As a new business sets up operations, communications usually take top priority. Being able to make and receive phone calls, receive and send emails, and interact with customers through social media is essential to getting cash flowing. Traditional phone systems can be pricey and cumbersome, especially for small businesses that have limited resources. Thankfully, cloud-based VoIP phone systems can get a new business up and running in a matter of minutes.
But with so many solutions, each with its own features set, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed during your search for the right software. It can make things easier if you’ll first narrow the list to the top solutions geared specifically to the unique needs of small businesses. But first, you should identify what you’re looking for in a small business solution. There are certain things that help certain solutions qualify as the best small business VoIP service.
What to Look for in a VoIP Solution
Your top priority when looking for a phone system will likely be cost. You understandably have a limited budget and the more you can save on monthly costs, the more of your earnings you’ll preserve. You’ll find many of today’s business VoIP providers charge a small monthly fee, but all prices aren’t equal. You should consider the features each company offers and keep that in mind. If, for instance, your VoIP solution of choice offers fax-to-email or integration with your CRM, you’ll be able to automate tasks and eliminate other software you have in place, potentially saving money.
Integrations will actually be what makes a solution the perfect fit for your own organization. Although many solutions can integrate with a wide range of options, only you know the other software you’ll be using. If you haven’t chosen a CRM, office suite, or inventory management tool, you may find it easier to search, since you’ll be open to whatever the provider offers. However, if you have preferences as to what other software you’ll be using, look into the integrations offered to make sure a software you’re comfortable using is covered.
Data has become an important part of running a business. With the right VoIP solution, a large part of the work will be done for you, since information will be gathered on every interaction. You can pull reports specific to location, employee, customer satisfaction, and much more with today’s business VoIP solutions. If you have a sales team, you can even ignite the spirit of competition by ranking team members in real time by their successes.
Beyond all of these features, it’s also important to look at a VoIP solution’s security and customer service offerings. You’ll likely find that this can be the deciding factor if you’re torn between two options. A retailer that stays open late each night may find a provider that offers later service areas may have an edge, while a business with traditional banker’s hours may not consider that to be as important as top-of-the-line protection against data breaches.
Top Features Needed
As you review various products, you’ll notice each has its own set of features, many of which overlap. The right solution will have all the features that are most important to you, plus a few others that enhance your business in ways you hadn’t planned. Here are some of the top VoIP features to look for as you research business VoIP options.
- Sequential ring—With so many professionals working remotely, it’s important to be able to route calls to a combination of desk and cell phones.
- Mobile app—It’s also often essential to find a solution that includes a mobile app to control your settings on the go.
- Call recording—Whether you choose to record every call for quality control purposes or a few select calls for training, call recording can come in handy as a feature.
- High-definition videoconferencing—The remote nature of today’s workforce makes videoconferencing more valuable than ever.
- High-definition audioconferencing—One-to-one phone chats can only get your team so far. Audioconferencing lets everyone discuss a project or task to get things done more quickly.
- Messaging tools—Whether it’s chat or instant messaging, a full-featured VoIP system will offer multiple messaging options for businesses.
- Call diagrams—Many small and midsized businesses need the ability to set up calls to ring in a predetermined sequence.
- Virtual faxing—On those occasions when a business needs to send a fax, virtual faxing is a handy tool to have.
- Voicemail to text—This may be an optional feature for many businesses, but as workers get busier, being able to read voicemails on the go will become increasingly important.
- Analytics—Your reporting needs are likely very specific to your organization, but you should be able to access reports that can help you improve your business.
Best VoIP for Small Business
VoIP phone systems come in a variety of packages. Some are better than others, offering a wider range of features specifically targeted to the needs of small businesses. Below is a list of some of the best small business VoIP providers on the market today.
