TOP 5 Key Phone Systems For Small Business: It isn’t easy being a small business, but modern times have made it that much more difficult. Now you’re not just competing with local businesses, but also big box stores and online retailers. So how do you make sure your small business comes out on top in this new digital age? You can start by using the right tools to get the job done. Key telephone systems are among the tools small businesses need to remain competitive. Let’s take a look at three things you should be thinking about when choosing your key phone system.
TOP 5 Key Phone Systems For Small Business
Small business office phone systems have been around since the telephone, but they have come a long way over the years. As new technologies and trends emerge, so do today’s office phone systems. Before you pick up your next business phone system, let’s explore the Top 5 key features found in business phone systems for small businesses.
Nextiva is a cloud-hosted unified communications system that is a perfect solution for businesses looking to combine their phone system and CRM services into one platform. Nextiva has its own built-in CRM solution that can help both your sales and customer support teams. Most phone systems offer integrations with top CRM software (like Salesforce); Nextiva, which offers those integrations as well, sets itself apart by having proprietary software. With these options, businesses in need of CRM software have a choice between Nextiva’s or a different program.
The built-in CRM offers valuable tools to help both sales and customer service representatives, including contact management, account history, sales pipeline management, case status, workflow automation, and email case routing.
In addition to its CRM functionality, Nextiva offers excellent phone services. It has several valuable features that businesses of all sizes will find valuable. It offers HD voice, auto-attendants, voicemail-to-email, voicemail transcription, call recording, and call groups.
It also has a number of collaboration tools, including audio conferencing, team messaging, and online fax services. Nextiva has built-in video conferencing capable of supporting up to 250 participants. Additionally, Nextiva’s Co space offers a place for colleagues to work with one another. It includes task management and team calendars.
Part of what makes Nextiva such a solid unified communications system is its reliability. The network has data centers located throughout the United States; each data center is monitored 24/7. Having multiple data centers helps ensure continual service. Overall, Nextiva reports a 99.999% uptime. This means that service is typically only down for a few minutes each year.
Nextiva’s business phone system is also extremely secure. Users have the option of using call encryption to protect call privacy. Additionally, Nextiva conducts regular audits to ensure its system isn’t vulnerable to hackers. The company monitors each user’s call history for irregular call activity to protect against fraudulent charges.
Nextiva is available in four service plans that vary in price and included features. Within each plan, the price can fluctuate based on the number of users; whether you commit to 12-, 24-, or 36-month contracts; and if you are willing to prepay for those lengthy contracts. The per-user price drops with the more users you have, the longer-term contract you are willing to sign and if you want to prepay.
Here is a breakdown of the range of costs for each plan:
- Essential: $17.95-$30.95 per user, per month
- Professional: $21.95-$35.95 per user, per month
- Enterprise: $31.95-$45.95 per user, per month
- Ultimate: $52.95-$75.95 per user, per month
RingCentral MVP’s cloud-hosted VoIP unified communications system serves all types of businesses. This system is easy to install and use, and it has a vast array of calling, collaboration, and mobile features. It is available in multiple service plans that work for small, midsize, or large organizations.
The cloud-hosted system requires access to a high-speed DSL, cable, or fiber-optic connection. RingCentral provides an implementation specialist who walks you through each step of the installation process, ensuring that your service works perfectly from the start.
Once it is up and running, RingCentral takes multiple steps to ensure it stays that way. The company recently acquired the technology and engineering teams from Kindite, which develops cryptographic technologies to reduce security risks in cloud-based applications. RingCentral maintains a 99.999% uptime.
What really sets RingCentral apart from competitors is its wide selection of features. Virtual receptionists, hold music, call forwarding, call recording, call screening, call logs, message alerts and answering rules are among the available call management features.
In addition to the calling features, RingCentral’s collaboration tools make it a true unified communications system. It offers a conference bridge that can support calls with up to 1,000 callers and video conferencing services that allow each user to host video meetings, with up to 200 participants depending on your service plan, complete with screen sharing. There is also document sharing, online faxing, and team messaging that includes task assignment tools and calendar sharing.
RingCentral is working to boost its artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities with the acquisition of DeepAffects, a conversational intelligence company. The technology analyzes business conversations to identify meaningful insights. It can identify individual speakers and convert audio to text. The addition of these AI tools to RingCentral will add a lot of value to users.
