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The best VoIP phone services create exceptional customer experiences. And exceptional customer experiences work wonders for your bottom line.
Imagine this: a potential customer calls the sales number listed on your website. Six states away, a personal cell phone rings. Your sales person picks it up, answers a few questions, and closes the sale.
Within a matter of seconds, that potential customer turns into a paying customer rather than being transferred from employee to employee, wasting their time and testing their patience.
With the right VoIP service, you can streamline and automate the customer journey, resulting in more money for less work. Furthermore, these services are easy to set up, easy to use, and most of the leg work happens behind the scenes.
But choosing the right service feels like a daunting task. With countless options out there, how do you decide which one’s right for you?
If you’re not sure how to answer that question, you’re in the right place. In this article, I cover how to choose the right service for your needs, the different types of VoIP services, and my top recommendations.
Let’s dive in!
With countless VoIP service providers to choose from, finding the perfect solution for your business isn’t always easy. To make things easier, I want to share the criteria I considered when making this list and some must-haves regardless of the company you choose.
You can use these to help narrow things down as you go through the process.
Some VoIP phone services work with the hardware you already have, while others require proper installation. In some cases, you may need to buy an adapter or something else to enable the system.
But others are as simple as a mobile app you download on your phone.
So, carefully consider the amount of time and the level of support you have when making a decision. The simpler the system, the easier it is, and the less support you need to get things up and running.
Most VoIP phone service providers charge per user per month.
And while some offer discounts if you have a large team, those prices can quickly add up and get expensive.
So it’s essential to understand how many users you have and how to get the best deal with the features you need at a reasonable price point.
It’s important to consider the phone call capabilities you need because each provider offers different capabilities at different price points.
Do you need automatic call rejection, call forwarding, or caller ID? What about voicemail, voicemail transcription, and hold music?
You may also want to consider other capabilities like:
Make a list of everything you need so you can choose the right provider and the right plan.
Most VoIP providers also offer other forms of communication like SMS messaging, document sharing, online faxing, and video conferencing.
However, they may not all be available on basic plans.
With that said, you may not need all of them, either. So, carefully consider the additional forms of communication you need your team to have.
Your internet, VoIP provider’s uptime, and power source affect the quality of your phone calls.
With reliable, high-speed internet, you probably won’t have any issues. But what happens if the power goes out?
If you use your mobile device, you’re probably fine.
But desk phones aren’t. However, some come with battery backups that may last up to a few hours. So, make sure this is an option if you rent or buy hardware from your VoIP service provider.
Furthermore, some VoIP providers offer network monitoring that lets them switch to wireless backups if wired data links fail. And you should also expect nothing less than 99.99% uptime, as well.
For this type of service, you need to buy an adapter from the service provider and connect it to an existing phone (or a phone they provide).
These services are desktop programs. Skype and Google Talk are two good examples. You have to install the program and connect to the internet to use them.
However, most providers offer cloud-hosted and software-based systems.
Cloud-hosted VoIP, or “virtual private-branch-exchange” (PBX), services are available as well. The only hardware you need is a networking router or switch and the provider handles the rest
This includes mobile VoIP services, too. These mobile apps run on Android and Apple devices through cellular internet or a local Wi-Fi network.
All of the options on this list are a combination of cloud-hosted and software-based, with most offering both types of systems.
If you’re a small business looking for a reliable, no-contract VoIP phone service, Ooma is a great choice. They provide everything you need (i.e. hardware, software, and know-how) so you can start using their services in as little as 15 minutes.
Everything is ready to go straight out of the box. And you can keep your existing phone number or swap it out for a new one — for free.
Ooma offers 35 powerful features, including:
Furthermore, Ooma has an excellent customer service team ready to help you get up and running, navigate snags, and create a seamless experience for your customers.
However, the service is missing more advanced features. But it’s incredibly affordable and accessible for small businesses with a tight budget.
Plus, you don’t have to worry about complicated contracts. Ooma’s pricing is simple and straightforward with two business plans, including:
Ooma Office is suitable for most users. But you can upgrade to the Pro plan if you need a desktop application, call recording, or higher usage limits.
Remote teams face unique challenges. And they need a VoIP provider equipped with the tools and features required to conquer those challenges.
Nextiva is “made for business owners, not IT wizards” and built with remote teams of all sizes in mind. They offer solutions for small businesses, midsize businesses, and large enterprise companies alike.
Plus, their in-house customer service team is ready to help every step of the way.
