April 27, 2022
12 Critical UCaaS Statistics Small Businesses Must Know
A good unified communications as a service (UCaaS) provider will deliver not only a means for businesses to communicate with customers through telephony, but also a way to collaborate and perform outbound contact on multiple customer touchpoints. However, some businesses are still reluctant to adopt unified communications (UC). Thus, we’ve created this guide to drive home the value of this powerful communications technology. Stand out from the competition and discover ways to improve efficiency within your organization by reading through these top 12 unified communications statistics: UCaaS Supports Work From Home (WFH) Since the pandemic of 2020, more businesses have their employees working from home. Here are some statistics that support this new working environment: 1. 93% of companies agree that collaboration tools are essential for a hybrid work environment (Source: Netscout) Companies with a hybrid work environment became one of the largest adapters to using unified communication and collaboration (UC&C) tools during the pandemic. These tools are essential for communication among team members working from different locations. The same 93% of companies adopted using new UC&C apps and tools in the past 18 months. These apps allow you to communicate as well as improve overall productivity and workflows across teams—regardless of locations and time zones. 2. More than 70% of workers prefer flexible work environments with remote options (Source: Microsoft) About two-thirds of workers enjoy having a flexible work environment, giving them the option to work remotely all or some of the time. Many employees also enjoy going to an office to have in-person time with their teams and colleagues. Over 65% of individuals crave time to interact with team members. With this being said, it’s a good idea for businesses to offer a combination of both work environments to offer employees the best of both worlds. 3. Since 2019, there has been a 44% rise in the use of collaboration tools (Source: Gartner) In 2021, about 80% of workers used collaboration tools to connect with colleagues. This is a 44% increase from two years prior, when only about 50% of workers used these tools. UC Is Cheaper & More Convenient Saving money is important to a business, especially when its bottom line is close to its budget. UC is a cheaper option for most businesses, and here are some stats to support it: 4. UC single-provider ownership has a 56% lower cost than individual vendors (Source: Cisco) When considering the total cost of ownership (TCO), UC solutions present a lower overall cost. This is because a single-solution provider delivers an integrated option that provides various functionalities, including calling, online meetings, and messaging. Whether it’s a DIY system that allows companies to integrate solutions in-house or one that’s ready-to-deploy, single-provider solutions save on costs. This is especially true when it comes to the cost of managed services, staffing, and licensing. 5. Instead of a raise, more than 6% of employees would accept the option to work remotely (Source: GigaOm) Remote work is very attractive to many employees, and many would accept this option instead of getting a raise in pay. When it comes to tech professionals, 37% of these individuals said they would even be willing to take a pay cut of up to 10% to work from home every day. Video Conferencing Provides New Collaboration Opportunities One of the major ways that teams communicate is through video conferencing. This allows individuals to see each other and feel like they are in an in-person meeting with their coworkers. Here are some interesting unified communications statistics about video conferencing: 6. Online meeting duration has increased by 10% every year since the year 2000 (Source: Dialpad) This rise in video conferencing replaces in-person conversations and creates a fast-paced environment that makes meetings more efficient. For most businesses, Mondays are the busiest day for meetings. In fact, 83.13% of people spend about 1/3 of their week attending meetings. Live Chat Opens Up New Customer Touchpoints Live chat is a method for customers to communicate with a business without spending time on hold to talk to an agent. They can also continue with their day as they wait for a response. Here are the stats that support why a business should have live chat as a means of communication: 7. For most customers, live chat is their preferred method of contacting a business (Source: SuperOffice) Customers prefer live chat to communicate with businesses over any other contact channel because of its convenience and ease of use. In fact, 41% of customers expect to find this