Starting in the first quarter of 2022, RingCentral MVP users can take advantage of these AI tools. Specifically, they will have access to live transcriptions and auto-generated meeting summaries. The live transcription will automatically transcribe calls, which can be shared with those in attendance and those who were unable to make it. Additionally, meeting summaries, which include a synopsis of the call and video highlights, can also be shared with those who couldn’t attend. These tools will allow participants to focus on the discussion, rather than taking to notes to ensure they don’t miss anything.
Also available in early 2022 will be a whiteboard tool that will allow meeting participants to visually illustrate ideas through drawings, virtual sticky notes, and content annotations.
RingCentral offers both desktop and mobile apps for employees who are regularly on the go. Using the apps, employees can make and receive calls from their business lines.
RingCentral is available in four service plans that vary based on price, included features, and the maximum number of users allowed. All of the plans include unlimited calling in the U.S. and Canada, local or toll-free numbers, unlimited SMS, voicemail-to-email, voicemail-to-text, HD voice, and call reports.
As an add-on service, RingCentral offers RingCentral Webinars. It allows users to host large virtual events. The service can be accessed by hosts, participants, and attendees via the RingCentral platform or directly from a web browser.
The Basic plan supports up to 10 users, while the other three plans can be used by an unlimited number of users. Prices fluctuate depending on the number of users and whether you want to pay annually or month to month. Costs range from $19.99 to $69.99 per user, per month.
Ooma Office is a cloud-hosted business phone system that offers all of the communication tools remote teams need to be productive. It offers robust mobile and desktop apps that allow users to access their business phones from anywhere. With the apps, you can make and receive calls, use click-to-call, set up your configurations, and send messages.
The platform also includes video conferencing services. The video conferencing services are included as part of the Ooma Office Pro plan; there is no additional cost for video conferencing. The service supports up to 25 participants simultaneously, and it supports screen sharing. You can join Ooma video conferences via any web browser or the Ooma desktop app. Having the freedom and functionality to use these tools from outside your office is what makes Ooma such an ideal phone system for businesses with remote teams.
Ooma provides small businesses with the features they will find most valuable, including voicemail, call transfer, call log, call park, music on hold, extension-to-extension calling, and dial-by-name calling. Additionally, a virtual receptionist answers incoming calls, directing callers to the person or department they are trying to reach. Virtual extensions for remote workers, conference calling, and ring groups are some other important features.
For those using Ooma within an office, the system is compatible with both IP and analog phones. With IP phones, all you need to do is plug them into an Ethernet port to use them. There is some additional equipment needed for analog phones. However, analog phones can easily be connected in just a few minutes. All you need to do is plug in the system’s base unit, which is a router that prioritizes voice traffic over other online traffic, and then connect the base unit to a high-speed internet router.
Ooma Office provides good customer service, and its website has valuable resources to help businesses troubleshoot any problems they run into. With this level of support and resources, keeping this business phone system up and running without a full-time IT expert isn’t a problem.
Ooma’s service is available in two plans: Ooma Office and Ooma Office Pro. Ooma Office costs $19.95 per user, per month, while the Office Pro plan costs $24.95 per user, per month. Both plans include unlimited calling in the U.S. and Canada, access to the mobile app, a virtual receptionist, call parking, ring groups, music on hold, extension dialing, voicemail, conference calling, online faxing, and SMS messaging.
The Office Pro plan has several added features, including access to the desktop app and video conferencing services. It also has call recording and voicemail transcription.
Another added feature offered in the Office Pro plan is access to caller analytics which provides users with valuable data on call volume by day of week and time of day. With this information, which can be presented in easily digestible charts and graphs, businesses can make sure they have the right staffing levels to handle call volume when it’s at its peak.
Ooma recently upgraded its video conferencing platform with two new valuable features. The new Meeting Log allows users to track who is attending each video meeting and see how long they were in attendance. In addition, the Remote Control tool allows users to take control of the keyboard and mouse of another participant. This can be helpful when trying to solve an IT issue or when collaborating on a project.
The Ooma Office desktop app now offers a new tool, Caller Info Match, that easily allows users to quickly ascertain details about a customer or contact who is calling them and, vice versa, a contact whom Ooma users are calling. Caller Info Match connects the Ooma platform to a CRM, online search engine, or social network to quickly obtain in-depth caller profiles for both inbound and outbound callers. The feature is only available to Ooma Office Pro users.
If your business requires landlines for things like elevator phones or fire alarm panels, Ooma offers Ooma AirDial. It combines phone service with a T-Mobile data connection in a single device that’s easy to install and manage. Since it doesn’t require any internet connections, this is a good option for businesses that need to abide by regulations for life safety systems.