Nextiva’s VoIP phone service incorporates the full range of features that small businesses today look for in a phone system. The company has created a service that can work across a wide range of industries, even customizing features for specialized needs. Phone systems include unlimited calling and virtual faxing, audio and videoconferencing, call recording, instant messaging and chat rooms, and easy feature management through a mobile app. When you place a call from any device, including your cell phone, you can have it display to the person on the other end as your office number. In addition to calling and team collaboration features, you’ll also have access to analytics, including historical call reports and real-time call activity. You can get Nextiva’s basic features for as low as $19.95 per month, which includes unlimited calling and virtual faxing. To add on call recording and three professional greetings, you’ll need to upgrade to the $27.95 per month plan.
With Mitel MiCloud, you’ll control everything from a single screen, including your team’s voice, email, and instant messaging settings. The solution can integrate with existing solutions to expand its capabilities, including boosting the efforts of your sales teams. Features include local phone numbers and unlimited local and long distance calling within the U.S. and Canada. You can also automatically transition between day and night rules for your call routing and set up a corporate auto-attendant to give your SMB the appearance of a large company. Other features include audioconferencing and voicemail with email forwarding. Pricing is not publicly provided, but you can get a quote by completing a form on the Mitel MiCloud website.
RingCentral’s small business VoIP system offers more than 50 features, including auto-receptionist, one-click calling from any computer, automatic call recording, SMS, internet fax, and integrations with some of the most popular solutions. Call reports come in the form of graphical dashboards that help you get an overview of various statistics relating to your team, company, and customer base. RingCentral’s collaboration features include team messaging, real-time file sharing, task management, and video meetings. You can access the basic plan with most of the features for $19.99 per user per month, which allows unlimited video and audio meetings for up to four participants. You’ll need a $24.99 monthly plan to get an auto-attendant, internet fax, and call log reports, and a $34.99 monthly plan adds on automatic call recording, multisite support, integrations, and voicemail transcription to text.
Unlike other VoIP solutions, Grasshopper is a completely virtual system, operating solely on cell phones and computers. You’ll simply choose a phone number, download all the necessary apps, and configure your settings to have incoming and outgoing calls route through that phone number. You can use that same number to text, fax, set up greetings, and pull call reports. Since it’s all virtual, there’s no equipment to purchase and set up, and adding a new employee to your directory is as easy as configuring your settings. If you’re a solo business operator, you can set up one number with up to three extensions for $29 per month. Three numbers with six extensions will cost $49 a month, and five numbers with unlimited extensions will be $89 per month.
If you have a small team, Gabbit may be the best small business VoIP provider. The service is simple and straightforward, with features like auto-attendant, find me/follow me, time-based routing and scheduling, customizable on-hold music, and a web portal to manage it all. You’ll get high-quality audio and continuity of service. However, the pricing is best for businesses that plan to stay extremely small for a while, since you’ll pay $35 per month for each line. You also won’t get the internal collaboration tools other VoIP solutions provide, adding to the argument for it as a one-person operation phone system.
With more than 80 features, Jive’s business VoIP service can cater to the needs of businesses of all sizes. The pricing tiers are what make Jive work for small businesses. All plans include all features, with Tier 1 designed for one to four users at $29.95 per user and Tier 2 costing $25.95 per user for 5-9 users. Desk phones integrate with cell phones to make your Jive phone system work seamlessly, which is also ideal for the entreprenuer who needs to manage operations on the go. Features include virtual fax, voicemail to email, custom greetings, custom hold music, ring groups, auto-attendants, and much more.
8×8 has separate phone plans for different types of business. The small business plan includes all the tools you need for voice, video, and collaboration. You’ll get enterprise-grade features like auto-attendant and music on hold, as well as team-friendly tools like web conferencing, virtual faxing, and video meetings. You can choose to use 8×8’s virtual-only service and run your business off cell phones or you can purchase 8×8’s VoIP handsets for desk-based phone service. Plans start at $25 per month per user, but the $35 monthly plan adds call recording. For $55 per month per user, you’ll get analytics and contact center.