feature on websites so that they don’t have to spend the time calling the business. Businesses without live chat are essentially not hearing what their customers are saying. Even though this is an important means of communication, only 9% of businesses give customers a live chat option. However, this is expected to change and grow by as much as 87% during the next 12 to 18 months. is a UCaaS provider with live chat, helping customers engage with them more efficiently. If you are looking for a full-featured communication system, check out our RingCentral review to learn if it’s a good fit for your needs. Business SMS Adds Customer Convenience Providers like , , and each have free business SMS, which can be used to reach customers via text. Not only does this allow you to reach customers on a very popular touchpoint, but it also is very convenient for businesses that want to send bulk messaging to hundreds or thousands of customers. Here are a few quick statistics about this form of VoIP/UCaaS-powered communications: 8. Five minutes is the response turnaround time for 58.7% of customers who have been texted by their favorite businesses (Source: Salesmate.io) Texting is also a very effective way to reach out to your customers. With almost 60% responding quickly to text messages, business owners can get things like confirmations done more quickly and reliably. 9. SMS marketing is being used by 39% of businesses (Source: Postscript) Outside of reminders, text marketing is an effective way of creating new opportunities. In addition to reaching new customers, SMS texting even provides opportunities for businesses to upsell services to existing customers after support calls. And customers are 4.5 times more likely to respond to texts. Team Messaging Brings New Collaboration Opportunities Team members should be able to collaborate, even when geographic distances separate them. Team messaging apps are built into the majority of UCaaS platforms and provide a similar experience to business SMS. Still, it’s easier to send things like emotes, file share, and even switch over to video or audio conferencing. Below are a few key team messaging stats to consider: 10. There’s been an increase in the use of team messaging tools by as much as 27% due to the pandemic (Source: Humanyze) With the advent of COVID-19, companies have had to scramble in order to help their employees communicate. A good example of this necessity has been the rise of video conferencing giants like . Team messaging has also seen a major uptick thanks to the rising need to communicate from a distance. Even though the pandemic has started to wane, business has changed forever, with team messaging continuing to be a significant part of business. Standalone collaboration platforms like have reported more than 270 million active users, and their chief competitor, , is also experiencing monumental growth. Additionally, several UCaaS platforms, like and , boast their own proprietary, built-in team messaging apps. 11. Team messaging helps companies retain employees (4.5 times higher than companies with poor communication) (Source: Inc.) A feeling of community is critical for a business to retain its employees. In a world where much of the internal communications is facilitated on screens, it’s important to use the right tools. With team chat apps, colleagues quickly collaborate, assign tasks, and even shoot the breeze, which helps them feel as if they are part of a growing or stable community. There are multiple team chat apps on the market that can easily foster this sense of community among your employees. Many have features like emojis that add a sense of true interpersonal interaction to each conversation. 12. 33% of modern employees want more collaborative workspaces; working with a great team is a major reason for retention (according to 37% of modern workers) (Source: Bit Blog) Unified communications will help your employees feel more like they are at home. About 75% of workers state that teamwork and strong collaboration are key reasons for staying with a company. Additionally, based on research performed by Braidio, 81% of responding employees feel that this kind of collaboration significantly boosts productivity. Additionally, 48% stated that team communication apps are their preferred method of learning while working. Bottom Line With the number of communications options to reach both customers and colleagues on the rise, you can’t afford to ignore UCaaS in 2022 (and the years to come). The technology available in most UCaaS suites is inexpensive—often costing only a few hundred dollars each year to open up multiple communications channels. Still not sure of the advantages? Check out our exhaustive guide on UCaaS to gain a deeper understanding.
