Small Business VOIP Service: Who Is The Best?

VIOP-300x214In our last article we continued our series on VOIP services, with a look at setting up your small business VOIP.  In today’s article we are going to continue that series, with a look at who is the best VOIP service provider.  So let’s get started!

Our Top Choice For Small Business VOIP: Nextiva

Nextiva offers a 30 day money-back guarantee with no cancellation charges or any other fees. The 30-day guarantee not only applies to their services, but also to the internet enabled phones purchased through them.

nextiva---Mini

The good news for small businesses  is that there are a large number of hosted small business VOIP service providers that offer amazing features and functionality at an incredibly low price. (Hosted VOIP means a phone system that uses your existing internet connection, with no special hardware located at your office.)  You should be able to equip your employees with their own direct dial extension, voicemail, and fax with unlimited local and local distance minutes in the United States  and Canada for around $30 per month per employee (before taxes and regulatory fees that add around 10% the price).

RingCentral and The Small Business VOIP Service Competition

The industry giant in the small business VOIP space is RingCentral. The company has over 350,000 users, which is more than double their next largest competitor. While size doesn’t always mean better (and there are some drawbacks to using RingCentral), it can mean the company is less likely to go out of business or be swallowed by a competitor. If you have major concerns about your business being disrupted by changing phone service vendors, RingCentral has an edge. Competitors to RingCentral include Jive, Vocalocity and Nextiva.

RingCentral offers a 30 day money-back guarantee (21 days on hardware):

ringcentral---Mini

Our Top Choice For Small Business VOIP:

Nextiva is the lowest cost provider of small business VOIP services, has US based customer support and a dedicated team that helps you set-up.

 

RingCentral
2.5 Stars

Nextiva
4 Stars

Jive
3.5 Stars

Vocalocity
3.5 Stars

Basic Pricing For 7
Employees

$209.93 Total
Per Month
Excludes Taxes

$174.65 Total
Per Month
Excludes Taxes

$195.65 Total
Per Month
Excludes Taxes

$189.87 Total
Per Month
Excludes Taxes

Customer Service

Combination of US & Overseas, Dedicated Set-up Person

US Support, Dedicated Onboarding Team

US Support, Dedicated Onboarding Team

US Support, No Dedicated Onboarding Team

Cool Features

Business SMS


Call Continuity

Learn More

Learn More

Learn More

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What did not make it into the table?

Uptime

All the business VOIP IP providers just mentioned guarantee that your service will be up 99.999% of the time, or you will get some money back. They have redundant hosting locations, so if one of their data centers gets hit by a natural disaster, your phone services should not be down for more than a few minutes. There are some scattered reports of these services being down, however, overall they all seem to be very reliable.

Month-To-Month Contracts

None of these providers lock you into contracts. You can switch service providers without penalties. This has two benefits, you don’t have to pay a big sum upfront, and if they provide poor service you’re not locked in.

Hardware

With all the business VOIP providers, you will need to buy a desktop SIP Phone, internet phones for your employees (unless they will be exclusively using their mobile). These phones will cost between $50 and $250 per phone depending on quality and features. However, the phones are not locked to a particular service provider. In other words, this is a one time cost.

Mobile Workforce / Softphone

Your employees that have iPhones or smartphones with Android operating systems, not only can receive calls coming into their work phone number, but can make calls from their phone that appear to be coming from their work number.  They turn their smartphone into a “softphone” (aka a virtual work phone) by downloading an app.

Pricing: How We Evaluated Pricing & Details

While on the surface small business voip providers all appear to provide simple to flat  per user pricing with tiers based on the number of users, the cost of your service can vary greatly depending on what features you want to include.