As a small business VoIP provider, eVoice runs completely in the cloud, routing calls to your cell phones and offering features like advanced call routing rules, an auto-attendant, and a dial-by-name directory. You can even create your own phone greeting to represent the voice of your company the way you want it presented. If you aren’t happy with your own voice, have an employee, colleague, or friend record the greeting. The basic plan is $12.99 per month and covers up to 300 minutes, two extensions, and six phone numbers. However, you’ll need to go with a plan with 1,000 minutes or more to get inbound faxing and VIP support, and those plans start at $29.99 per month.
FluentStream crosses all industries with a phone system that comes with an easy-to-use web portal and more than 90 features plus integrations. Those features include find me/follow me, call recording, auto-attendant, and call detail records. With some plans, you’ll also get 24/7 help from a U.S.-based support team. There are plans specific to startups, small to midsized businesses, and enterprise-level organizations. If you use apps like Salesforce and Zendesk, you’ll be able to integrate your phone system with those, as well. One thing lacking with FluentStream is the internal collaboration found with some other VoIP solutions, but this may not be an issue for smaller businesses. The basic plan comes with 41 features including music on hold, find me/follow me, call detail records, and 9-to-5 local support and costs $20 per user per month. For 77 features, upgrade to advanced, which adds on auto-attendant, internet faxing, call recording, and 24/7/365 support, but you’ll need to request a quote to get pricing. You can also go with the complete package that includes 104 features and adds a complete conference bridge.
Skype has become known as a best VoIP for small business users, primarily because of its free price model. One of the biggest downsides of the free plan, though, is that the person at the other end of the call will need to have the software, as well. You’ll need to upgrade to the $2.99 per month standard plan to get Skype-to-phone capabilities, which will include unlimited minutes within the U.S. For $6.99 per month you can expand unlimited calling to eight destinations, including Canada and Mexico, and $13.99 a month will give you Skype-to-phone calls to 63 destinations across the globe. Although Skype may be a go-to for some businesses, its features are limited and more geared toward those who want to simply videoconference, call, and chat.
RingByName’s unique feature is the demographic information it provides on each prospect. Instead of merely getting a name and contact information, you’ll see demographics, financial data, and information on whether their home is owned or rented. These features make RingByName ideal for sales teams or call centers that spend their days vetting prospects, since you’ll be able to save time by cutting straight to those most likely to buy. RingByName can also offer handsfree dialing by providing Amazon’s Alexa as a personal calling assistant. The basic plan costs $24.99 a month per user and includes features like customized greetings, music on hold, advanced call routing, voicemail to email, and a virtual receptionist. Upgrading to $34.95 per month will give you e-fax capabilities, and the $44.95 plan includes free call recording.
Like many top business VoIP solutions, ClarityTel prides itself on offering a scalable solution with pricing geared toward small to midsized businesses. Features include music on hold, voicemail to email, find me/follow me, intercom, time of day routing, and the ability to make and receive calls on your mobile device with your business phone number showing up on the answerer’s caller ID. Pricing is based on the number of lines, starting with $19.99 per line per month for 25 to 50 lines. If you have one to nine lines, you’ll pay $24.99 per line per month. ClarityTel’s practice of charging per line can make it cost prohibitive to small businesses with a few employees, though, especially considering that you’ll need to purchase a separate plan at $11.99-$14.99 per month to add faxing capabilities.
Vonage’s edge comes from its Amazon Chime Pro tier, which powers features like online meetings, videoconferencing, chat, file-sharing, and enterprise-grade features at small business prices. The solution is highly scalable, so your phone system will follow you as your business expands its team and attracts more customers. Vonage also integrates with popular office solutions like Office 365, G Suite, Salesforce, and Microsoft Dynamics. Specialized solutions are available for retailers, law firms, financial organizations, and more. The basic plan is $19.99 per month per user and includes unlimited calling and SMS on your mobile devices or a computer. If you want the capability to make calls from a desk phone, though, you’ll need to at least choose the $29.99 per month per user plan, which also adds a multilevel auto-attendant, videoconferencing and chat, and CRM integrations. For full features, there’s the premium plan at $39.99 that provides call recording, call groups and visual voicemail.
