Monday, October 7, 2019

Best Small Business Phone Services - Small Business Trends

Best Small Business Phone Services - Small Business Trends


Best Small Business Phone Services - Small Business Trends

Posted: 18 Sep 2019 12:00 AM PDT

Can you hear me now? That phrase is one we all utter, most frequently from mobile phones. But when it comes to small business phone services, we sometimes hear it from landlines and VOIP phones.

We have to keep up with voicemail and text messaging.  What we really want is small business phone services to keep up with us, not the other way around.

In this post, we highlight best of class in small business phone services that owners will want to check out. Some of them save time, effort, money or a combination of those. Some say you can't have all three, but you can.

Here are just a few of the many features the following small business phone service providers offer growing companies: voice-over-internet-protocol otherwise known as VOIP, voicemail, call forwarding, 3-way calling, conference calling, web conferencing, call following (no, not stalking), voicemail to text or email, voice transcription, and toll-free numbers.

We've updated this article as of July 2018 to remove some services that are no longer active and added some others.

List: Best Small Business Phone Services

Nextiva is a powerful small business phone system. You can get toll-free numbers and an auto attendant to answer calls 24/7 along with many other features. There's a fantastic app for audio and video calls and chats.  You can also purchase phonesets for a full voice-over-internet-protocol (VOIP) phone system.  Nextiva is really unified communications, bringing voice and other forms of communication together.  For example, voicemails can be sent as an audio file to your email, for ease of checking messages especially when traveling. Feature We Like: its product leadership — Nextiva has a broad feature set and the company keeps expanding it adding business analytics, a CRM platform and more. You also get a dedicated account representative for great service.

Grasshopper became known by positioning itself as the professional, but very hip virtual small business phone service.  Grasshopper is a "virtual phone system" meaning that you can get phone numbers, voicemail, call forwarding, etc. independent of phone hardware. This is great for branding and to make your phone help make your small business presence look big.  Originally a fun startup in the Boston area, the company was purchased by IT giant Citrix back in 2015.  It has 350,000 customers today. No free trial, but offers a 30-day money back guarantee. Feature We Like: Faxes emailed as PDFs.

RingCentral is a full VOIP service aimed at small business. RingCentral started as a bootstrapped startup. After investment by Cisco it completed an IPO in 2013 and is a publicly traded company (NYSE:RNG). In addition to VOIP, RingCentral offers a virtual PBX, voicemail and more.  You can get unlimited phone and fax using an app or via hardware you purchase from RingCentral.  Currently it offers a 15-day free trial for new subscribers. Feature We Like: Flexible answering rules so you can specify hours and days that work for your company and employees.

Phone.com is a VOIP phone service and virtual cloud phone offering.  In addition to having a great domain name, the company keeps its site and offering well organized.  It has one of the easiest-to-read list of features we've seen.  Be careful navigating the pricing table — the default pricing limits the number of minutes per month per plan.  Unlimited minutes are extra, so be sure to check the pricing carefully to avoid surprises, as unlimited minutes jack up the price. No free trial, but a 30-day guarantee. Plans start at $9.99/month paid annually for the entry level plan.  Feature We Like: Click to Call option with buttons for the web or email signature.

Freedom 800 is a virtual phone system in the cloud. This small business phone service has a user-friendly website with instant number activation and a 30-day free trial. Then plans start at $9.95/month for limited minutes.  This service is not as full-featured as some of the others. But if you are a startup looking for a bare bones virtual phone system at low prices, this might be a good place to start. Feature We Like: Availability Scheduling. You can specify the times when you want calls forwarded, or not.

Line2 is a small business phone service formerly known as Toktumi.  It is a virtual phone system you can use with a computer, tablet or mobile phone. The company's website seems to position this service for entrepreneurs who want to quickly add a business phone line to separate their business communications from personal (hence the name "line 2").  With rock bottom prices, and a streamlined feature set, it's ideal for startups, entrepreneurs running side businesses, online entrepreneurs, and workers in the gig economy.  There is a 7-day free trial.  Feature We Like: A widget to get texts directly from people visiting your website — even included in the lowest plan.

Skype is the original "disruptor" that showed the world a different way to stay in touch, founded in 2003. It offers a way to communicate via text, voice and video using a computer. Skype lacks the sophisticated features of a small business phone system. While it is good for making and receiving calls and chat messages, it doesn't have an automated attendant, true voicemail, and other features small businesses need to manage their phone presence.  Today Skype is owned by Microsoft and goes through frequent updates – not always received positively.  Skype is free, but a few features, such as calling to and from mobile or landline phones, require a subscription. Feature We Like:  Skype has 300 million active monthly users (reported in 2016).  Many entrepreneurs and freelancers use Skype.  That means trying to reach someone through Skype for business is relatively easy because chances are they already use it.

Skype small business phone service - list of small business phone service providers

Ooma is a "smart communications platform" for businesses and consumers. A publicly traded company (NYSE:OOMA), it offers small business phone services for $19.95 per user per month currently.  The plan comes with unlimited calling in North America and Puerto Rico.  No contracts are required. Oooma offers VOIP phone and conference hardware which are an additional one-time cost.  Feature We Like:  HD voice quality.

