Note: This review focuses on the small business edition of Ooma Office.
No matter how attached we get to our smartphones, even in a world of BYOD (Bring Your Own Device), there’s a place for Voice over Internet Protocol or VoIP providers. And while many of these services target enterprise customers with hundreds of employees, Ooma Office is a different story.
As a company that got started selling VoIP products, beginning with its VoIP in a box over a decade ago, Ooma wants to bring an enterprise-quality phone service to smaller businesses. In the company’s own words, it’s “[helping] small businesses present themselves professionally.”
Unlike competing VoIP services we’ve reviewed in the past, like the widely adopted RingCentral Office and other popular cloud phone systems, Ooma Office is available with just one pricing option, with no add-on features in sight. “All features come standard,” the company says, for just $19.95 a month.
With that in mind, you may be wondering if you can expect the same amount of functionality from Ooma that you would get from one of the pricier RingCentral packages. While RingCentral does cost as much as $34.99 for its Premium tier, the Essentials plan is priced at $19.99 each month, around the same as Ooma’s only service plan.
So let’s take a look at Ooma’s key features and then compare them with those of the competition.
Key features and pricing
As we’ve already mentioned, each line you get with Ooma is going to set you back $19.95, plus taxes, every month.
For this admittedly modest price, the company claims you’ll be able to take advantage of over 35 features, which we’ll discuss further in a moment. On top of that, this subscription nets you free number transferring, a main business number, a direct dial number, a virtual fax number, a conference line number and unlimited calling in the US and Canada. Sounds like a great deal on paper, but what 35 features are we talking about?
Well, the important ones are all here. For starters, after a relatively painless setup, you get access to a user portal where you can check your voicemails and call logs, and you can send virtual faxes.
Moreover, Ooma Office has call parking for those many times you need to transfer a caller who rang the wrong department. In a similar vein, you don’t have to worry about losing potential clients during a power or network outage either. Ooma lets you set it up so that calls are automatically rerouted to any number of your choosing.
That’s nice and all, but what about a multi-level auto attendant, CRM integrations and a dedicated mobile app? Those are all facets of RingCentral that make it appealing. The good news is that two out of those three features are also present in Ooma Office, and as Meat Loaf would say: “Two out of three ain’t bad.”
In addition to being multi-level – meaning you can program it to ask questions in order to direct callers to the right department – Ooma Office’s virtual receptionist allows you to set business hours so that when someone calls during your company’s off-hours, they can find out a better time to call back. What’s more, you can set up the virtual receptionist to dial by name, a nifty inclusion for when callers know exactly who they want to talk to. The virtual receptionist can route callers and relay custom messages too.
Of course, no modern VoIP service would be complete without a mobile app. While it’s pretty standard when all things are considered, the Ooma Office Mobile app for iOS and Android is equipped with all the basic elements of a business phone system companion application.
You can set up call forwarding so that your desk phone calls are sent to your mobile device when you’re not in the office. Alternatively, you can have both your desk phone and your cell phone ring at the same time when someone calls your work phone number.
Suffice to say, Ooma Office has quite a lot of features, and we’ve merely scratched the surface of them. Some other notable features include hold and transfer music, ring groups and a single conference bridge allotted to each user.
All of these features are fairly easy to use, and the initial setup of Ooma Office is straightforward. Simply plug a compatible phone into one of your network jacks and you’ll be ready to get started with the cloud-connected VoIP service. Another choice you have is to buy a $199.99 Ooma Office base station and connect to the service wirelessly.
Competition and verdict
The biggest selling point of Ooma Office is its value proposition, as it offers the widest range of features for the lowest price. This means you can get more of a budget VoIP phone system than from elsewhere, but this comes with negatives and positives.
The positive is that this makes Ooma Office a serious contender as a small business phone system, and the lack of any contract will likely win it favor. On the negative, though, is that it doesn't have the CRM integration other cloud phone providers can offer, and additionally the mobile apps suffer poor reviews.
Overall, if you run a small business and already have VoIP phones in premises, Ooma Office could provide you with a simple no-fuss and very affordable solution to give you a big business look. However, expect the phone system to work best in the office rather than on the go, and accept that you won't be able to manage all your communications and customer relationships without upgrading to the custom-quoted enterprise edition.
Additionally, there may be slightly more expensive but better featured rivals out there, as Ooma Office gives every impression of trying to compete with legacy telecoms providers rather than the new wave of dedicate cloud providers.