April 26, 2022
6 Best Call Center Phones
The best call center phones for small businesses are affordable yet packed with essential features, such as high-definition (HD) audio, programmable keys, and an intuitive user interface. They also offer various call routing options and are compatible with most business phone service providers. These features contribute to a streamlined call center experience, enabling agents to manage calls efficiently. After comparing a host of handheld units, we arrived at the top six call center phones for small businesses: : Best overall call center phone for contact centers handling high volumes of calls : Top call center phone for teams wanting to maximize advanced telephony features, such as 5G connectivity : Ideal option for businesses needing third-party app customizations : Excellent choice for small businesses looking for a feature-rich, entry-level phone : Recommended for teams handling low to moderate call volumes : Best for businesses needing a simple call center phone with little to no learning curve Top Call Center Phones at a Glance See fullscreen table × *Discounts and better sales prices are available when you shop online Grandstream GXP2170: Best Overall Call Center Phone The is an enterprise internet protocol (IP) phone and is one of the best voice-over-internet-protocol (VoIP) phones in the market. This unit specifically supports contact centers handling high volumes of inbound and outbound calls. The GXP2170 comes with 12 line keys and 48 digital, on-screen speed-dial keys, helping agents maximize call control and efficiency. It also stands out for its incredible connectivity speeds, creating an ultimate high-volume experience. Along with its wide range of keys, the GXP2170 offers extreme flexibility to handle six SIP accounts. It benefits agents handling incoming calls on separate lines throughout the day, allowing them to accommodate 12 calls simultaneously. On the downside, this unit is not a perfect fit for call centers that don’t receive much call volume on a daily basis. A better alternative is the , a feature-rich call center phone for low to moderate call volumes. It comes with voicemail support, acoustic clarity technology, and a variety of call handling functions. Grandstream GXP2170 Features 48 digital speed-dial keys: Connect people across your network instantly using the 48 on-screen speed-dial keys. Grandstream designed these keys as customizable fast-dial keys, making them ideal for handling high volumes of calls. Automated provisioning: Grandstream supports various automated provisioning options, such as a zero-configuration solution, to make mass deployments easier. Dual Gigabit ports: Provide the fastest possible connection speed with dual Gigabit ports, integrated with Ethernet ports and built-in Bluetooth for syncing with mobile devices. Yealink T54W: Best for Advanced Telephony Features The is the ideal call center phone for those looking for more advanced functionalities than an entry-level phone, but don’t need all the features of an enterprise-level handset. It comes equipped with recording ability, HD voice technology, multiple connectivities, and an adjustable colored display. Unlike most call center phones, the Yealink T54W offers an efficient call center experience that caters to your personal and business needs. The IP phone functions with Yealink Video Conferencing (VC) Desktop, sharing content from your laptop and making team collaboration much easier. For busy environments, Yealink allows users to turn it into a shared phone system by simply connecting multiple cordless handsets. For those looking for a cheaper alternative but want to remain using the Yealink product line, choose the . The T58A is a smart media phone integrated with Android OS, allowing you to install third-party applications on its system. Yealink T54W Features Acoustic shield: Eliminate background noises and distractions with Yealink’s acoustic shield technology. This feature uses multiple microphones to form a virtual shield between the caller and the speaker. Once enabled, it blocks out sounds outside the shield in order for both parties to hear each other clearly. Wireless transmission: The T54W offers wireless connectivity with its built-in Bluetooth 4.2 for Bluetooth headsets and built-in, dual-band Wi-Fi for 5G Wi-Fi connectivity. This allows you to add multiple handsets and share content from your laptop. Ergonomic display: Get the best viewing and navigation experience with T54W’s large backlit display and LED indicators. It has a fully adjustable display that allows users to change the screen angle based on their needs. Yealink SIP-T58A: Best for Extensive Third-party App Customizations The is a smart media phone based on the Android OS. It supports the installation of third-party apps, such as Zoom and Skype, including a built-in web browser, calendar, and recorder for further customization. Additionally, it comes with a software development kit (SDK) to deeply integrate the phone with other business solutions for a greater user experience. If this unit is too complex for your call center needs, consider the . The D715 is a simple yet intuitive call center phone with the basic features you need for an enriching call experience, such as configurable function keys and HD audio. Yealink SIP-T58A Features Enhanced HD video: Experience crystal-clear video calls with Yealink’s HD video communication technology that makes every conversation clear and focused. Hearing aid compatible handset: Yealink uses the latest version of Optimal HD Voice technology, helping those with hearing loss hear calls more clearly. One-touch operation and control: Enjoy smoother navigation with its seven-inch intuitive and adjustable touchscreen