To compare apples to apples, we asked each business voip provider to give us a quote based on our company having seven employees, each needing to have their own direct dial extension with voicemail. Also, we asked for one call group. An extension or menu option which would ring multiple users at once, such as sales or customer service. All the plans we considered had unlimited local and long distance minutes for the United States and Canada.

vocalocityThe cheapest plan was offered by Nextiva, which came in at $174.65 per month. While several of the business VOIP providers claim that they offer all inclusive pricing, Nextiva was the only one that their basic per user price, $24.95 included everything that I wanted. Visit Website

nextiva logoThe cheapest plan was offered by Nextiva, which came in at $174.65 per month. While several of the business VOIP providers claim that they offer all inclusive pricing, Nextiva was the only one that their basic per user price, $24.95 included everything that I wanted. Visit Website

rc logoThe most expensive plan was offered by RingCentral. However, there are two benefits of buying from RingCental:

1. For those willing to make an annual commitment they offer yearly plans which brings their basic price in line with the other VOIP providers.
2. You get to cancel within one month (two if you ask a salesperson) and get a full refund on the service. Visit Website

 

vocalocityThe second cheapest was offered by Vocalocity at $189.87.  The pricing model for Vocalocity was different than the other small business VOIP providers. Where the other provides offered free efax and call groups as part of their basic product offering, Vocalocity charged a la carte for these services. If you have relatively simple requirements, Vocalocity is one of the cheapest, but gets more expensive as you want more features. Also, the $189.87 pricing includes discounts thrown in by the salesperson. As Vocalocity is probably the smallest firm included in this list, my guess is the salesperson has a fair degree of freedom to cut deals. You might be able to bring the cost much lower. Visit Website

jiveIn the middle of the pack was Jive at $195.65. While they promote that their monthly per user fee is all inclusive, you have to pay $1.75 extra per month for each phone number that can be directly dialed. Visit Website

Bottom line

Each VOIP provider has a different pricing policy. Before you begin, you need to write down exactly what you want and get quotes for the vendor:

  1. Number of Users
  2. Number of Devices That Will Be Connected
  3. Number of Phone Numbers
  4. Number of Call Groups
  5. Use Of The 800 Number. Once you get a quote, don’t be afraid to negotiate to get a lower price.

Best Small Business VOIP For Price: 

Try Nextiva Now!!

Customer Service: Location & Dedicated Account Set-up

There were two areas in which we looked at customer service.

Was the customer service based out of the United States or Overseas?

The only firm which had overseas based support (for customers with under 10 users) was RingCentral. All the other firms had U.S. based customer support during the daytime and a 24 hour emergency number if your phone system was malfunctioning. In case of Vocalocity, both the sales and support teams are based out of Atlanta. Both my business partner and I got a good feeling after talking to Vocalocity.

Did the firm have a dedicated account set-up team?

With the exception of Vocalocity, every firm claims that they have dedicated teams that will provide you with one-on-one attention when initially setting up your phone system. Vocalocity gives live interactive webinars for new clients three times per week. PC Magazine describes that setting up a phone system with Jive is more intuitive than RingCentral. (The articles by Fasmida Rashida are educational regardless of what provider you are considering. Too bad he doesn’t review Nextiva or Vocalocity.)

Best Small Business VOIP for Service and Set-up: 

There were two areas in which we looked at customer service.

Was the customer service based out of the United States or Overseas?

The only firm which had overseas based support (for customers with under 10 users) was RingCentral. All the other firms had U.S. based customer support during the daytime and a 24 hour emergency number if your phone system was malfunctioning. In case of Vocalocity, both the sales and support teams are based out of Atlanta. Both my business partner and I got a good feeling after talking to Vocalocity.

Did the firm have a dedicated account set-up team?

With the exception of Vocalocity, every firm claims that they have dedicated teams that will provide you with one-on-one attention when initially setting up your phone system. Vocalocity gives live interactive webinars for new clients three times per week. PC Magazine describes that setting up a phone system with Jive is more intuitive than RingCentral. (The articles by Fasmida Rashida are educational regardless of what provider you are considering. Too bad he doesn’t review Nextiva or Vocalocity.)

Best Small Business VOIP for Service and Set-up: Jive

Try Jive Now!!

Cool Features

Send Text Messages – RingCentral is the only business VOIP provider that allows you to send text messages using your business phone numbers.

Call Continuity – What happens if the internet in your office goes down? What happens if the power in your office gets shut down? Vocalocity has you covered. Every 20 seconds they check your internet and power. If either is down, they have a number (typically, a mobile number) which they will forward calls to for each extension.

Try Nextiva Now With A 30-Day Money Back Guarantee!

That’s our article for today.  If you have any questions or comments please leave them in the comments section below.

