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If you're the owner of a startup or small business and are looking for a low-cost phone service that includes a toll-free number and voicemail messages via email, you should consider setting up a business phone system.
Perhaps you want to expand your business and now you need to route and manage your phone calls and faxes? Or maybe your business is a well-established enterprise, looking to save costs and simplify hardware and software requirements? No matter what you're trying to do, a wide variety of online services are available to help you put together a business phone system to scale your operations.
Thursday, October 21st
RingCentral provides the best business phone service available for VoIP business phone and fax systems and thus has earned our top recommendation. Their service is easy to use, their plan prices are very affordable with excellent features and service, their technology is state-of-the-art, and their customer service is as high quality as you'll find out there. Every month of service includes free rollover minutes as well!
Signing up for RingCentral is simple and includes immediate activation. Here are the phone services you can choose from:
With RingCentral, you get access to a web-based dashboard and reporting that will help streamline business communication. You'll have the ability to review call logs in great detail. You can access message and fax archives. You can record calls, send faxes to email addresses, use one-touch dialing, and integrate with Microsoft Outlook. The tools needed to perform system maintenance are very easy to use and you have full control over where and how calls are directed.
One of the best and most powerful features of RingCentral is the ability to create a virtual private branch exchange (PBX). This allows you to route calls among your whole team without worrying about their physical locations and add as many extensions as necessary.
If you're looking for a single, easy-to-manage, bulletproof business phone system, look no further than RingCentral. It's very affordable and helps you project a professional image to every customer you come in contact with. It also scales to as many employees as you need to bring on board. This all combines to earn RingCentral our highest rating as the best business phone system available today.
Business VoIP company "Phone" gives you full-featured phone service at a very affordable rate. Phone has dependable, U.S.-based 24/7 support and service available through phone, email, or live chat. Built to match the requirements of large and small companies, Phone has a long list of services.
You will find prices on Phone services ranging from $12.99 per month to $39.99 per month. Standard features are too numerous to list them all, but some of them include:
Each plan builds on the strengths of the prior plan by adding more and more valuable features. Some of the value-added features are:
Phone provides capabilities in their plans that are not offered elsewhere. For example, if your employees need to hear which department the caller is attempting to contact, you can set up call tagging to announce this information to the employee before they hear the caller's voice. A related feature is the ability to hear the phone number of the caller before accepting the call, rejecting the call, or sending it to voicemail. This is handy for screening callers according to priority, area of service, or rejecting common robocalls. Should the need arise to move to another service, Phone allows you to take your phone number with you, ensuring that your customers will always know where to contact you.
Reviews about Phone are generally positive with a few lower reviews for problems with customer support. A relative few complained about delays in getting responses from support representatives who didn't know the products well.
Phone has great technical and customer support, budget-oriented pricing, and advanced features to ensure that your customers will always have an impression of your business being as professional as possible.
Virtual PBX is a phone system that virtualizes a private branch exchange. It has lots of virtual phone system features for any company of any size. Since 1997, Virtual PBX has provided quick online setup, management via a web interface, and nothing extra for the user to have to do in terms of system maintenance. Simply input your employees and phones. The Better Business Bureau rating for Virtual PBX is A+ and gives them an edge over other such services. Virtual PBX has strengths with customer service and dependable business practices.
Virtual PBX has a big set of reliable features, which include:
When you use phones provided by Virtual PBX, you will want to be certain your ISP and network can handle VoIP technology, as most but not all will do today. Their phones are built to be automatically configurable. If you're doing everything exclusively from a set of mobile phones or tablets, you can use the PBX apps for iPhone and Android.
A great Virtual PBX feature is ACD (automatic call distribution). When a caller has no idea which name or extension they need, the ACD programming helps send them through a single press of a key to get an employee in the correct department. This cuts down on frustration from the customer end and will help any company avoid the problem of unattended phones or unnecessarily sending a customer to the wrong people.
Virtual PBX has been in the business of VoIP virtual phone systems for around two decades. They've even received several awards for their user-friendly tools, features, security, and redundancy. Their Better Business Bureau rating is a solid A+ with more positive reviews than negative.
With a wide range of impressive features and knowledgeable customer support, Virtual PBX is a great choice for a business phone system no matter what your size.
eVoice helps small businesses owners, website publishers, and drop shippers get started with answering customer phone calls and it's easy to get started with eVoice's phone system. First, select a toll-free or local phone number. Then, you create an account. Finally, enter your billing information and almost immediately you'll be set-up.