that allows users to manage various telephony features. Grandstream GXP1780: Best Feature-rich, Entry-level Call Center Phone The is a mid-range internet protocol (IP) phone with feature-rich capabilities at an affordable price point. It offers a mid-range capacity that enables small businesses to scale up for a competitive price. It supports eight lines, four SIP accounts, eight dual-color line keys, and 32 digitally programmable speed-dial keys. This call center phone also enables importing and exporting of data with its built-in USB port. For added personalization, the GXP1780 comes with a personalized ringtone and integration with enterprise applications. If you’re looking for more advanced features for a call center phone, such as an LCD touchscreen and built-in third-party apps, choose the . The SIP-T58A is one of the most high-tech call center phones on this list, with its enhanced LCD display and multiple connectivity options. Grandstream GXP1780 Features Five-way audio conferencing: Enable multiple users to connect on the same call for easy audio conferencing. This allows users to dial in to a central conferencing line and speak and hear other people calling on the same line. HD wideband audio: Grandstream delivers HD voice quality through its full-duplex speakerphone and handset. It also supports an electronic hook switch (EHS) compatible Plantronics headsets. Open SIP standard: The GXP1780 runs the open SIP standard, enabling users to connect with any SIP-compliant service provider. This feature offers a great deal of flexibility since it's compatible with a wide range of standards-based equipment. Polycom VVX 311: Best Call Center Phone for Low to Moderate Call Volume The is an entry-level business media phone for call centers handling low to moderate call volumes. It provides six lines, programmable speed-dial keys, and SIP support. Besides its excellent calling experience, the VVX 311 comes with a user-friendly interface and web-based configuration, making the use and maintenance simple and convenient for its users. It also easily integrates with productivity applications, such as Skype and Zoom, for open application platforms. If your call center regularly handles high call volumes, the is the right call center phone for you. The GXP2170 supports contact centers with high volumes of inbound and outbound calls. It has 12 line keys and 48 programmable fast-dial keys to enhance call control. Polycom VVX 311 Features Call handling features: The Polycom VVX 311 comes with a wide range of call handling capabilities, such as call timer, call waiting, call transfer, hold, forwarding, and pickup. Acoustic clarity: Polycom uses acoustic clarity technology to bring a smooth audio experience to voice calls. It enhances interactivity by using acoustic echo cancellation and full-duplex operations. Zero-touch provisioning: Reduce installation and maintenance costs with its zero-touch provisioning capability, making it easy to deploy, administer, upgrade, and maintain. Snom SNO-D715: Best Call Center Phone for Simplicity & Ease of Use The stands out when it comes to simplicity and ease of use. Unlike other flashy phones in this list, this handheld device brings everyday telephony features to call center phones. At only $55.61 per unit, the D715 offers all the basic functionalities of a desktop phone, such as a Gigabit switch, configurable function keys, HD audio, USB port, and an intuitive menu. There’s no learning curve required, so many users will find its deployment fairly easy. One of the huge disadvantages of the D715 is the limited number of programmable keys. If you’re looking for a call center phone with plenty of configurable keys, consider our top-recommended unit, the Grandstream . The GXP2170 is a powerful IP phone with 48 digitally customizable speed-dial keys to help users be more productive and efficient. Snom SNO-D715 Features Advanced remote management: The provisioning capabilities of D715 makes it an ideal choice for large-scale installations and voice-over-internet-protocol (VoIP) deployments. It also gives users access to troubleshooting and maintenance. Programmable keys: The D715 features five programmable keys that provide the flexibility to configure each function key, such as presence indication, speed dial, or busy lamp field (BLF). Sound quality: Polycom supports wideband sound processing to ensure excellent audio quality for its microphone and speakers. Audio features include a comfort noise generator and voice activity detection. How We Evaluated the Best Call Center Phones The best call center phones allow businesses to contact people inside and outside their organization, whether through digital, analog, or IP phones. For this guide, we evaluated six call center phones that offer greater flexibility, scalability, personalization, and cost savings when implementing a business phone system. Learn how we evaluated the best call center phones by clicking on the tabs below: Bottom Line While there are plenty of communication channels that exist today, telephones still play an important role in today’s business environment. According to PR News Wire, nearly 90% of people prefer speaking to a live agent on the phone, which explains why many companies still prefer call center phones when it comes to handling inbound and outbound lines. They also offer vast functionalities, such as voicemail and audio conferencing, all for an affordable price. The earned an overall score of 4.59, making it the top call center phone on our list. It’s competitively priced at $90 to $95 per unit, supports a high volume of calls, and offers maximum connectivity speeds. This powerful enterprise IP phone makes it an ideal choice for small businesses handling high call volumes.