Nextiva includes a wide variety of VoIP features, including:
Furthermore, you can make and receive business phone calls straight from your desktop, laptop, or mobile device. This service completely replaces an in-office phone system, empowering your remote team to stay connected.
Alternatively, you can use it in conjunction with your current phone system. So, it’s also a great fit for call centers and non-remote teams, as well.
Nextiva offers simple and affordable pricing. Their plans include:
Nextiva boasts an “ultra-high uptime of 99.999%,” with around-the-clock network monitoring and zero outages in 2019. With relatively reliable service, various essential features, and reasonable prices, their service is among the best.
RingCentral is an excellent option for fast-growth businesses. They’re the world’s #1 business communications platform with plans and features for business communications as well as customer support.
Plus, RingCentral offers discounts depending on the size of your team. So, as your team grows (regardless of how fast), your phone service affordably scales to match your needs.
They promise 99.99% uptime, and they maintain countless global data centers. This means you get excellent coverage and phone quality wherever you are on the globe.
Furthermore, installation and setup are a breeze, thanks to RingCentral’s step-by-step installation and intuitive admin panel.
You can set up new users from the admin panel, monitor service quality, and view your analytics all in one centralized place. Plus, you can even access it on the go.
Their services include features like:
RingCentral’s most affordable plan starts at $19.99 per user per month, making them a top contender for affordability.
Their paid plans include:
While their basic plans are suitable for smaller teams, their Premium and Ultimate plans allow teams to create custom-fit solutions, regardless of how fast they grow.
If your team works in the field, works from home, or works from anywhere in the world, Grasshopper is a smart choice.
It’s a mobile (or desktop) app that adds a business line and an integrated phone system to your employee’s phones. So, they don’t need to carry around two phones or be present in the office to message customers and accept business calls.
Plus, you can access and manage your entire phone system with mobile and desktop apps anywhere with an internet connection.
The best part is that Grasshopper integrates seamlessly with the phones you already have.
There’s no need to buy any fancy equipment or go through the hassle of messy and time-consuming installations. It’s as easy as picking a number and a plan, downloading the app, and configuring your settings.
Plus, with Grasshopper, you get access to intuitive, yet powerful, features like:
And while Grasshopper doesn’t automatically enable VoIP calling, you can quickly turn it on for free using the mobile app if you have poor cell service or prefer internet calling instead.
Extensions can forward to any number you want. So, you can operate with three employees using Grasshopper’s solo plan.
This is a breath of fresh air instead of per-user pricing with the other services on this list.
Known for the stability of its network, Verizon provides VoIP business features for medium and large-scale businesses. However, it’s overkill for most small companies and very expensive compared to other options on this list.
Furthermore, it’s most suitable for businesses that need to be available for customer calls, route calls to the right teams/people, or respond quickly to customer requests.
Verizon’s VoIP phone service includes 45 features, including:
You can purchase or rent desk phones through Verizon or purchase a converter to continue using your current equipment.
Furthermore, you get free access to mobile and desktop apps to access or manage your phone system from anywhere in the world. However, Verizon’s services aren’t available everywhere, so you may not be able to use their services.
Verizon business phone plans start at $35 per user per month plus any additional fees, taxes, or equipment charges. However, their pricing is confusing when you start reading the fine print. And you have to commit to a two-year contract, as well.
So, keep that in mind as you’re making your final decisions.
If you’re looking for a basic, affordable VoIP phone service, 8×8 is a smart choice.
Their 8×8 Express Business Phone System plan starts at $12 per user per month (with a free trial). This low pricing makes it the most affordable option on this list.
However, with that low price point comes limited features. The Express plan includes:
And to access their more advanced features, you have to pay between $25 – $45 per user per month. Which… is more expensive than some of the other options listed here.
So I don’t recommend it unless you go with the Express Plan.
My #1 recommendation for most small businesses is Ooma. It’s affordable, reliable, and easy to set up in about 15 minutes. However, if you’re looking for a large-scale solution, Verizon is your best bet.
Furthermore, Nextiva is perfect for remote teams, and Grasshopper is a simple, yet powerful, mobile app for small teams who are frequently out of the office.
If you’re on a tight budget, 8×8 is the cheapest VoIP phone service, starting at $12 per user per month. However, it’s features are limited.
Regardless of the route you go, don’t forget to consider your requirements, budget, and the criteria we talked about as you go through the process of choosing the best VoIP phone service for your business.
Have you used a VoIP service provider in the past? What was your experience like?
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