There are a lot of main capabilities that eVoice offers in all their plans. With eVoice, you get:
The price of eVoice compared to other services is a bit steeper, by comparison to our top-rated services. We struggled to determine if the higher price at eVoice provided anything additional than features also offered by competitors.
eVoice is not Better Business Bureau accredited, and people who reviewed eVoice did not rate it as highly as other business phone services in the same category. Common complaints included increased fees without notice, unwanted disconnects, and bill payment problems.
However, the list of features that eVoice provides is very good. If you're in need of a virtual phone system for your company, eVoice is worth your consideration.
Nextiva VoIP phone system plans promise a business phone service for every organization and to lower phone costs over traditional systems. They have three offerings: Office Pro, Office Pro Plus, and Office Enterprise. The standard features of Office Pro and across the other plans include:
Office Pro Plus adds professionally recorded greetings, call me now, and conference bridging as well as the Nextiva mobile app and team presence. Office Enterprise adds in 3 greetings, call recording, and Nextiva Anywhere which allows you to connect calls to any external number, such as a cell phone and your desk phone ringing together.
In addition to these Office plan features, the overall platform has unified account, contact, activities, user, group, and team management and a central database to bring together the customer journey across all channels. Nextiva has an intelligent automation engine to help you build workflows and efficiencies into your call routing.
The Better Business Bureau rating for Nextiva is an A+ with 85% customer satisfaction. BBB negative reviews refer to bad customer service, technical issues, billing continuity problems, and unanticipated setup complexities. Yelp positive reviews raved about high quality of customer service and tech support and quality of the phone service itself.
Judging by the comprehensive suite of features and services, and the good experiences most customers have had, Nextiva looks like a company you can trust with your business VoIP services. Just make sure you read all the fine print before signing any contracts and take some time to map out your current and future requirements clearly for support and setup technicians to be able to refer to when helping you.
Grasshopper says its service helps you look like a company with national reach while establishing a more local presence for your business. They do this by giving you a local or toll-free number, recording a custom greeting, adding departments and employees, and then delivering calls, voicemails and faxes. You can also have unlimited extensions for a steep monthly price.
Some of the features include:
Each Grasshopper extension has call forwarding, voicemail, and other messaging settings to fully customize how and where you get communications. With Grasshopper, you can access a variety of professional voice talent to make your business sound like a million-dollar enterprise. And there's a way for customers to quickly obtain store hours and directions without having to talk to a representative, saving you employee productivity.
If your company has a custom jingle you want to use, rather than a default music on hold song, it's easy to upload the custom audio file and replace the default music.
Given the higher prices that Grasshopper charges, and the fact that it has a "B" rating with the Better Business Bureau, it receives a lower rating than some other services. Although there were happy exceptions, customer comments are not quite where we wanted them to be for a world-class VoIP and virtual communication platform, with too many complaints of bad quality audio and poor customer service.
Freedom Voice is an advanced phone system for businesses that is offered at a lower price than standard phone lines. It uses network technology and hardware to create a virtual private branch exchange (PBX) and voice messaging system.
Freedom Voice has an extensive list of features including, but not limited to:
Freedom Voice also offers a variety of quality, plug-and-play enterprise-quality phones as part of the 30-day trial. They only offer three phones, which is less than most other comparable services. The good thing is that two of the three phones are included in the service. The third phone, which is more advanced, costs an additional $5 per month per phone.
Another advanced feature is the Freedom Voice CloudPBX, which hosts your phone system not at your location but in the cloud (on their servers). This, and pricing based on usage rather than "per seat", helps to give you unlimited calls while cutting down the cost of phones that aren't used as often. It also helps you scale up when your business grows without having to also add extra call handling computer hardware on your end. You just add more phones and keep going.
Freedom Voice uses TrustPilot for its reviews. On Freedom Voice's website, they claim a 9.3 out of 10 five-star Trustpilot rating. However, on Trustpilot, the number of five-star ratings equates to only an 8.7 out of 10. It seems they also include the seven percent four-star ratings in their website's overall rating. While four stars are nothing to sneeze at, we'd like to see them separate these out for clarity. The seven percent of one- to three-star ratings had to do with things like canceled numbers after payment, calls being redirected to spam numbers, poor customer issue resolution processes, having to wait for manual processes, no texting capabilities, billing problems, and more.
Overall, Freedom Voice offers a competent business phone system that would meet the needs of most businesses.
8x8 provides an iPBX system that they host for you. Whether you're running a small business or a whole call center, there are options you can benefit from. 8x8 combines a low "footprint" of hardware with voice-over-Internet protocol (VoIP) and can scale to meet the increasingly complex requirements of any company.
We were disappointed to find, though, that 8x8 does not publish its plan and device prices in ways that are easily discovered on the website. Prices are available but are several clicks deep. And, there is no online signup process. Rather, they've reverted to an old sales model where you're forced to call a phone number or fill out a web form to request a quote. This is an antiquated approach given the fact that all of their main competitors are showing upfront pricing and providing online instant signup.
