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The internet revolutionized telecoms by making Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) available, but the development of cloud-based phone systems such as RingCentral and the proliferation of mobile devices has transformed the telecoms market even further.
Whereas before it would take lots of hardware and months of setting up to put a business telecoms network into play, now it takes minutes with a cloud-based VoIP solution.
Even better, the costs have gone down significantly due to the lack of need to invest in infrastructure, meaning that the latest telecoms solutions for business are incredibly accessible and very cost-effective.
For the startup business, it's never been easier or so cheap to set up a business phone system or even a call center solution.
For the established business, not only are cloud-based VoIP systems more cost-effective, but the availability of analytics means that not only can staff productivity and the customer journey be better tracked, but it's also simple to gain actionable insights from the business intelligence provided.
Whichever VoIP system you're thinking of buying into, here we present the best currently on the market in 2020.
An accessible VoIP solution from an old reliable
RingCentral Office offers a leading cloud-based VoIP platform, with a comprehensive range of features available that should provide everything you need for your business phone system. On top of this, there are powerful customizations available to more fully integrate RingCentral Office into other applications using APIs.
Pricing for RingCentral Office plans varies according to the number of users, plan selected, and whether you pay monthly or yearly, which can produce some extreme variations in pricing. For example, a single user paying monthly, the standard plan would cost a steep $49.99, while for 2 or more employees paying annually the same plan would cost $24.99 per user.
For discussing pricing and features, we'll simplify this by presuming 2-99 users paying annually, with pricing increasing or decreasing for less or more users respectively:
The cheapest plan comes in at $19.99 per user per month and really offers a fairly limited range of features, such as unlimited calls in the US and Canada, as well as a toll-free or local number with 100 free minutes - barely just over an hour. On the plus side, however, there are call management features and phone system administration tools, and audio is provided in full HD voice. There's also a voicemail to email feature, as well as voice to text.
It's only really when you go up a step get to the Standard plan at $24.99 per user per month that the full power of this cloud-based VoIP system really begins to show. There's unlimited audio and video conferencing, though with the latter limited to four participants. It's at this level that the multi-level attendant becomes available, along with unlimited internet fax.
However, the Premium plan, priced at $34.99 per user per month increases the video conferencing limit to 100 participants, and also adds Single Sign On (SSO), multi-site support, and integration with CRM software such as SalesForce and Zendesk.
Additional numbers are available for an extra monthly fee, allowing for toll-free, local, international, and vanity numbers as required.
Altogether, while the basic plan is quite basic, the higher level plans show-off the wide range of comprehensive built-in features that RingCentral Office can offer. Additionally, with APIs available in the backend, this is a VoIP solution that can be scaled and customized accordingly.
The small-business friendly VoIP phone system
Dialpad was founded in 2012. The company is most known for its video and audio-conferencing software, Uberconference. Dialpad Talk is their VoIP system.
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.
The ‘Pro’ plan starts at $20 per month per user. It includes all the ‘Standard’ plan has to offer plus hold queues, 24/5 days support, international numbers, international offices in over 40 countries, multiple offices supported, Zendesk, Salesforce and Slack integration.
The ‘Enterprise’ package include extras such as 24/7 support, Enterprise SLA, professional services support, admin APIs, custom analytics and reporting.
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.
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.
Bring your phone system to life with this handy VoIP solution
8x8 Inc provides cloud communications and customer engagement solutions. These include voice, contact center, video, mobile and unified communications for small, medium to enterprise business.
There's a basic 8x8 Express plan available from $12 per month per user, which offers a basic if decent range of services that could be especially attractive to small businesses.
The X Series X2 plan plan starts at $25 per month per user and includes unlimited calling within 14 countries, phone number, extension dialing, voicemail, auto attendant, click to dial, music on hold, call recording, call queues, mobile/desktop apps, team messaging, unlimited internet faxing, 100 participants and analytics essentials. The system also integrates with G Suite, Office 365, Outlook, NetSuite, Salesforce and ZenDesk.
The X Series X4 plan costs $45 per month per user and adds unlimited calling within 47 countries, an operator switchboard, and reporting analytics. The X Series X6 package starts at $110 per month per user and offers 4,000 minutes within 47 countries, skills-based routing, multi-level IVR, callback, and contact center analytics.
The system is easy to setup and has a variety of features. The lower end could easily suit a small business, while the more expensive options are specifically aimed at enterprises.
VoIP services from a long running provider
Mitel MiCloud Connect offers a unified communication solutions for business. Its main focus is almost entirely on VoIP products for the enterprise market.
Pricing below assumes between 50-100 users, so expect it to cost more for few users, and potential discounts for more users:
The ‘Essentials’ tier starts at $20.99 per user per month. It includes PBX features, collaboration, conferencing, call routing, personal agent queuing and reporting.
The ‘Premier’ package, said to be the most popular, weighs in at $26.59. It includes extras such as CRM integration, call recording, outbound dialler, callbacks, skills and priority routing.
The ‘Elite plan starts at $38.49 per month per user. It includes archiving, operator and multimedia routing.
Mitel MiCloud Connect has many features which aren’t commonly found with most VoIP provider. These include the ability to link your cell number to your work extension, customizable hold music and voicemails can be transcribed and emailed to you.
Users can also access more common features such as auto attendant, rerouting, call forwarding, call holding and call parking. The system is also available on your browser as well as on desktop and mobile applications.
A cost-effective and well-featured VoIP provider
Jive provides communications and collaboration software for business. It was founded in 2001.
Pricing is based on the number of users. There are 5 tiers available.
‘Tier 1’ pricing is for between 1-4 and costs $29.95 per month. ‘Tier 2’ covers 5-9 users and is $25.95 per month. ‘Tier 3’ is $23.95 for between 10-24 users. ‘Tier 4’ is for 25-49 users and costs $21.95. Finally, ‘Tier 5’ is $19.95 for over 50 users.
The more users you have, the cheaper your monthly per user costs. The company also offer customized pricing for businesses with over 100 users.
Jive offers the same variety of features no matter what you pay. This includes auto attendant, virtual fax, end-to-end encryption, call recording, custom hold music, call parking, call forwarding in addition to call center-specific features such as wait time announcement and agent login/logout.
Whisper is a feature unique to Jive and allows admins instruct their agents while they are on a call.
Jive also integrates with Salesforce, Zoho and Redtail.
More VoIP providers to consider
The market for VoIP is a crowded one, but there are a lot of good providers delivering on a quality service. Here we'll provide honourable mentions for other VoIP providers worth considering.
Vonage Business Cloud offers a scalable solution to VoIP, allowing you to implement more software without requiring additional infrastructure or increasing costs. This is especially useful as Vonage Business Cloud integrates with a number of other useful platforms, such as Microsoft Office 365, Google's G Suite of services, and SalesForce, among others.
Ooma Office includes a VoIP service that aims to deliver a big business phone experience to small businesses. This does mean that Ooma recommends you use their hardware for a low initial cost, but after that the cost is $19.95 per user per month, which gives you access to a fully-fledged VoIP PBX service with 35+ features.
3CX offers an open standards IP PBX service that can also be run on premises or in the cloud. There are also Android and iOS apps to support the service, as well as CRM integration options, with live chat, talk, and conferencing options also available. For small businesses there's an option to run as a VM, but for enterprises there's the ability to run it from native clouds.
AirCall is a general cloud-based VoIP platform to cover most business needs regardless of size. It also comes with a ton of integration options, such as for SalesForce, Zendesk, Slack, Zoho Projects, Shopify, and more, making it a particularly flexible and potentially valuable addition to any existing business setup.
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