TDS is one of the best small business VoIP providers because they offer two plans. One is a basic plan that includes the phone and internet over analog lines, augmenting basic phone services with VoIP features like on-hold music and simultaneous mobile and desk phone ring. However, their more robust hosted VoIP package adds on a variety of features, depending on the plan you choose. With a simple seat package, prices start at $24.95 per month and include 16 basic features, including call forwarding and call logs. The mobility and management package starts at $27.95 and offer 41 features, including three-way calling and click-to-dial. For a price starting at $31.95 you can get TDS’s unified communications package with 46 features, including instant messaging and a virtual collaboration room.
Frontier has separate bundles on business size. If you have less than 20 employees, you’ll need the small business plan, whereas 20-plus workers graduates you to the medium-enterprise plan. However, these two packages are designed to bundle both phone and internet, so if you already have internet in place, you’ll want to go with a voice-only plan, which starts at $19.99 per user per month and includes nationwide and local calling plans plus voicemail, caller ID, and call forwarding. Voice plans also come with Frontier AnyWare, which offers enterprise-grade collaboration features like sharing and conferencing, allowing your team to communicate across multiple device types. In addition to the $19.99 plan, Frontier offers plans starting at $29.99 that include basic voicemail and caller ID.
Disaster recovery is Broadvoice’s top priority, promising to restore a business within eight seconds no matter what happens. Features include the ability for supervisors to listen in on calls, hot desking, and SMS. Broadview’s pricing is based on the services you need, so you won’t pay for features you don’t want, which sets Broadview apart from many of the other solutions on the market. You can also add on a virtual call center on a per-user basis if you need to respond to calls from customers on an ongoing basis.
Phonebooth specializes in business VoIP, with features like transcribed voicemail, intelligent call routing, and auto-attendant. For only $20 per user per month you’ll get unlimited local and long distance calling, which includes voicemail transcription, auto-attendant, find me call routing, and conference calling. However, like other similar plans, this might not be a good option for businesses that plan to grow beyond one-person operations, since $20 per user can quickly add up. Still, for solopreneurs starting out, you’ll get two free phone numbers and unlimited group conferences at that rate, so it may be a good deal for some. You also won’t sign a contract, so it could be a great way to get started with VoIP.
You’ve likely already heard of Comcast, which provides business and residential internet along with its cable TV services. Comcast Business services also include VoIP services to businesses of all sizes, with packages including unlimited local and long distance calling, hunt groups, and voicemail to email. Comcast also offers a more advanced VoiceEdge plan that adds on unified communications features like an automated attendant and a web portal to manage all of your phones. One downside to Comcast’s phone systems is that they still have a traditional “phone company” mentality in that they charge a per-seat fee for installation. You may be able to save money by bundling your phone and internet, though, if you plan to go with Comcast’s internet service, so it might be worth checking into.
VoiceBuy offers a unique feature that only some VoIP-based business phone systems provide. With VoiceBuy’s DID numbers, you can set up local phone numbers across the globe, allowing you to have a local presence in other countries. Other features offered by VoiceBuy include call forwarding, hunt groups, an answering system, and an intuitive web-based control panel for managing it all. Best of all, you can access VoiceBuy’s basic features at no cost whatsoever. However, you will pay for the calls you make, although the rates you’ll pay are advertised as “wholesale.” You’ll also pay a monthly charge for the DID numbers you choose.
VOIPo offers phone service and cloud numbers to small businesses, with basic phone systems as low as $6.21 per month. Basic features include advanced voicemail, call history, voicemail, custom call routing, and telemarketer block. After joining, you simply choose a phone number and wait for a VOIPo adapter to arrive in the mail, which you can use to turn your existing phones into handsets that can be used with their service. The adapter routes all calls through the internet rather than your phone system, giving you full VoIP functionality. In addition to the above-mentioned features, you’ll also get free international calling to more than 40 countries of up to 60 minutes per month.