Using advanced private branch exchange (PBX) functionality, 8x8 sends multiple incoming calls through one number. Because you don't have to purchase a lot of costly and complicated hardware, you can enjoy nationwide or global calling in an unlimited fashion with minimal setup and long-term savings.
The specific list of services 8x8 offers are as follows:
You can approach an 8x8 installation as a do-it-yourself model, or you can have 8x8 professionals come onsite or help you over the phone in case you have trouble. Your current phone number and fax number can be added to 8x8 also.
8x8 has a lot of rich features. However, it's not as customer-friendly as other business phone services, or as simple to get started if you have to request and wait for a quote.
MegaPath is an Internet, phone, web collaboration, and data networking provider for small, medium, and large-sized businesses. Their business phone offering is for companies with employees who work remotely, part-time, full-time, or only occasionally. In a hyper-connected world, employees often prefer to have their own phones and laptops for convenience in merging employment and personal life situations and environments.
If your business has existing hardware and wiring to incorporate into a phone system, MegaPath says it can help. They have the ability to integrate old "analog" and PRI wiring with their systems. But if you're ready to ditch that old wiring and start with fresh infrastructure, MegaPath says they can set you up with business-class Voice over Internet Protocol hardware and software.
To top it all off, you can choose from popular, feature-loaded software with your hosted voice system, such as Salesforce, Call Center technology, VoIP faxing, and Unified Communications.
MegaPath's VoIP plans advertise an impressive array of features, including:
MegaPath's site is a bit difficult to navigate in terms of finding a concise pricing table with all the VoIP plan pricing options. Eventually, a Google search with the site name included revealed a page with all the information in the expected three-column format.
Even though MegaPath has a large number of customer complaints (probably due to its relatively larger market share), it does carry the BBB A+ rating and a customer review rating of 100%. MegaPath has responded to complaints and the BBB has closed them satisfactorily whenever the customer obliged with follow-up communication. Some of the reviews were for phones but also for the Internet and data networking provisioning services they offer.
The vast majority of other online reviews were one-star ratings with lots of angry comments and complaints. It is not apparent in all cases whether VoIP services were involved. Since Yelp does not have a way for companies like MegaPath to respond to complaints, it is unknown whether any of those concerns were addressed.
Putting your faith in a cloud-based VoIP system for your business is no small matter. Consumer confidence in MegaPath seems too low to promise that you will have a satisfactory experience. For now, we recommend going with a higher-rated company.
Kall 8 is mostly geared toward the self-employed and small businesses who need to get and keep toll-free numbers. Kall 8's technologies include your own number, call-forwarding, caller ID that distinguishes Kall 8 calls and your regular phone line so you know who is a business caller and who is a personal caller.
Kall 8's pay-as-you-go rates are somewhat convoluted and difficult to understand. Rather than showing a simple three-tiered pricing table on their website, they instead present a set of tabs and tables to lay out all the possibilities. While at some point in the shopping process this level of detail could be useful, our analysis is that the first impression average phone system shoppers will get is that the service offering is needlessly complex and off putting.
Kall 8 doesn't bundle a specific number of minutes per month. Rather, they charge a low setup fee and monthly fee, then charge you a set rate for every minute, plus any offshore surcharges or international rates that get thrown in. The per-minute pricing scheme does make it more difficult to manage costs because it's not clear from month to month what the fee will be. It seems like Kall 8's pricing structure is going to be advantageous mostly for businesses that don't use their system at high volume, or who use it in fits and starts with gaps in activity.
You can retrieve fax and voicemail messages, record greetings, and set how many rings callers will hear before they are sent to voicemail.
Kall 8 provides teleconferencing for 25 people without a limit on time. You can also choose the area code from where you want to receive calls. Let's say you're on vacation on the East coast and you work on the West coast. Just set it to block only the work calls based on the state from which the call originated. You can set it by area code, area code and prefix, or per full number from your contact list. Or, if you just want calls from work until, say, 6:00 pm local time, Kall 8 can send calls to another number from 6:00 onward. You have choices based on your specific requirements.
If someone rings your toll-free number, Kall 8 issues a notification via e-mail, including time, call length, and caller ID. All of these features are managed online via web browser for easy access.
An analysis of the reviews shows that Kall 8 is having some major problems with its service quality and customer support. Complaints included accusations of fraud via autodialing mechanisms to customer numbers to jack up their costs, customer support not returning calls, and an antiquated user interface. One individual complained of explicit text messages from a Kall 8 number and another received numerous "ghost" calls.