If you are looking for a phone system that will make your calling experience to the next level, Dialpad could be a fit for you. Layered throughout Dialpad is voice intelligence technology, which provides new insights into calls.
This technology studies your calls. It understands what is being said and by whom. Having AI working in the background can provide valuable benefits to users both during calls and afterward. During calls, Dialpad offers live coaching based on what is being said. For example, based on certain keywords and phrases that the voice intelligence technology detects, it can put you in touch with a sales rep or share tips about how to respond to something a caller said. It also offers sales and customer service reps key details that they might need during a call based on what is discussed.
When calls are over, Dialpad can provide transcripts, which can then be easily fed into CRM systems like Salesforce and HubSpot. Knowing that after-call summaries are being provided allows you to focus on the conversation, rather than trying to simultaneously follow the discussion while taking notes at the same time.
Other aspects of Dialpad are just as impressive. This business phone system works equally as well on mobile devices and computers as it does on IP phones. Features include unlimited calling and SMS messaging, custom voicemail greetings, multilevel auto-attendants, custom routing, contact syncing, ring groups, and hold queues.
Dialpad recently announced that it has rebranded its video conferencing service, which all Dialpad users have access to. Previously known as Uberconference, Dialpad Meetings’ basic plan is included in all Dialpad business phone system plans. It lets users host conferences with up to 10 participants for 45 minutes. An upgraded plan is offered for $15 per user, per month that allows for meetings with up to 100 participants that can last up to five hours.
In addition, each user has access to Dialpad’s video conferencing service, Uberconference. You can host conferences with up to 10 participants for 45 minutes. Businesses looking to expand those limits will need to purchase the Uberconference Business plan, which costs $15 per user, per month.
Dialpad’s phone service, Dialpad Talk, is available in three service plans. The plans vary by price and included features. The Standard plan costs $15 per user, per month, while the Pro plan costs $25 per user, per month. Prices for both plans increase by $5 per user if you pay month to month instead of annually. For pricing on the Enterprise plan, you will need to contact Dialpad directly for a customized quote. Dialpad offers a 14-day free trial to new users.
8×8 offers everything a small business needs in a phone system. This is a cloud-hosted VoIP-unified communications system that doesn’t require expensive PBX hardware or a trained IT staff to set up or maintain. All it needs is high-speed internet access and IP phones. This makes setting up and maintaining the phone system easy for small businesses.
The service is among the most reliable we found. It uses redundant data centers around the world, so service isn’t interrupted if one goes down. 8×8 boasts a 99.999% uptime, which means service is down for just a few minutes each year.
Another impressive aspect of 8×8 is its vast array of calling, collaboration, and mobile tools. It has all of the features small businesses are looking for in a unified communications system, including three-way calling, call forwarding, call waiting, call transferring, online voicemail, automated attendants, ring groups, and caller ID.
The company recently added several new features to its platform. Users can now switch between dark and light modes. (This setting can help prevent eye strain in low-light conditions.) There is also a flip call banner that can be used to seamlessly change devices while in the middle of a call. Other additions include support for multimedia attachments and the ability to decline a call with a preset message.
8×8 offers a conference calling bridge; an employee can host conference calls with up to 50 participants at a time, and its video conferencing service allows each user to host video meetings with up to 50 participants at a time. Internal online chat tools and presence features are also available.
The ability for employees to use their phone systems from outside the office is an important consideration for small businesses. The 8×8 mobile app ensures users have access to their business lines wherever they are. With the app, you can make and receive calls from your business line, as well as make video calls, record calls and check your voicemail.
Other factors that make 8×8 an excellent choice for small businesses are its integrations with numerous popular programs like Google Workspace, Office 365, and Salesforce and the company’s top-notch customer support. The customer service was among the best we encountered during our evaluation of office phone systems for small businesses.
8×8 recently enhanced its Microsoft Teams integration. Specifically, users can now send text and multimedia messages directly from the Teams platform. In addition, while using Teams, you can listen to voicemail messages and log in and out of assigned call queues. All of this extends the integration capabilities 8×8 has with Microsoft Teams, which already allowed users to make and receive 8×8 calls while using Teams.
8×8 is available in several pricing plans. At $12 per user, per month, the Express plan is among the cheapest we found. It offers unlimited calling, as well as video conferencing, team chat, and SMS on the same platform.
The other plans for small businesses, which range from $24 to $57 per user, per month, offer added capabilities, including international calling, CRM integrations, and some contact center tools. If you need full contact center solutions, 8×8 offers several combined plans.