Vonage is one of the stalwarts of the industry and it’s such a wonderfully elegant and feature-rich solution you can see why it hasn’t been drowned under the weight of its competitors. It is almost completely built in the cloud so you can play around with features, add-ons and functionality, scaling up and down based on need and budget. It is around the budget area that you will maybe swallow loudly – Vonage is a bit more expensive than many of the other systems on review like Grasshopper and 3CX, but it is slightly heavier when it comes to features and reputation. In fact it was deemed “best for reliability and reputation” in our recent round up of the best small business phone systems.
Unlimited extensions - No
Pricing model - $29,99 per month for the Premium Plan
Number of users – Up to 100
Platform lock-in - None
Deployment options – Cloud
Mobility apps /access – iOS and Android
Customer service – Tutorials, learning guides, customer support centre
Vonage boldly claims that it has more than 40 features that bolster its business phone system’s performance but many of these are accompanied by a lovely little star. This means that, while the features are quite brilliant in their usefulness, you’re going to be paying extra to add them onto your solution. Some of these – virtual mailbox, call recording, call queuing, toll-free numbers and conference bridge – are free or included with other solutions so you may feel somewhat cheated at first expensive glance.
However, the features that are included in the Vonage platform – again, do check which payment plan has what – are well designed, work well and don’t give you much in the way of trouble. The Busy Lamp Field feature, for example, allows you to see the status of up to 50 other lines on your system and helps you manage busy lines and communications. We liked Click-to-Call-Me which works really well – we successfully annoyed several people on our test trial by forcing them to use the feature over and over again. It is a patented Vonage feature along with Call Continuity, programmable phone numbers and plenty others that you can view right here.
Vonage: Design and Usability
Vonage isn’t perfect and the imperfections are perhaps highlighted by the cost factor, but it is still very easy to use and has delivered the best call quality so far. Setting the system up took a realistic amount of time as you will need to pay attention to the various customisation and business branding elements on the way. We found calling to be crisp and clear with very few issues – not one call delivered that vague tinny quality or the strange echo that some systems battle with.
The cloud-based solution doesn’t ask you to spend money on extra hardware to get things going, you can simply download the Vonage MobileConnect app onto our mobile phone and enjoy an efficient array of features. These include call forwarding, follow me, never miss a call and the ability to turn your smartphone into an extension of the business. The platform can be used on your desktop as well, so you don’t actually need to invest into an IP phone to buy into this platform.
We may be fussy, but the fact that features such as Conferencing are not included in the Vonage cloud business solution really does grind, especially considering the price. You would expect that this would be a standard feature considering what the product is being used for. That said, you will get support for multiprotocol label switching (MPLS) and for software-defined wide area networking (SD-WAN) which means you can really fine tune how the system works within your business.
Vonage has also invested into a bevy of APIs and API integration so you are given the option of integrating with partners and other solutions to enhance your Vonage package. Currently they have a variety of pre-built application and CRM (customer relationship management) integrations that include SalesForce and Zendesk, among others. Useful for organisations that are looking to scale and want systems to work seamlessly with one another. It also has SIP trunks and MPLS and SD-WAN and lots of other excellent acronyms and everything can be accessed from a neat and tidy dashboard with intuitive feature layout.
Vonage may be the add-on king and cost more than some of its competitors but it is an extremely versatile and reliable platform. If you want to invest into a small business phone system that’s capable of evolving with you into becoming a large business phone system, then Vonage is a superb fit. Of course, the fact that its various features and integrations work first time, that the calls are crystal clear, and that everything worked when we tested it, is a very strong point in its favor.