Many of the best small business VoIP providers feature integration with Zendesk’s popular helpdesk software. However, Zendesk offers a phone solution of its own called Zendesk Talk. For heavy Zendesk users, this solution may be the best, since it is built to work with the Zendesk multichannel ticketing system. If you’re operating a call center or regularly take customer service calls as part of doing business, this one is worth considering. Features include real-time dashboards, call data insights, interactive voice response, and voicemail. You’ll need the Zendesk software to use Talk, which starts at $89 per seat, per month. Once you have that, you can add Talk for free, but that will limit you to one phone number. You’ll get more phone numbers plus features like warm transfer, the ability to set business hours, and text messaging with plans starting at $19 per agent per month.
Phone.com offers both virtual numbers and desk phones, both equipped with the same features. You can purchase new phones or use Phone.com with your existing desk phones and mobile devices. Basic features include custom toll-free and local numbers, text messaging, voicemail to email, and click to call, with all phone setups preconfigured and ready to ring. The basic plan with more than 40 features is $12.99 per month, but for $19.99 per month you’ll get advanced features like automated voicemail to text and premium hold music. But for features like call analytics and HD videoconferencing, you’ll need to upgrade to a $39.99 per month plan.
Like many other business VoIP solutions, Ooma Office advertises its easy setup and flexibility as top features. You can set your desk phones wherever you want and incorporate mobile devices into your call routing. You’ll get unlimited calling in the U.S. and Canada and multiple virtual receptionist options. Ooma Office also provides standard phone features like ring groups, music on hold, separate modes for business and after hours, and call forwarding. The base price of $19.95 for phone service includes one local number and extension and unlimited calling to the U.S., Canada, Mexico, and Puerto Rico. From there, each user extension will be $19.95 per month, with additional monthly fees for additional local and toll-free phone numbers. Basic plans include free ring groups, virtual receptionist service, and a conference bridge.
Flexibility is Dialpad’s promise, including the ability to take calls from a desk phone, laptop, or cell phone. This means you can get up and running without investing in new equipment, although you can also purchase handsets from Dialpad. You can set up all your phones to ring to all of your devices at once or just one at a time. Other features include international numbers, VoiceAI to provide real-time insights into the conversations you’re having, video and audioconferencing, custom call routing, an auto-attendant, and call recording. Standard plans cost $15 per user per month and cover one office with up to three departments with between one and 100 users. However, as you grow, you may need to upgrade to the Pro plan, which costs $25 per user per month and covers up to 10 offices, up to 25 departments, with a three-user minimum.
OnSIP is another of the best small business VoIP providers that promise to only make you pay for the features you use. This can be a cost saver for a company that has very specific communications demands. In fact, you can get a calling plan for free for up to 100 users. This will include web-based voice and video calling, multiparty video, and integration with Slack. However, if you want to make non-web calls, you’ll be on a metered plan, which charges for external calls. OnSIP not only works with your existing phones, but you can also use the app to make and receive calls while you’re on the go. However, if you want features like auto-attendant, ring groups, or dial by name directories, you’ll need to upgrade to a paid plan at $8.95 per user per month.
Digium offers two plan options: on-premise and cloud. The on-premise plan includes all the equipment you need to deploy a VoIP solution for your small business, including appliances and support from its customer service team. You’ll also get the phones you need to get users set up at their desks. For the cloud version, you can run your business off a desk phone and mobile devices simultaneously, accessing the same advanced features you’d have with the on-premise plan. Features include advanced call control, three-way conferencing, and call recording. The cloud plan starts at $12.99 per seat for a metered plan that charges based on call volume, but you can scale up to an unlimited plan at $24.99 per seat. You can also buy your phones through Digium.
If you’re looking for a business VoIP, there are plenty of solutions on the market. Finding the right one can be challenging, but you can narrow down the choices by knowing what’s out there and figuring out what’s important to your business. Budget should be a top consideration, but you should also look at the money you can save by choosing a plan with collaboration tools and chat, which can keep your team interacting, saving time and money.