 

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Comments

  1. Mark says

    As a Nextiva customer for the past year, I agree with your views. It’s a great company and I was thorough in my research before selecting them. I shopped around and talked to ever voip service company multiple times before making my decision. While their price of service is competitive and affordable. Nextiva blows it out of the water when it comes to their customer support and help desk. A great company and I’m a happy customer.

  2. says

    Having used other services in the past, I will gladly stick with Nextiva! As mentioned by many others, the support along is in my mind reason number one to go with Nextiva. There is nothing worse than shelling out your hard earned cash for a product, only to find out later that you have been abandoned… Take Microsoft for instance… good luck finding a number for tech support! Once you do find someone, companies like this are so big that getting the right person, I mean someone that actually understands your question and knows how to fix the issue is darn tough! Then you realize all they want to do is sell you stuff… that’s their answer, just keep buying new stuff…Oh and please sign up to give feedback… this way they monitor your problems and figure out the issues that should have been fixed before the premature release of the new software or hardware! No thanks! I have resolved enough of your mistakes by donating my time explaining what is broken! Nextiva does have as any VOIP an occasional dropped call… but no matter what they are there… reachable…knowledgeable… and fix the problem FAST! Prices are as good as it gets for what you get! In my mind they are awesome! I have referred them to customers and suppliers… all are as happy as I am and are saving BIG MONEY… year after year! Try Nextiva first, and save yourself a lot of hassle! not to mention cash money! Good luck if you choose another! I think most of these reviews are fixed… yep someone gets paid to recommend a company and to write a review! I could not believe that Nextiva was not listed number one on every one of these top VOIP Choices! I guess they are busy supporting/training their customers, and not busy paying for the rankings! Myself, I buy and sell lumber, have for 29 years, I am a professional with thousands of direct contacts… I have made it a point to make at least one cold call per day since 1985… The phone is my life-line…the money machine! I need it to be working all day every day as I am dialing for dollars! Thanks to Nextiva, their staff and software, I’m online and efficient!

    • says

      Hi Michael, Good luck with those cold calls! My dad for a few years sold forest products (pine bark and peat moss) to nurseries. He was constantly cold calling and developing new relationships. Like you, his phone was his lifeline.

      The main point you make is that Nextiva has great customer service. On the other hand, the big knock against the largest player in the industry, RingCentral is that their customer services is bad. Definitely, a reason to chose Nextiva.

      Thanks for contributing!

    • says

      Hi SJ, If your self-employed google voice or skype might be a wonderful solutions, we are were thinking about doing an article “Free” VoIP solutions which would focus on them. However, I don’t know how these solution scale for companies that a more than a couple people and if they have the features that a small business might want like, an auto-receptionist or group ringing. Best, Marc

  3. Amy says

    I would definitely opt for Ringcentral when it comes to business. They are big and reliable. At least that’s one of the reason I pick them.

  4. Steve Calder says

    Thank you for an informative article. I found your article because I wish to support US based customer service departments, thus I will not be using Ring Central, despite the raving reviews I’ve received from local business owners here. I am a Nextiva subscriber, but am switching due to ongoing issues around call forwarding and message lights that do not work with consistency, and voicemails that get lost or come into our phones a week late! Nextiva has tried to help, but I could not even grant them an extended 30 days to fix the simple call forwarding issues when other feature issues came up. I signed on with them (mo. to mo.)in Oct. ’13. Their upper and Senior Management where attentive, but even this dialogue did not result in permanent fixes to the simple features I needed to have and where part of the package.
    The phone clarity is amazing, the customer service is attentive, but when there are system resets, your phone features can get changed to something you do not know about or even realize the feature was changed until you’ve lost calls or clients…….
    I’ve had 2 other Voip providers, since 2006. One you know about as above, the other one is a big name too, that just did not have the consistent clarity or good customer service . Unlike the reliability of the old hard wired phones, be prepared for hardware and software issues, changes that happen on the providers side. Note, you will have issues, it is a question of when. When that happens, the price is secondary. More important in keeping a customer, is the vendors’ customer service such as how quickly the issue is fixed and how long the “fix” stays in place. Watch out for those nasty “system upgrades”.
    Thanks again, Marc, for the fine article.

