The best business phone service will easily replace your old phone system or PBX at a fraction of the price, while making use and administration of it easier and simpler to manage.
Business phone services have changed radically over the past decade as digital transformation has impacted every part of the modern office. A whole range of cloud services now replacing clunky hardware, and this includes PBX phone systems to modern business phone systems.
VoIP services have now replaced the desk covered with a bank of phones. Now employees can use their mobile devices on the go, using nothing more than an app to join with the corporation's unified communications network, whether for chat, conferencing, or even to manage online fax services.
Not only do services like Ring Central 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.
Here then are the best in phone services for business, with our main choices featured, with additional options to consider following.
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- We've also featured the best IP phones.
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.
RingCentral also provides Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS) as well as Contact Center as a Service (CCaaS), meaning that it can provide the enterprise experience for even small businesses.
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.
Dialpad was founded in 2012. The company is most known for its video and audio-conferencing software, Uberconference. Dialpad Talk is their VoIP system.
The basic tier offers single sign-on which is missing from a lot of other providers. The basic plan includes integrations such as G Suite and Office 365.
The pricing structure for Dialpad makes it much more accessible for businesses of any size, which is welcome as other providers favor enterprises over small businesses. Users can also try the service with a 14-day free trial. The annual subscriptions offer discounted monthly rates making it even more cost efficient.
Pricing is a lot more small business-friendly than some of the above, with the ‘Standard’ plan costing $15 per user month. It includes toll free numbers, unlimited calling in US/Canada, call forwarding, call controls, HD video calling, call waiting, voicemail greeting, unlimited, SMS, MMS, group texting US and Canada.
Mitel offers a cloud-based business VoIP phone system 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. Note that these prices are for 50-100 users and that a smaller number of users will likely be charged at a higher rate.
However, for those with teams you can mix and match different plan types for different users, therefore ensuring you're only paying for the level of service required from each for greater cost efficiency.
8x8 All-in-One offers a cloud-based communications platform that provides different service tiers for providing calls, conferencing, collaboration, and a call center.
For small businesses, the cheapest tier available is the 8x8 Express, which is available for just $12 per month and offers a 30-day free trial. There are a lot of basic but essential features present, and this level of plan could be a great way for a very small business or start-up to try out the phone service without much outlay.
After that tier comes the X Series X2 at $25 per user per month, which 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.
Compared to other providers 8x8 can work out as a very cost-effective phone service for small businesses.
Phone.com endeavors to be an affordable business VoIP service, and with a pay per minute base plan that starts from $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 2,000 text messages, 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, the Avaya OneCloud 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.
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.