Having a communication device doesn’t make you an effective communicator any more than having a piano makes you a musician – Beukelman
Having said that, communication is vital in any successful business, regardless of size, age, or industry. A company that communicates well has a better chance of finding new prospects and expanding market share; however, many small businesses are often uncertain about how to expand their internal and external communications sustainably and cost-effectively.
Though companies have more choices than ever, selecting the appropriate communications tools or a mix of devices can be particularly troublesome. Mature technologies such as the telephone and email are being perfected and sometimes superseded by new tools in the online space. Some of these new tools, like Voice over Internet Protocol, or VoIP, combine old and new technologies to provide powerful and cost-effective communication modes for individuals and businesses.
The most significant advantage of VoIP is that your business saves on costs. Besides that, VOIP increases accessibility, is completely portable, highly scalable with its advanced features for small and large teams alike with clearer voice quality, and supports multitasking.
Unlike traditional services and phones, VoIP does not need public switched telephone networks (PSTN), so you can say goodbye to phone lines and mobile towers; instead, it uses the internet to complete calls. VoIP allows sharing a phone number across multiple devices, and calls made to that number can be answered from any other device that uses the same number, thereby eliminating missed calls from customers and the need for call transfers.
What makes VoIP applications easy for everyone is their use of IP networks to pass voice signals and send multimedia files for various communications.
Today, it’s integrating further into businesses’ operations, making various work processes and collaborations more productive, thus enhancing employee and customer experiences. The key to VoIP call quality is a robust connection with good bandwidth, making its calls crisp and clear, with no latency issues, lag, or call dropouts.
Conversely, VoIP disadvantages are possible threats, including identity and service theft, phishing, viruses, malware, spamming over internet telephony, call tempering, and denial of service attacks. Also, you might incur extra costs if you use VoIP to phone someone without VoIP capabilities.
How do I choose a VoIP provider?
When considering a provider, ensure they offer the features and level of service your business needs. Here are some of the most important factors when deciding on a VoIP provider.
1. Cost and Features
Saving money is the potential for any business, and telephony costs are a big motivator to consider a VoIP phone system; compared to traditional telephone hardware, a VoIP system can significantly reduce costs. Depending on the nature of business, domestic or international, look carefully at the included features, as some providers may charge extra for qualities others possess.
2. Mobile Apps
A VoIP phone system can offer enormous benefits for businesses with remote workers, especially in the current aftermath of the pandemic. Make comparisons with parameters; forwarding calls to mobile phones is a standard feature, but do they offer a full-featured mobile app that allows users to access business SMS, faxes, and advanced voicemail? Ensure you have all the answers while considering a service provider.
3. Third-party Integrations
Another essential aspect is how well a VoIP provider works with your existing services, as without integration with third-party services, you could end up spending significant amounts of time migrating or re-creating business data that you already have within another product; so ensure your VoIP provider offers integrations with your other services.
4. Unified Services
Business telephones have evolved from landlines to cloud-based systems, to UCaaS, the next stage of that evolution; so, instead of engaging multiple providers for different services, businesses can get all of their communication needs met by a single provider in an integrated communications platform. This unified system is advantageous with its flexibility based on the features their employees need, from video conferencing and online meetings to team messaging and collaboration. The existing staff can easily configure them from a computer or mobile device, reducing managing costs, too, with all-in-one pricing from a single vendor.
WHO ARE THE BEST VOIP PROVIDERS?
With so many options in the market, it’s tough to make a choice. We made it easy for you with the list below:
- Vonage – Best Overall
- Ooma – Best For Reliability
- 8×8 – Best For Cloud Communications
- Nextiva – Best All-In-One
- MightyCall – Best for Reliability
- Verizon VoIP
- AVOXI Genius
- Unified Communications Manager By Cisco
01. Vonage – Best Overall
With 99.999% uptime, Vonage helps you increase your global presence with more than 50 phone features to help you work smarter. Its marketplace features various add-ons and integrations and is a comprehensive VoIP phone solution for businesses of all sizes. You can rely on Vonage to be there when you need it most.
Vonage is great for those companies looking for a reliable VoIP phone solution with a wide range of features and integrations.
- Business Inbox ensures that all your company’s voicemails, missed calls, and faxes get delivered to one central inbox.
- The Admin portal allows you to manage your account settings, users, features, and billing in one place.
- Vonage Meetings is a powerful video conferencing tool that lets you connect with multiple participants.
- Flexible features like call forwarding, call waiting, and caller ID helps you manage your calls more efficiently.
- Desktop and mobile apps let you take your Vonage extension wherever you go.
- With a dashboard that makes getting started easy, Vonage is simple to set up and use.
