Why Use a Business VoIP Service?
The top performers in our review are RingCentral, the Gold Award winner; Jive, the Silver Award winner; and 8x8, the Bronze Award winner. Here’s more on choosing a service to meet your needs, along with detail on how we arrived at our ranking of 10 Business VoIP services.
Communication is the backbone of most small businesses, and phone calls connect people in real time. With advancements in business VoIP services' reliability and cost-effectiveness, more businesses are turning to voice over internet protocol (VoIP) to handle their calling needs. If you are looking to replace your existing phone system for more flexibility and lower rates, VoIP for small businesses could be a good option for you.
Why Choose VoIP for Business?
In addition to saving you money on long-distance calls, using a business VoIP service instead of a traditional landline service provides increased flexibility for you and your employees. VoIP calls have the same quality and reliability as standard phone calls, but they cost significantly less. This web technology lets you talk to others with your computer rather than a phone, which allows you to pull up caller information without switching devices. VoIP for business also provides additional features like sending your voicemail to email and mobile apps, which allow you to place and receive office calls on your smartphone.
Other Business Phone Options
VoIP services have many uses; they range from single-home use all the way up to large corporations. Picking the right plan for your needs is important. If you are looking for a VoIP system on a smaller scale, for your home or a small office, you may want to explore our VoIP services review. Or, if you are interested in a service that lets you place a high number of international calls at low rates, you may want to look into international call services. For additional feature information and recommendations, read our articles about the best VoIP for small businesses.
Some businesses use traditional PBX (private branch exchange) systems, which are analog. VoIP uses software and is typically hosted in the cloud. Business VoIP systems use much less hardware than a PBX phone system and allow you to store notes and contact information from previous conversations.
Which Business VoIP Is Right for You?
It's important to consider your budget and calling needs when deciding which plan is right for you. Depending on how many employees you have and what features you need, some VoIP providers will suit you better than others. For example, some services offer video conferencing capabilities, which could be advantageous for customer support or communicating with employees that work remotely.
The type of contract available from the business VoIP provider is another important thing to consider. Some businesses prefer to be on an annual contract, which typically results in more affordable monthly payments compared to those that opt for a month-to-month agreement. Whichever plan you opt for, be sure to see if the provider has any hidden fees like a startup or early termination fee.
Business VoIP: Our Evaluation
It goes without saying – the most important trait of a good business VoIP provider is reliability of service. Most providers offer a service-level agreement to its customers, which guarantees service availability and strong voice quality for calling. These agreements are important and give you peace of mind knowing you almost certainly won't have to deal with outages or disruptions in service.
Top Ten Reviews seeks, whenever possible, to evaluate all products and services in hands-on tests that simulate as closely as possible the experiences of a typical consumer. We analyzed VoIP plans, and terms of service agreements, independently and the manufacturers had no input or influence over our reviews. Results of our evaluations were not provided to the companies in advance of publication.
Business VoIP Setup & Accessibility
One benefit of having your small business VoIP system hosted through another service is that you do not have to worry about maintaining your system on site. Updates and maintenance are taken care of by your provider. Given that the hardware is stored and maintained by someone else, you only have to worry about setup on your end.
When you choose a provider, you need assurance that you can easily access service and set it up without hassle, unnecessary steps or specialized IT support. When we assessed the user-friendliness of services, we considered a couple of significant components. One of these was how easy it was to access and sign up for the service. For example, can you request a quote online or do you have to wait for a salesperson to call you?
Some business VoIP providers also allow you to lease or purchase equipment like phones directly from them, so be sure to compare prices and the features for the handsets if you don't already have hardware.
Business VoIP Applications, Features and Administration
Logically, business VoIP differs from standard VoIP services by offering a more advanced business feature set. Most providers have a virtual receptionist that greets your callers and points them in the right direction if you have multiple lines. They offer different variations of calling queues for businesses that have a high call volume.
Call queuing comes in several forms. ACD queues distribute calls evenly across the list of available employees, while hunt groups will ring certain employees first every time so that, for example, your employees who are best with customer service get the bulk of the calls. Virtual queuing is a great courtesy feature because it gives your caller the option to leave a message and hang up, knowing the system will send the message to the next available agent to call them back. We favored services with these features in our ranking.
Because not all businesses need the same features, we compared each provider's variety of business call functions. Each service we reviewed still has basic calling features such as call waiting, conference calling and call transfer capabilities. Also, your provider should have a downloadable app for your Android smartphone or iPhone. This way you can forward calls, check messages, view contact lists and change settings on the go.
Not only that – most business VoIP services are scalable, so as your business grows your VoIP service can expand with you. Whether you are using your business phone system for interdepartmental communication, customer support or as a call center of sorts, most providers offer additional lines, but usually for an extra fee.
Help & Support Quality
The last important area we considered when choosing the best small business VoIP providers is help and support. We considered factors like whether they had online forums or a searchable FAQs page. More importantly, we evaluated the quality of the support provided by customer service via telephone, email or live chat. To measure all of these factors we developed a help and support score, based on the factors explained below.
We kept track of hold times over the phone and chat, as well as wait times before a representative responded to our email inquiries. Services that had hold times less than five minutes received full credit for live chat or phone assistance. Those that responded in less than 12 hours via email received full credit.
When representatives gave assistance we looked for support that provided knowledgeable answers to specific questions and did not just provide links to areas on the company website. Companies that transferred us between agents multiple times did not receive full credit in the help and support quality score.
Lastly, we checked to see if the providers offered any sort of money back guarantee in case you are dissatisfied with your service and wish to cancel. Most business VoIP providers have a 30-day guarantee for their services.
Our Verdict & Recommendations
RingCentral provides businesses of all types and sizes with the best VoIP service available. It has a reliable network with more than 50 features, mobile apps and automated call-distribution queues, and it integrates smoothly with several online apps that you may already use at your place of work. Not only are RingCentral's plans customizable, it also doesn't require a contract, and it offers a 30-day money back guarantee.
Other business VoIP providers to consider are Jive and 8x8. Jive is easy to set up, is reliable and offers one of the widest feature sets for a business VoIP system. 8x8, is a business VoIP system that is a good choice since it can meet the needs of both small and large businesses. However, it lacks some enterprise-level functions like call queuing, which costs extra.