Kall 8 has some very useful features. Just remember that it doesn't have as much as other more comprehensive services. The negative reviews are not at all encouraging. And their pay-as-you-go pricing will likely result in unexpected surprises on some monthly phone bills.
Ooma Office provides VoIP services to businesses between 2 and 200 employees in size. With Ooma Office there are no contracts and you get to keep your local or toll-free phone number through a free number transfer. You can work from anywhere and never miss a call, put office phones in multiple places wirelessly, and you can use a web administration tool that helps you set up and maintain your preferences in a way that works best for you and your employees.
Among the many features Ooma advertises are these:
Low international rates help you keep costs down when your business serves customers overseas. Assign virtual extensions to help direct calls to the needs of your workflow. Ooma even supports analog phones.
Reviews at the Better Business Bureau could have been a lot better. The BBB lists over 266 individual complaints from customers, putting the balance of negative to positive reviews overwhelmingly in the negative category. However, each of the negative reviews has been resolved to the customer's satisfaction and Ooma has kept its A+ rating and accreditation.
Ooma's feature list is impressive, and their pricing is affordable. However, given the number of problems reported to the BBB, our recommendation is to look at other business phone services with higher customer satisfaction levels.
Vonage is a household brand name that has been in the VoIP business phone systems market for a while. The Vonage Business Cloud has many features in several categories, ranging from privacy controls, customer service workflow, personalization, expense reduction, mobility, and collaboration.
Among the features offered by Vonage are:
A 14-day free trial is available if you want to try them on without an obligation. But it seems difficult to believe that 14 days is long enough to receive the equipment, set it up, and get a real feel for how it works, especially if there are any major problems or delays. There are enough Vonage competitors offering 30-day money-back guarantees to make a 14-day trials seem stingy by comparison.
Even though Vonage has an impressive feature set and has been around a long time, because of its time in the market, one would expect better customer experiences in the majority of reviews. Judging by the rather numerous and negative reviews encountered on the Better Business Bureau and other reviews sites, it appears that Vonage is a company ready for disruption by higher-rated competitors.
The business phone services we review provide local and toll-free phone numbers, route calls to multiple phone numbers at once, or send them in a predetermined order. Also, if you use a web-centric phone and fax system, all of your communications tasks can happen while you're mobile. You can block calls, monitor call activity, and retrieve messages and faxes wherever you are.
Business phone system companies like these offer online controls to boost productivity and streamline operations. They include tools such as one-touch dialing, fax-to-email and voicemail-to-email services, call recording, message archives, detailed call logs, and internet faxing. Should your team members be situated across the city, the state, the country, or internationally, cloud-based phone and fax systems can connect your entire workforce.
In the event that you don't have a large business presence in need of a phone system to match it, you can still find services that will help you on a smaller scale. You may only need a single toll-free number with call-forwarding capability where your calls are routed to existing phone numbers of your choice, wherever you are in the world. You can use the caller ID function to figure out whether a forwarded call is for business or personal reasons.
Here are some factors to look at when considering which business phone system to purchase:
TopConsumerReviews.com has ranked and reviewed the best business phone systems available today. We hope this information helps you find the right business phone system for your needs!
On March 10, 1876, Alexander Graham Bell - the inventor credited with creating the first telephone - uttered the first words ever spoken into a working device.
The telephone has come a long way since its crudest form in those early years. With crystal clear reception and phones available in all sizes, Bell would surely be shocked at what has become of his modest invention.
Phones can now be found in just about every household and business in the industrialized world. And for some businesses in particular, a working phone system is the difference between being in the red and being in the black. The kind of business phone system that is ideal for you depends on the nature of your business and the size of the company.
For some businesses, there is no need for a fancy telephone system that is capable of transferring calls to 20 different offices, complete with voicemail for every employee and videoconferencing capabilities. Small companies may find that they can get along just fine without a big, expensive business phone system, and instead opt for a cloud-based business phone system.
So when do you need a business phone system?
The first thing to ask yourself is what you intend to do with the phone system and where will you be using the phones.
Most businesses require a phone at the main reception desk, as well as one in every office or cubicle. Also, if you have data ports for computers, you will need a line for each of those. If you have a fax machine or credit card terminal, those also will require phone lines. Once you have decided on the number of phones you require, you will need to determine the number of phone lines required to guarantee calls can be received and made simultaneously. A busy signal on a business phone is the worst thing that a company could have happen. If a customer can't get through, they likely will give up and take their business elsewhere.
The important thing to keep in mind is that there is no "one size fits all" model of business phone system that will work for every business out there. For example, smaller companies likely have little need for a receptionist option on their system. Callers can be greeted with an automated message directing them to dial the person's extension they wish to reach. A separate option that lists extensions for every employee can be a part of that automated greeting.
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