- The system status monitor keeps you up-to-date on the health of your VoIP service so that you can be proactive about any potential issues.
- You can also see the number of extensions your business currently has so you can add or remove users as needed.
Pricing: Pricing starts at $13.99 per line per month.
You can get a free quote from Vonage by filling in the form on their website.
What I Like/Dislike About Vonage:
- Excellent customer service makes it easy to get help when you need it.
- Answering phone calls from a phone, computer, or desk phone changes the game.
- Transferring a call takes a few more steps than other providers, but it’s pretty straightforward once you get used to it.
- Usability improvements now make Vonage even easier to use.
- Screen recording through the enhanced desktop application is now available.
02. Ooma – Best For Reliability
Ooma Office is a flexible service with reliable voice and video solutions with no contracts; hence you can use existing phone numbers or pick out new ones for free. Customers voted Ooma Best Business VoIP System for the 8th year as their solution offers affordable VoIP services most suitable for small and medium-sized businesses and freelancers with robust, scalable solutions that can easily support your growing business.
- Ooma Office is the best VoIP service for freelancers and is small business-oriented.
- Work from anywhere: Take business calls on your smartphone, tablet, or VoIP phone, no matter where you are.
- Unlimited US/CA calls: Make unlimited calls to any US or Canada number.
- Enhanced Call Blocking: It stops telemarketers and spammers from calling your business through automatic call blocking.
- Multi-Ring: Leverage this feature to ring multiple devices, including your VoIP phone and smartphone app, to never miss a call.
- Virtual Receptionist: Automate call management of incoming calls through routing and messaging callers.
- Mobile App: Manage all business calls on the go through its free mobile application.
- With an easily visible list of devices compatible with Ooma, finding what we were looking for was effortless.
- You can also look at other wireless, status, and more items to ensure everything is set up and ready to go.
Pricing: It offers two pricing plans, including $19.95 and $24.95 per month per user.
What I Like/Dislike About Ooma:
- 35+ advanced features for users that need more.
- It offers easy setup and installation.
- It offers unlimited calling services in the U.S., Mexico, Canada, and Puerto Rico.
- Charges lower international calling rates than other competitors
- Transfer numbers free of cost.
- Each user gets a conference bridge.
- It sends voicemail through an email attachment.
- Higher usage limits for call parks, conference, and extension monitoring.
- Its hardware cost is higher than other VoIP options.
- Users have complained about call drops.
- Ooma Office mobile app update brings more functionality to your smartphone and allows you to control your business phone system from anywhere.
- Bulk CSV Upload for IP phones Android and iOS is also now available so you can quickly provision new users.
03. 8×8 – Best For Cloud Communications
With cloud communications, 8×8 provides a single platform for voice, video, and chat applications. Businesses can use this to their advantage by integrating these features into their customer service workflows or using video conferencing capabilities to improve employee collaboration.
- Business Continuity Planning allows for a seamless transition in the event of any disruptions to your business, such as outages or natural disasters.
- Cloud Migration makes it easy to access your phone service from anywhere without worrying about hardware maintenance or upgrades.
- Collaboration and mobility features such as video conferencing and chats help improve communication and collaboration within your team, allowing you to be more productive and run your business more efficiently.
- Customer experience enhancement provides a more personalized and intuitive customer experience, helping you build strong relationships with your customers.
- Marketing and demand generation features such as automated call tracking and business analytics help you better understand your customers and target their exemplary marketing efforts.
- Finally, Microsoft Teams integration allows for seamless communication between different teams within your organization.
- With a newly launched and elegantly designed mobile app, 8×8 has made it easier to use its VoIP service on the go.
- The app is available for iPhone and Android devices, allowing users to make and receive calls, send and receive text messages, access their voicemail, and more.
There are three pricing plans when it comes to business communication:
Small business phone system: $15 per user per month
Voice, video, and chat for teams: $24 per user per month
Advanced call handling and analytics: $44 per user per month
What I Like/Dislike About 8×8:
- The ability to SMS, Talk, and video collaborate it easy to communicate with colleagues no matter where they are or what time it is.
- The seamless transition from other services is also a big plus, as you can easily switch to 8×8 without worrying about additional setup time or service disruptions.
- Being easy to identify when you have a suitable medium or bad signal is also a great feature, as it helps to ensure that your calls are always transparent and reliable.
Its integration with some CRMs can be improved to provide a better experience all-around.
Communication APIs allow portal updates and JaaS enhancements so businesses can better manage their communications from a single interface.
You can now get Conversation Insights to understand better how your team uses 8×8 and its impact on their productivity.
