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Best business phone systems of 2020: office telecoms solutions

Best business phone systems
(Image credit: Pixabay)
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REASONS TO BUY
REASONS TO AVOID
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REASONS TO BUY
REASONS TO AVOID

The best business phone systems offer an easy to use and manage office telecoms solution.

Business phone systems have been revolutionized by the move to cloud services, and while legacy PBX phone systems still exist and are catered for, modern phone services 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.

Here we feature the best in business phone systems for the busy modern office.

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The best business phone systems at a glance

  1. RingCentral Office
  2. Ooma Office
  3. 8x8 X Series
  4. Aircall
  5. Avaya OneCloud
  6. Vonage Cloud

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(Image credit: RingCentral)

1. RingCentral Office

Ring Central is the best business phone system out there - it's easy to use yet powerful and feature rich

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

RingCentral Office 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 for 2-19 users 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. However, for a single individual pricing for the Essentials changes to $29.95.

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(Image credit: Ooma Office)

2. Ooma Office

Affordable business phone system

Easy to set up
Great value
Powerful features
Mobile apps have some flaws

Ooma Office is an internet-based business phone service which aims to deliver a big business phone experience to small businesses.

Ooma might not be overflowing with the kind of bells and whistles you might find with some VoIP services, but it presents itself as a solution for smaller firms with tighter budgets, and is positioned very well in this respect.

However, don’t get the idea that this is a barebones VoIP offering – in fact Ooma Office gives you all the core features you would expect, plus some more advanced functions like a virtual receptionist that allows for calls to be automatically directed to the right department.

Subscribers also benefit from hold and transfer music, and Ooma provides mobile apps for iOS and Android, so you can set up capabilities such as call forwarding, enabling calls to be sent from your desk phone to your mobile when you’re out and about. That said, some of the online feedback about the mobile apps isn’t great, so bear that in mind.

Generally speaking, though, Ooma gives you a lot of functionality for a relatively modest outlay per user per month. There’s no fuss – you get all the features with that one subscription plan – and what’s more the system is easy to set up and get going with.

Naturally, you don’t get everything compared to the feature-sets of the more costly rivals out there, and the most notable missing piece of the puzzle is a lack of CRM integrations.

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(Image credit: 8x8)

3. 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 8x8 Express offers a basic set of phone features that includes all aspects of call handling such as caller ID, call forwarding, call queues, and ring groups, as well as an advanced auto-attendant. Other features at this level include team messaging, voicemail, and voicemail transcriptions, as well as integration with Office 365 and Google Workspace. 

The X Series X2 plan offers the ability to use Single Sign On (SSO) for audio and video meetings, and screen sharing is supported. Call recordings, unlimited fax, and unlimited calling for 14 countries is included. 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 pricing starts to seem steep at this point. However, note that pricing on the website applies for 1-99 users, and that discounts apply to each plan at both 100+ and 1,000+ users respectively. 

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 may be another issue.

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(Image credit: Aircall )

4. 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.

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(Image credit: Avaya )

5. 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 data centers.

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 scalability of the OneCloud solution has to be attractive.

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(Image credit: Vonage)

6. Vonage Cloud

The traditional cloud phone system

Mobile apps
Web-based console
Modern interface

Vonage Cloud offers an internet-based telephone service for business telecommunications. They were founded in 2001.

Vonage Cloud provides users with a complete business phone system solution through a web-based console. Users can view extension numbers, the number porting tool and setup guide.

Subscribers have access to a variety of plug-ins as well as services. Some plug-ins are free such as integration with Salesforce, Google Workspace and Microsoft 365.

The plans are priced depending on the features required, with the entry-level plan offering call forwarding and call transfer, as well as conferencing through Amazon Chime.

Vonage offer a 14-day free trial for all packages.