    • says

      Hi Steve, Thanks for the detailed informative post! Getting this feedback from actual users shapes our opinions/reviews. Can you be more descriptive about the call forwarding and message light problems? How often are there system resets? Thanks, Marc

    • says

      Hi Steve,

      Thank you for your feedback regarding your experience with Nextiva’s service. We will have someone from the Office of the CEO reach out to you shortly to discuss your experience.

      Sincerely,
      The Nextiva Team

  5. D M Barlow says

    No thanks on Nextiva. I have had their service since June 2013 and have been sorely disappointed. I have had at least 5 days when the service goes down for hours at a time, the last one being about 8 true hours and 4 business hours. The fax service is worse. They seem to attract spammers who crash their servers sending out spam faxes but in my business I can’t have a fax take 4 hours to arrive. The customer service everyone raves about hasn’t been so great for me. They don’t listen, they want to treat you like an idiot on every call and don’t seem to have any notes in the file to distinguish between a user who understands his own network and can talk about what steps have already been taken to ensure the problem is not local versus the guy who knows nothing and needs help on every step. They charged me more to have the ability to connect with Salesforce and have “softphones” from my computer but then they say afterward in order to have that service you need to buy something from some other 3rd party. I am a first timer moving to VOIP but I am ready to try a new provider because I got to believe life can be better than this. Also the admin panel for their service is not intuitive – you have to search help to understand the simplest of feature processes. My biggest problem though is down time on the phone and fax service. There is a common error on the fax that says the number you have dialed doesn’t detect a fax line. Well that is because if the line you are calling is busy then Nextiva tries back 3 times all within 1.5 minutes and then determines the line to be bad. I asked them to extend those times because it isn’t uncommon for a fax line to be busy for a couple of minutes but they have been either unwilling or unable to make the change.

    • says

      Hi D M Barlow, Thanks for providing that detailed review of your poor Nextiva experience. I hate hearing that people are having problems with the company that we have been recommending. When we review our recommendation for 2014, I can promise you that we will keep in mind the feedback from you and Steve Calder, who also had a bad experience. Thanks for contributing.Best Marc

  6. Bob Tucker says

    I’ve been searching for a VoIP company to replace my business landline and finally decided to go for Nextiva. It’s true that there is a lot of VoIP alternatives out there but Nextiva is the one that surpassed the features I was looking for, like number porting, call forwarding. For me there is no service better than Nextiva for my business.

  7. Roy Wagner says

    Marc, great review article on voip providers!!! We have been with RingCentral for over a year now and I have nothing but great things to say about them. I have heard about offshore support, etc, but when it comes down to the platform, features and pricing, nothing comes close. The SE (Reno) that helped me get my entire company to their solution was amazing. Very knowledgeable and provided great insights on solutions. With over 50 employees now and growing, their solutions is definitely very scalable and my employees have been raving about their SMS and Conferencing features. I definitely would recommend them based on my experience!

    • says

      Hi Roy, Thanks for sharing your experience with Ring Central. I have a small favor to ask. Would you mind posting your review on our RingCentral Review page You can cut and paste your comment. You will just need to add a start rating. Reviews from real users like yourself are extremely useful to those making purchase decisions! THanks, Marc

  8. Jonathan says

    Currently using 8×8. The pricing keeps going up and the iOS app sucks. Any comments about their service as it compares to others.

    • says

      Hi Jonathan, I don’t know as much about 8×8 as I do about companies like Nextiva and RingCentral. I think 8×8 specializes in serving large organizations like schools and hospitals, instead of small businesses. We have had hard time finding 8×8 customer wanting to provide reviews for us (please add your here http://fitsmallbusiness.com/8×8-reviews/ . On the other hand, RingCentral gets great reviews from dozens of customers http://fitsmallbusiness.com/ringcentral-reviews/ . Good Luck, Marc Prosser

        • says

          Hi Brent, I don’t think that we will be updating our VoIP recommendations until near the end of 2014. However, I would certainly be comfortable with you choosing Nextiva or Ring Central. If you go with Nextiva and have any problems, please let me know. I personally know the CEO and will forward any complaints to their management team. Good luck, Marc

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