04. Nextiva – Best All-In-One
Nextiva is a simple and affordable cloud phone system, and they offer cloud PBX with powerful features and good audio quality. Whether you’re at a desk, on your mobile device, using a headset, or on a conference call, Nextiva offers all of the essential features of a strong VoIP service provider.
It is the best VoIP provider for businesses that want a business phone service with features like call recording, call forwarding, online fax, team messaging, and more at a reasonable price.
Nextiva has a ton of different features, including:
- Automate Customer Data: Put all your customer data in one place automatically, including call data, account history, and notes, among others.
- Know your Customer: It allows a deeper understanding of the customer by tracking and sharing information across business channels to empower teams to act accordingly.
- Live Chat: This feature enables agents to have live customer chat for faster resolution of queries while boosting overall business efficiency.
- Manage Customers: Easily manage all customer interactions to keep the context after the conversation.
- The ability to take on calls and message prospects from a single platform is a time-saver, and the Nextiva app makes it possible.
- The contact center features are top-notch, and the user interface is clean and easy to use.
- You can also look at your analytics from the same scene at the click of a button to see how your business is doing.
Its VoIP plans start from $14.95 per user per month and go up to $57.95 per user per month for the ultimate:
What I Like/Dislike About Nextiva:
- Its HD business VoIP service ensures high-quality calls reliably and securely.
- You can leverage the Nextiva smartphone app to stay connected with customers from anywhere in the world.
- It offers unlimited calling in the USA and Canada.
- Make your phone bell ring differently based on the phone number to identify priority calls quickly.
- Leverage SIP trunking to quickly establish, modify, and terminate multimedia sessions.
- Connect with customers easily through instant messaging.
- User Call Screening feature quickly decides whether to take or reject a call.
- Get textual notification straight in your smartphone through its voicemail-to-text (voicemail transcription) feature.
- Issues with the recordings sometimes make it difficult to understand what the caller is saying.
- Sometimes, it does not integrate well with the call (APP) system, which can frustrate users.
Performance improvements mean that the quality of calls is now even better,
Businesses can provide even better customer service with the new cloud-based contact center solution.
05. MightyCall – Best for Reliability
MightyCall brings a fully functional virtual phone system to your business. It’s an affordable, reliable, and cloud-based solution that makes it easy to manage your business calls.
MightyCall is well known for providing reliable VoIP service to small businesses. They offer a wide variety of features, and their pricing is very competitive.
MightyCall features include:
- Toll-Free And Local Numbers so you can have a professional appearance with a local or toll-free number.
- International numbers support so you can have callers from around the world reach you without expensive long-distance charges.
- The caller ID display shows your business name and number to the caller before they answer.
- CNAM support means that when someone calls your MightyCall number, their name will be announced to you before you answer the call.
- Custom Greeting allows you to record a professional-sounding greeting that will play to callers before they are connected to you.
- Music On Hold gives callers something to listen to while on hold.
- Business Hours Call Routing ensures that calls are only routed to you during and outside of business hours.
With a dashboard that shows your recent activities, voicemail, text messages, call history, and more, MightyCall makes it easy to see how your business is doing and where you can improve.
The visual interface makes it easy to find the necessary information and take action quickly.
These are the pricing plans on offer:
Small Team: $9 per month/user
Business: $15 per month/user
Enterprise: custom pricing based on specific needs
What I Like/Dislike About MightyCall:
- MightyCall is fast to set up.
- The visual interface is easy to use and makes it easy to find the information you need.
- Blocking specific numbers could be a more straightforward process, but if you don’t need to
- MightyCall now partnered with PartnerStack to offer its affiliates an all-round better experience
- The new multi-level IVR feature takes AutoReceptionist to the next level
06. Grasshopper. Best for Businesses on the Go
Grasshopper is probably the most popular and well-known VoIP provider as it offers a robust and fully functional VoIP solution best for mobile businesses and people on the go. It allows you to add virtual business phone systems to your phone, and VoIP plans start at just $26 per month. Also, it provides excellent features for mobile businesses and freelancers that don’t need a landline for business communications.
It is best for small businesses and entrepreneurs on the go that want a professional business phone number routed to their cell phone, computer, or desk phone.
- Vanity Numbers: It offers easy-to-remember vanity numbers to encourage more customers to call your business.
- Robust Support: It provides 24/7 support from the USA to ensure reliable service at every hour of the day through the week.
- Unified Messaging: Easily manage calls, texts, and emails from a single point to keep track of all applicable information.
- Gmail Integration: No need to buy a business suite. Easily link your existing Gmail account for all the information.
- With top-notch desktop and mobile apps that work as they should, it’s easy to keep business calls and texts in one place with the help of Grasshopper.
- The user interface is easy to use and intuitive, making it a great choice for small business owners or anyone needing a reliable and feature-rich business phone service.
