The Best Small Business Phone Systems and Services in 2018

Whether the business is a startup or one that's existed for years and has already seen great success, the phone system it relies on can make a major impact on everything from data storage to call clarity and customer satisfaction.

Although choosing something that will be affordable should be a priority it's important to know when not to cut corners.

Business phone systems should always be of high quality. But there are several other factors that should be taken into consideration while making this decision.

For instance, would a cloud-based system work best? Will the phones still operate if there is ever a power outage? Is there a maintenance plan and warranty available?

This article will teach even the least tech savvy person how to find a great phone system in 2018. Also, stay tuned for our top picks of business phone systems and services.

Important Things to Consider

When thinking about what type of phone system will work for a small business, there are various factors to consider. The first should look at the type of business that's in need of the phone system.

A call center, for example, is going to have different needs than a therapist's private practice. The therapist might require call forwarding to their cell phone while the call center may need call recording applied to their service.

Regardless of the type of phone system that's selected, there are certain features that should always be considered.

Reliability

How well do the phones work? Do they have to be within a particular distance of the business location?

Some phone systems and services don't function well during thunderstorms. The last thing anyone wants is to conduct business over static and a choppy signal.

In determining a phone system's reliability, you should see what other people are saying about. Read reviews online and also ask the company about return policies and warranties.

That way if it doesn't perform as expected, the risk or loss either isn't significant or doesn't exist.

Pricing

Pricing for business phone systems varies between carriers. The fees might be annual, month-to-month or even per call.

These formulas can become tricky and confusing, so it's important to think them over prior to making a decision.

Contracts and Fine Print

In reading about all the perks and benefits of a new product, it's easy to forget about some of the technical details that are typically found in the fine print of a contract.

These details, however, can make or break a deal. So, be sure to look them over.

Things that should be taken into consideration are:

  • Termination penalties and fees
  • Grace periods for returns and exchanges
  • Maintenance and repair options
  • The contract renewal policy

Don't rush this decision. Compare multiple contracts and choose the one that's the best fit.

Features and Equipment

There are two main types of phone systems for businesses to choose from. There are internet based cloud services with voice over internet protocol (VoIP) landlines.

VoIP systems usually use less equipment and wires since everything is done over an internet connection. While a landline system can require some storage space for equipment, especially if multiple phones and lines are required.

Perks and Extras

In most cases, a business needs more than a basic phone to answer and make calls. There are special features that can help make the system more effective. Keeping everything running more smoothly.

The following should be considered:

  • Call forwarding
  • Voice mailboxes
  • Call recording
  • Translation to text or email
  • Menu for customers to direct their calls
  • Fax
  • Software compatibility (like Google Docs or Salesforce)
  • Storage

These extra features can, of course, make the phone service more expensive. What makes sense for the type of business you're running?

The Best Business Phone Systems and Services

There are so many different ways of communication today that people tend to forget the importance of having reliable phones. But really, 65% of customers prefer to contact businesses by phone.

And why wouldn't they? Good service should be personable and offer speedy resolutions--things that don't come too easily with emails and online chats.

Check out this comprehensive list of 2018's best phone systems and services.

Mitel is Great for Call Centers

Mitel prides itself on being technologically advanced with video calling and instant messaging options in addition to voice calls.

Its systems don't just simplify customer contacts. It is also an excellent option for conference calls and meetings when members are in different states or countries.

These features can also be used on different devices such as tablets, cell phones, and computers.

The Mitel site allows shoppers to choose their service based on the size of the business and the type of business they're operating. Mitel is a one-stop shop as its products include phone services, systems, and apps.

Mitel is so valuable to call centers because of the following features:

Call Routing

When customers call in, their calls will always be routed to the person who can help them the most. The call routing service routes calls based on the service level and skills of the place it's going.

Additionally, it uses the caller's location and identity along with the priority level of the call.

Softphones

With softphones, agents can make calls directly from their computers. They can receive them this way too.

This also enables prerecorded messages or announcements and silent call monitoring and recording.

Dashboard

The dashboard shows what's going on in the call center in real time. It even allows comparisons of historical data and current information.

This gives call center managers a visual aid to use while scheduling agents for shifts. It also let's management in to coach new agents who are still in training. 

Ooma Office for Small Office Settings

Ooma is a great option for very small offices that only require one or two phones. The installation is fairly easy. It takes most people 20 minutes or so to set it up.

One of the best features of Ooma is it works with any type of phone. This includes both basic analog phones and IP phones.

You can simply plug an IP phone into a local area network port. The analog phones are connected with Linx devices, which comes with Ooma at no additional charge.