Evoice is a virtual small business phone service that says you can "Add an Extra Phone Line to Your Mobile Phone for Business Calls." This service offers an automated attendant to answer calls, voicemail to text, toll free numbers, music on hold, and call routing (follow me type of feature). It's essentially what you would expect of a virtual phone system. There is a 30-day free trial. Feature We Like: Integrates a live receptionist answering service option for those who need it (extra charge).

Vonage originally was known for its residential consumer offering that disrupted the telecom landline marketplace.  However, Vonage also offers a small business phone service. Vonage is a publicly traded company (NYSE:VG) and according to recent investor presentations, their growth focus seems to be on midsize and enterprise businesses, with less emphasis on small business customers.   Feature We Like: Simultaneous Ring which will simultaneously ring up to 5 other phones to reach you.

Kall8 is a little different from some others on this list of small business phone services because its primary focus is as a toll free number service. It touts itself as a way to direct and track online ad campaigns to toll free numbers.  Along with it, Kall8 also offers basic phone service features such as voicemail and call forwarding. Prices start at $2.00/month per number. Vanity numbers and local numbers cost more.  Add to that a per minute rate of roughly $.06 to .07 per minute. You could easily use this service to tie a Google Ad campaign to a phone number and allow you to track which ad performed best.  Feature We Like: The online tools for tracking.

FreedomVoice has two main offerings:  Cloud Phone (VOIP) and Cloud Number (virtual phone system).  The company says it has 250,000 small business customers.  They offer a 30-day free trial for Cloud Number, then $9.95/month for limited minutes. CloudPhone, which includes a VOIP phone, starts at $29.95 per month. Feature We Like: Nice guided signup on the website for both services – very clear.

8×8 is a cloud business phone system you can use with VOIP phones that 8×8 sells. 8×8 also offers apps so the team can make and receive calls on a desktop computer or mobile device. It offers the standard virtual phone features including voicemail, automated attendant, call forwarding and so on.  8×8 serves small to large businesses, but the focus seems to be larger businesses as it is pricey compared with some others on this list. Prices start at $29.95 per user per month.  Feature We Like: 8×8 Academy, which is a meaty training center.

Ninja Number claims to be the world's first artificial-intelligence powered virtual phone system.  Some of the features are a bit different from competitive offerings so study them carefully.  Plans start at $9.95/month for unlimited minutes.  There's also a "no credit card" free trial. Feature We Like: Offers a conversational interface to walk you through getting set up.  Then the software evaluates your communication patterns and makes recommendations, including telling which calls you need to return.

Ninja Number small business phone services provider

Google Voice. Google seems to have a product for everything, and "virtual phone" is no exception. You get one number for voice, messages, voicemail, call routing. You use Google Voice with a computer, tablet or smartphone.  Google Voice has limited features when compared with other small business phone service providers. It offers value for professionals who use Google products and want to organize voicemail and call records in an inbox interface. Do not mistake it for one of the full-fledged, small business phone services, however. For instance, if you need help you'll have to go to a Google Forum. Feature We Like: Free U.S. based phone number. Voicemail transcription so you can read messages in your inbox.

American Voicemail offers a wide range of voicemail features, but also includes fax receiving and fax-to-email as well as a virtual phone system to manage your company's telephone presence. Has some unusual features, such as a service that lets you send and receive text messages on landlines. Packages start at $8.95 a month, flat rate, with no per minute charges. No free trial but advertises "first month free." Feature We Like: Automated Question and Answer Voicemail.  This feature, which costs additional, asks your callers questions, one at a time, and records their answers. Great for taking surveys or phone orders.

Workeasy is focused on being voicemail for growing businesses.  They also offer a toll-free virtual phone number service. No free trial, starts at $19.95/month. Note that some features that are all-included in the price of other packages (such as auto attendant greeting) have an add-on fee. So compare prices carefully. Feature We Like: Voice talent service – they'll provide a professional to record your voice message for you. [Note:  service appears to be gone.]

Voiceshot positions itself as your virtual receptionist helping to manage your calls. It offers a free trial and rates start at $12/month with limited minutes.  Feature We Like: It has a group texting function (as in text messages/SMS). It also has group outbound calling (think "get out the vote" type messages – love 'em or hate 'em).

CallHippo is one of the small business phone service providers with a distinct international focus. It calls itself an "Intelligent Virtual Phone System." CallHippo does a great job of telling you what you as the user can accomplish with its system (as opposed to simply telling what its technology is or does). Even its live chat starts by saying "Hey, how about setting up your phone system in less than 3 minutes?"  Feature We Like: Focuses on workflow, highlighting the third party apps it integrates with. It sees phone as part of a continuum of customer processes in your company.

Neobits is a reseller of phone systems for the small to midsize business. It offers business phones from well known brands like Panasonic. The company specializes in helping design phone system solutions for specific requirements, especially in the VOIP category. Feature We Like: When you need actual phone hardware to go with your small business phone service providers, this site is a good resource and store.

VirtualPBX offers a hosted PBX service aimed at users who already have VoIP phones or want to use a low-cost VoIP service. They have a free 14-day trial and plans start at $12.99/month for limited minutes. Feature We Like: The website explains VOIP and PBX details really well, so you know what you're getting.

Let us know in the comments if you want to suggest an addition to our list of small business phone services. We'd love to hear about it.  We'll check it out. 

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