Pricing: Its paid plans start at $26 and go up to $80. They also offer a 7-day free trial.
What I Like/Dislike About Grasshopper:
- It offers vast options of vanity, local, or toll-free numbers. You can also port your number easily.
- Leverage the Timeline View feature to track all interactions with the contact.
- Deliver quick replies and updates through text messages from your business number.
- Efficiently send incoming calls to voicemail through the click of a button.
- Reliable calling to ensure a clear voice on calls.
- Complicated at times to understand how to use, so more training might be required.
- Based on the location, the call does not always come through, jumbling up words or completely disconnecting the call.
- Send instant text responses to first-time callers so they know you’re available even when you can’t answer the phone
- Any user can now send and receive SMS texts from their business number to stay connected with clients, even on the go.
07. RingCentral – Best for Medium-Sized Businesses.
RingCentral offers a reliable VoIP phone service solution and is most famous for its robust network in the US, Europe, and Asia. The VoIP phone system has an extensive feature range to meet different business requirements.
- RingCentral offers full-service VoIP that is perfect for small businesses.
- Audit Trail: This feature allows easy tracking of changes made by any user in the phone system. It offers a searchable account history to resolve critical issues efficiently.
- Hot Desking: Users can easily log in to shared phones and share their voicemail, extensions, greetings, and other features.
- Video Conferencing: It is a video conferencing tool that can conduct meetings with up to 500 people.
- Business MMS and SMS: It eliminates the usage of personal phones by providing a professional text solution.
- With big shortcut buttons to manage call forwarding, screening, voicemail, and other features, the RingCentral app makes it easy to stay on top of your business calls and messages.
- Various tutorials can help you learn how to use the features, which is very helpful.
Pricing: Its pricing plans start from $19.99 per month per user and go up to $49.99 per month per user.
What I Like/Dislike About RingCentral:
- Easily collaborate with teams by chatting in real-time through any internet-enabled device.
- It eliminates the need for multiple passwords with a single sign-on facility.
- Its analytical portal offers consolidated Live Reports, Quality of Service Reports, and Meetings Dashboards in a single place, along with over 30 new metrics, endpoint reporting, and data visualization.
- Leverage live reports to track agent performance and gauge customer satisfaction.
- Easily connect with up to 1,000 people through its audio conferencing facility.
- Leverage free calling to global offices to cut down phone bills.
- They outsource their customer support, so it can be challenging to get the best solution when you have an issue.
- Webview support for Android lets you view Visualforce pages in the RingCentral app on your Android device.
- The updated Reply Assistant design makes finding the perfect response to an incoming message more accessible.
CloudTalk helps you efficiently create a virtual network phone framework for customer service and sales teams. The tried and tested VoIP software vendor has provided services to over a thousand clients and offers robust VoIP solutions.
CloudTalk is one of the leading VoIP providers for call centers.
Cloudtalk key features
- Personalization: CloudTalk allows you to create personalized greetings that you can play based on different situations.
- Internal Phone Number Tags: Give employees a tag so that they and agents can instantly figure out the number the client has dialed and how to adjust their approach.
- Skills-Based Routing: Call routing to a specific agent depending on their capabilities and skills to meet the caller’s requirements.
- Speech To Text: CloudTalk’s speech recognizer efficiently converts calls into text transcripts that can be searched easily in recordings.
Cloudtalk user experience
- With the ability to easily add agents and ensure that all customer calls are answered promptly, Cloudtalk offers an excellent user experience.
- Additionally, the visual interface makes it easy to see how your business is performing and what areas may need improvement.
- The left-hand side menu makes it easy to find and use all of the features CloudTalk offers.
- Its paid plan starts at $25 per month billed annually and goes up to $50 per month billed annually.
- There’s also a custom solution available.
What I Like/Dislike About CloudTalk:
- International calls and phone numbers with geographic or non-geographic pin codes for over 70 countries.
- Easily define your business hours to make yourself available for calls only during the specified hours.
- Automatically redirect customers’ incoming calls to the specified phone number every time your agent is either busy or unavailable for some reason.
- Through real-time, customer card agents can get access to end-to-end caller data.
- Easily integrate CloudTalk with external systems to import and export contacts and maintain the regular download history of orders, phone calls, and tickets.
- Leverage sentiment analytics to monitor your agent’s calls and let supervisors intervene whenever it is necessary.
- The mobile app for iOS and Android devices could use minor improvements.
- Integration with third-party applications could be more extensive.
- Login using SSO methods on the go; now, you can quickly log in to your CloudTalk account using Google, Microsoft, or Apple ID.
- Call Flow Designer Enhancements make it easier for you to design and manage your call flows. You can preview how your call flow will work before saving it.