Ooma comes with some pretty impressive features too:

  • Virtual Receptionist
  • Virtual Extensions
  • Mobile App

Ooma offers a 30-day trial when you purchase their products. And the monthly fee is $19.95 for each user.

Grasshopper is Best for Virtual Calling

Virtual phone systems are used to make phone calls from internet based devices. This will typically be a laptop or tablet.

Grasshopper provides mobility for those who work off-site frequently or are hired for remote services. Since the service is 100% virtual, Grasshopper doesn't require any bulky hardware or wires for it to operate.

For the most part, it's a complex call forwarding system. Grasshopper gives each user a local or toll-free number.

Users will also have extensions. So, when customers call in, their calls will be answered by an automated system.

Then, the call will be transferred to the correct department or individual. At this time, the employee's preferred device, be it a landline, cell phone, or computer will ring and they can take the call as normal.

The full Grasshopper system is managed via an online portal. However, some people prefer the desktop or mobile apps. There is also a scheduling option where employees can choose the dates and times they'd like calls to be forwarded to them.

Grasshopper offers service plans for individuals, partners, and small businesses. The talking time on each plan is unlimited and they don't use contracts.

There is a 30-day money back guarantee with all the plans too.

RingCentral Office When All You Need is a Phone

RingCentral is a simple cloud centered VoIP phone system. It's beloved by business owners and employees because of its ease of use.

When a new business signs up for RingCentral, they are assigned an implementation specialist to make sure their needs are met.

Implementation specialists will:

  • Pinpoint exactly how many phones a business will need
  • Transfer existing phone numbers to the new system
  • Add additional phone lines if needed
  • Assign phone numbers whether they're local, toll-free, or vanity

Setting up a new RingCentral system doesn't require any wiring or fancy equipment. Instead, it simply runs on the business's internet connection. The phones simply need to be plugged into an internet port before they can be used.

The special features that come with RingCentral's service include:

A Call Management System

Call forwarding, recording, screening, and logs are included in this system. In addition to message alerts, answering rules, and hold music.

RingCentral also has an auto-receptionist and multiple IVRs in place.

Voicemail Options

If traditional voicemail isn't enough, the voicemails on this system come in different options. Users can choose to have their voicemails sent to email. Or they can be previewed in a text format.

Conferencing Abilities

Businesses that require support for collaborative sessions will love this RingCentral feature. The system allows video and audio call conferencing.

There are also webinars that can support up to 10,000 listeners and 500 speakers. Then there's Glip. A tool that creates a workspace where team members can communicate, share documents, and assign tasks.

Mobility

The mobile app works with iOS and Android devices. The apps are used to make and accept calls, check voicemails, and participate in conference calls. They can even send and receive faxes and text messages.

Pricing and Discounts

When users sign up for annual plans versus monthly plans, they will receive a 33% discount. The pricing is also lowered for business with 100 or more employees.

8X8 Global Cloud Communications for Small Businesses

It's rare to experience outages while using 8x8. This is because the company has several call carriers and data centers it works with.

Call Carriers

Before a call is made, the system will automatically use the carrier that's performing the best at the time. This guarantees the highest quality possible with each call.

If for any reason a carrier experiences an outage, calls will be redirected to another carrier. The system does this automatically and doesn't require rebooting or any manipulation on the part of the user.

Users hardly ever notice it's happening.

Data Centers

8x8 uses a total of 15 data centers. The centers are located worldwide. So, if there is an outage in one location, the next location is instantly utilized.

Other helpful functions and features are:

Standard Calling

There are over 40 standard calling features in 8x8. Users can forward calls, have conference calls, use call waiting, three-way calling, and listen to voicemails online or via email.

Mobile App

The mobile app can be used on both iOS and Android phones. This allows on the go calls from your business line that can be recorded too.

The mobile app also has faxing functionality, instant messaging, and voicemails.

Collaboration

8x8 allows opportunities to join coworkers in video or audio conference calls and online chats. It also has a feature that shows which coworkers are available and who is away or busy.

Call Center Capabilities

There is a version of 8x8, X8 that was built for call centers. It provides analytics from Salesforce, call quality reporting, and storage for recorded calls.

For additional call center features, 8x8 has other options for plans. They provide real-time monitoring, call routing, IVR, and queued callback.

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Business phone systems aren't one size fits all. The system you use will be determined by the size of your business and its communication needs.

We hope we've helped you cut through the chaos to make a decision that will help your company grow. Follow our site for more advice for your technological needs.

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