VoIP Services Review
Why Use VoIP Phone 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 the top 10 best Business VoIP services.
VoIP, which stands for Voice over internet Protocol, is commonly associated with services like Skype, WeChat or Facetime. However, VoIP phone services offer much more than a few apps for keeping in touch with people. They are an important business asset. VoIP replaces a traditional phone system with phone service that is delivered through your internet connection rather than your local phone company.
With advancing technology, VoIP has emerged as a reliable and cost-effective solution for small businesses. VoIP could be a good option for your business if you are looking for flexible plans that are less expensive than traditional business phone lines.
Why Choose VoIP Phone Service for Your Business?
Many VoIP services have the same quality and reliability you expect from your phone company, but they cost less and offer more features. VoIP services often have better international rates and can be used on cordless phones, computers, smartphones or tablets so you can reach clients and coworkers. Plus, you don't have to worry about dropped calls. VoIP services give you a lot of flexibility: You can direct your voicemails to your email, use a mobile app that lets you use your smartphone like your office phone, plus you can forward calls from your office to any device, including a desktop or laptop computer.
If you are looking for a system that will suit your needs at home, for local and international calling, check our international call services site. You can visit our video and web conferencing sites if you are looking for services that host secure virtual meetings. If you are in the market for a VoIP system, we encourage you to read our articles about VoIP services.
VoIP vs. PBX Systems
PBX, private branch exchange, systems are traditional business phone systems. These analog exchanges consist of physical equipment hosted in your office that connects your internal lines to external phone lines. PBX is a reliable phone system for your office, but the costs are much greater than a VoIP phone service's costs. VoIP services use software and are typically hosted in the cloud, so there is usually no hardware to purchase, install or maintain.
While VoIP systems are typically just as reliable as PBX systems, they rely on your internet connection. That means if you ever have a power outage that leaves you without internet, your phone lines will also be down. However, you can still access your VoIP account from a mobile device, if it has a data plan.
Which VoIP Phone System is Best for You?
When choosing the best VoIP service for your business, consider your budget, the size and type of your company, and what your calling needs are. Maybe add-on features will be the determining factor in your decision. For example, some VoIP services provide video conferencing in addition to phone capabilities, which is useful if you have multiple offices or remote employees.
Another important consideration is the type of plan the VoIP service offers and the contracts that are available. For example, does your business make more phone calls, or do you receive more calls? Factors such as this determine the type of service plan you should get. Furthermore, some services offer annual contracts, which typically results in lower monthly rates; others let you operate on a month-to-month basis, which may cost more per month. Also be on the lookout for a company's hidden costs like setup and early termination fees.
VoIP Phone Service: Our Evaluation
Without a doubt, the most important aspect of your VoIP service should be reliability. Nothing else matters if coverage is poor and you can't make or receive calls when you need to. Most providers on our lineup provide a service-level agreement that ensures high-quality service. Service-level agreements are critical because they provide assurances against disruptions in your VoIP service.
Top Ten Reviews seeks, whenever possible, to assess all products and services in hands-on tests that simulate as closely as possible the experiences of a typical consumer. We evaluated VoIP plans, and terms of service agreements, independently. The manufacturers had no input or influence over our reviews. Results of our evaluations were not provided to the companies in advance of publication.
VoIP Service Setup & Accessibility
One benefit of using VoIP for your phone service is that you do not have to worry about extensive setup. Since VoIP phone services are hosted in the cloud, the servers and hardware systems are provided and maintained by someone else. The only thing you have to worry about is setup on your end.
Look for a VoIP service that offers quick setup and setup support, so when it comes time to install the system, there is as little hassle as possible. When evaluating the overall ease of use of the 10 VoIP services on our list, we measured two aspects. First, we assessed how easy it is to sign up for the service. For example, can you request quotes and see your rates using the website or do you have to wait to speak with a salesperson?
The second aspect we considered was the type of equipment the service provides and the costs associated with it; for example, some companies let you connect to their network using almost any type of VoIP phone while others require that you lease equipment from them. You will want to compare prices carefully before committing to a service.
VoIP Applications, Features & Administration
VoIP phone services for business differ from standard VoIP systems you would use at home, because they offer more advanced feature sets. For example, most business VoIP services offer a virtual receptionist that greets customers and, if you have multiple lines, will direct callers to the appropriate person. They also offer solutions if your company has a high volume of callers.
Look for VoIP services that offer virtual call queuing. This service is a must when you have a high volume of calls and want to provide superb customer service. This feature gives your customers the option of staying on the line or leaving a message, knowing that the next available agent will call them back.
Other queuing methods are available but are not as customer friendly. One such method is ACD, automatic call distribution, which disperses incoming calls among available agents in the order the calls were received. Another option is hunt groups, which sends calls to specific employees on the first try. This often leads to much longer hold times, since a few employees are receiving the bulk of calls.
Not every business needs the same functions for its phone service. In our VoIP comparison, we looked at providers that offer a variety of business functions. Each service offers basic functions that most companies require like call waiting, conference calling, call transferring and a downloadable app for your smartphone, so you can take calls even when you aren't in the office. For the Overall Functionality Score, we awarded each VoIP service a letter grade (from A to F) based on the features it offers businesses. Look to our matrix to see how well each service performed.
Another thing to consider when selecting a VoIP system is scalability. Even if your company is small right now, you want a service that grows with your company as you expand. Most services offer extra lines, though some charge an extra fee.
Help & Support Quality
The final important factor we evaluated when looking for the best VoIP service is help and support. We considered the overall quality of support provided by company's representatives when interacting with them over the telephone, email and live chat. In addition, we considered whether they offer online forums and searchable FAQs, so you can quickly locate an answer to a minor question or issue you have.
We reached out to each of the companies our list, by phone and live chat (if the service offered that feature) tracking the amount of time we had to wait to connect with a representative. To receive full credit for phone assistance and live-chat support, hold times had to be less than five minutes. We also timed how long it took for a company to respond to our email inquiries. To receive full credit for email support, companies had to respond to our email in 12 hours or less.
During our interactions with each service, customer support had to provide knowledgeable answers to direct questions. If a representative simply sent links to the company website or tried to push a sale, the company didn't receive full credit. Companies also lost points when we were transferred multiple times between different agents.
Finally, we looked for a money-back guarantee. The best VoIP services offer a 30-day guarantee that allows you to cancel service at any time and for any reason. This ensures that you will not be out of luck or money if a service isn't right for you.
Our Verdict & Recommendations
RingCentral provides the best VoIP phone service to all types of businesses – both large and small. It offers reliable coverage and over 50 features, so you can create a customized phone system that offers your staff and customers the best service. In addition to being highly customizable, RingCentral's plan offers a money-back guarantee and doesn't require any long-term contract. You can simply go month to month.
Other top VoIP phone services include Jive and 8X8. Jive was one of the easiest to set up and provides a variety of business features. 8X8 meets the needs of both small and large businesses. However, enterprise functions, like queuing cost extra.