus Plan for $14.99 monthly (when paid annually) which gives you a still limited 500 minutes, and 10,000 text messages. Even the top Pro Plan (which is $29.99 monthly on an annual contract) also offers a limited 1,000 minutes per month, and 20,000 SMS messages.
However, what Phone.com does really well is make full-featured cloud-based business phone services really accessible to the smallest of businesses, so whether you're a one-person LLC or sole trading you can still access features normally available only to enterprises.
Other business phone services to consider
Whether you're looking for a more traditional PBX phone system or a VoIP phone system, there are a lot of different providers out there. Which one is best for you will depend on your own needs and business size. While we've featured five providers above, there are a huge number of alternatives. Here we'll take a quicker look at another five.
Avaya is another of the big names in unified communications, and along with Mitel has established itself as a leading specialist player for business telecommunications. Even so, it caters for the full range of business sizes, from small to enterprise, so don't be put off thinking big names means big costs. Cloud-based VoIP is already an established offering from Avaya, with many different options available to suit your business.
FluentStream is another cloud-based VoIP provider that offers a multi-faceted UCaaS platform and a good number of integrations. There's a decent list of features even for the basic plan ($20 per month), with increasing levels of service options up to contact center level. As expected, mobile use is treated as standard rather than an option, with apps available for Android and iOS.
DialPad is a business VoIP platform that powers voice, video, messages, and meetings, and is especially geared towards mobile use. That offers a huge potential benefit by reducing initial outlay costs for hardware if employees can simply use their existing phones or tablet devices. Different sizes of business are catered for, integrations are standard, and pricing varies between $20-$35 per user according to the number of advanced features required.
Skype is possibly an option easily overlooked, but had already established itself as a leading provider of VoIP even before it was purchased by Microsoft. Now it offers all the cloud and Office integrations you'd expect from the powerhouse parent company. So long as you're happy to keep your calls online and use mobile phones or tablets for calls and conferencing, this could be the cheapest option of all the ones listed here.