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Best business phone systems of 2020: office telecoms solutions for SMEs

Best business phone systems
(Image credit: Pixabay)

Phone systems have been revolutionized by the move to cloud services, and while legacy PBX phone systems still exist and are catered for, most modern business phone services now provide VoIP using HD voice calling.

As well as VoIP services, the rise in smartphone use means these can also now be added to a businesses phone ecosystem, employing BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) features though take note to apply Mobile Device Management (MDM) solutions for added security. However, the benefits outweigh the risks, with employees now able to use the same business phone system while on the go or from home when working remotely.

Altogether, phone systems for business have evolved for the better, with a wealth of automated services able to be added or integrated using included software platforms, such as Interactive Voice Response (IVR) as well as features such as predictive dialing, call routing, and integrations with CRM software.

On top of that, cloud-based phone systems offer unprecedented levels of analytics which doesn't simply allow you to maximize communications across your phone system, but also allows actionable insights into the customer journey and customer behavior, as well as making it simpler for sales and support to engage with customers.

Sometimes sold as Unified Communications, or as Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS), modern business phone solutions allow you to manage all communications across the company and its customer base much easier.

As we move into 2020, here we feature the best in business phone systems for the busy modern office.

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Best business phone systems - at a glance

  1. Avaya OneCloud
  2. RingCentral Office
  3. Ooma Office
  4. 8x8 Office Series 
  5. Aircall

Avaya OneCloud

(Image credit: Avaya)

1. Avaya OneCloud

The cost-effective and scaleable VoIP suite

Strong suite of features
Scaleable Unified Communications
Configurable options

Avaya OneCloud is the latest unified communications offering from Avaya, succeeding the previously successful IP Office platform and expanding its current Avaya IX Workplace and Contact Center range.

The service aims to create a truly scaleable solution using whichever cloud solution you're most comfortable with. For small and medium-sized businesses that are happy to rely on third-party suppliers, Avaya OneCloud can easily run through a public cloud, meaning that you receive continuous service and don't have to concern yourself with software upgrades or IT buy-ins.

For enterprise companies that already have a private or hybrid cloud service, a standard Avaya OneCloud can be setup, or else a customization solution according to needs under the OneCloud ReadyNow service. There's the option of setting up any required server hardware on premises, or else host it in one of Avaya's datacenters.

Of course, Avaya OneCloud is more than just calls, and as a unified communications solution it means integrating all communications channels into a single system.

While the product name may have changed, Avaya have a solid track record in their expanded VoIP and UC service provisions, and the sheer scaleability of the OneCloud solution has to be attractive.

RingCentral Office

(Image credit: RingCentral Office)

2. RingCentral Office

Easy to use yet powerful UCaaS

Simple to use
Good compatibility
Many features
More expensive than some rivals

RingCentral is an all-in-one cloud platform for calls, audio conferencing, online fax, and SMS. It's a powerful but flexible system that allows you to use most any mobile device to run as a softphone, and there's good compatibility with a range of existing PBX phone hardware.

As expected, there is a comprehensive set of features included as standard, including call logging, monitoring, recording, and online faxing. It also offers HD voice and audioconferencing through mobile devices, as well as team collaboration through screen sharing and HD video for both tasks as well as video conferencing.

The central contact center features omnichannel routing, CRM integrations, agent management tools, as well as actionable analytics. There are also integrations available for a large number of apps, including SalesForce, Office 365, Zoho, Zendesk, Oracle and more.

Business plans start at $19.99 per user for the Essentials tier, with additional tiers available with a corresponding increase in both features and pricing, including the developer network which allows access to APIs to make for a truly integration phone system.

Ooma Office

(Image credit: Ooma Office)

3. Ooma Office

Full featured system
Cheap pricing
No minimum contract

Ooma Office is the business version of the popular Ooma home phone service. Run in the cloud, Ooma Office is therefore simple and easy to set up and run with.

Although you can use your own hardware, if compatible, Ooma does offer a range of suitable hardware if required. Although this means extra upfront cost if needed, the benefit is that Ooma offers a lower monthly user fee than most other comparable services.

Pricing per user is a flat-fee of just $19.95 month, and although that might make Ooma sound like a budget service, it contains all the features you'd expect from a fully functional business VoIP service.

Additionally, Ooma advertising over 35 different features built into the service, including call holding, virtual receptionist, and call recording.

One of the more standout features is that there is no monthly contract, so this could make it especially attractive to start-ups who don't want to commit to multi-year contracts, as well as established businesses who also don't want to find themselves locked into a service they no longer want or need.

8x8 X Series

(Image credit: 8x8)

4. 8x8 X Series

The phone system for small and medium business

Full-feature basic plan
Basic plan price competitive
Enterprise plans very expensive

The 8x8 X Series cloud-powered business phone system offers a feature-packed bundle that means even with the most basic plan, you still have a comprehensive set of services as you'd expect with a ful-blown business PBX system.

The starter tier, known as X Series X2, offers an excellent array of service features, including all aspects of call handling such as caller ID, call forwarding, call queues, and ring groups, as well as an advanced auto-attendant. 

There's also the ability to use Single Sign On (SSO) for audio and video meetings, and screen sharing is supported.

Other features at this level include team messageing, voicemail, and voicemail transcriptions, as well as integration with Office 365 and Google's G Suite. All of which comes in at a very reasonable $25 per user per month.

The X Series X4 plan adds an operator switchboard, analytics, and call quality reporting, as well as extending unlimited calling from 14 to 47 countries, but still seems steep coming in at $45 per user per month.

The X Series X6 and X8 plans add more advanced features for enterprises, but coming in at $110-$172 per user per month come in as far more expensive than any comparable service provider. 

Even still, it's the X Series X2 plan that really stands out as being very accessible for small and medium businesses, offering almost everything they might require, with the sole omission of Interactive Voice Response (IVR), but 

otherwise delivering on most of the features they are likely to need. This is also a very price-competitive plan compared to rivals, though the enterprise plans are another issue.

Aircall

(Image credit: Aircall)

5. Aircall

VoIP call center and CRM solution

Strong focus on CRM
Easy call center setup
Lots of integrations

Aircall is another cloud-hosted UCaaS solution, which can be set up with just a few clicks. This then provides your business with a complete communications center solution for calls, video, and messaging from the web, desktop, or mobile. 

Aircall also makes it very easy to set up a call center in minutes, and so includes a wide range of CRM, helpdesk, and productivity functions to both support this, as well as improve how your sales and support teams handle calls, not least in terms of transferring them as well as approaching customers. And, as expected, there's an analytics suite to help gauge efficiency and track KPIs in workflows and look for ways to improve them.

Because Aircall looks beyond unified communications and toward CRM solutions as well to better provide for sales and support teams, it also provides a large number of integrations, not least SalesForce, Zendesk, Hubspot, Zoho, Freshdesk, and Slack. 

Pricing starts at $30 per user per month for a limited set of features, with this rising to $50 per user per month to unlock the rest of Aircall's functions. However, note that a minimum of three users is required to operate this service.