April 25, 2022
7 Best Text Messaging Services for Businesses
The best text messaging service for business automates appointment reminders and mass text marketing campaigns. Most apps also support short message service (SMS) and multimedia messaging service (MMS). However, not all services offer international messaging, and some limit the number of contacts or users. We evaluated texting services based on pricing and features to help small businesses find the best solution according to their needs. Here are the best text messaging services for business: : Best for companies wanting to manage the entire customer journey : Ideal for developers wanting a custom text marketing solution : A good messaging fit for companies targeting international leads : Suitable for teams wanting pay-as-you-go messaging across multiple channels : Best for scaling your local marketing with text messages : Perfect for solopreneurs and small groups needing text and voice services : A top solution for small, service-based account receivables teams Best Business Texting Providers at a Glance See fullscreen table × Podium: Best Business Texting Provider for End-to-End Customer Journey Management *Pricing is based on monthly payments, and you can save 21% with annual billing. Additional fees apply for payment processing. is the only messaging solution that helps you manage the entire customer journey—from marketing to payments and review collection. It’s ideal for companies that rely on text messages to communicate with clients regularly because Podium records all interactions in contact profiles, giving you a unified view of the customer journey. Podium also provides a comprehensive dashboard for review and reputation management. You can turn any text conversation into a video chat to improve your customer support and conversion rates. However, mass marketing texts are limited to 100 contacts on the base plan, and upper tiers may be too pricey for small business owners. If you want a text message service for business marketing, consider an app that offers unlimited contacts like or . Podium Features Payments: Get paid quicker by letting your customers pay you through text. Send a message with a link and the recipient clicks on it to view their bill, make a payment, and receive a confirmation. Podium payments differ from because Podium uses its own processing service, whereas Text Request integrates with third-party processors. Review management: Although you can request reviews via text with other services, Podium is the only platform with a unified review management dashboard. From a single location, you can read new reviews from multiple third-party sites and automate review collection. Contact profiles: See a quicker return on your investment (ROI) by logging all interactions and using customer insights to develop targeted outreach campaigns. Podium tracks contact payment history, conversation notes, review history, survey responses, website browsing history, and video and voice-over-internet-protocol (VoIP) calls. Twilio: Best Text Messaging Service for Business Developers *Twilio pricing is based on the type of message, destination, and your recipient’s carrier. Additional fees may apply for T-Mobile, AT&T, Verizon, and U.S. Cellular networks. If you’re looking for a custom text messaging solution and want to use your existing applications, look at . It has programmable messaging and conversation APIs, allowing you to add text capabilities to nearly any program, including your mobile apps. Twilio also offers APIs for omnichannel communications, including call tracking and webchat. Although Twilio is the least expensive solution on our list, it does require some coding skills. If you don’t have a developer on your team, you may want to consider an out-of-the-box text messaging service like or , as both support international texting. Twilio Features APIs: Add text messaging to your applications using programmable messaging and conversation APIs. It lets you send and receive SMS, MMS, and WhatsApp messages. You can see your delivery status with the REST (REpresentational State Transfer) API. Plus, Twilio provides many code samples, so you can learn how to add appointment reminders and mass alerts. Omnichannel capabilities: Build relationships across multiple channels with Twilio. It supports chat-based channels for your website and mobile iOS and Android apps. A free API key to connect your team to WhatsApp is also available. Global reach: Communicate with customers and leads worldwide. Twilio offers more than 65,000 prefixes for local, national, and toll-free numbers. The advanced opt-in and opt-out features let you add rules to account for international languages and regulations. TextMagic: Best for International Messaging *Prices per outbound text vary by the recipient’s country, and virtual numbers outside the U.S. have different rates. Build relationships with an international customer base with . It supports the highest number of countries worldwide (more than 200) compared to over 180 with Twilio. TextMagic also offers virtual phone numbers in more than 20 countries, with prices ranging from $4 to $35.40 per number, per month. Add numbers to a blocklist to reduce spam-related expenses and use your analytics to monitor delivery rates. While TextMagic stands out for its international reach, the service charges more per text and phone number than other providers. It also requires prepayment, whereas other text services offer subscription plans or bill you monthly for usage. If you deliver a high volume of text messages internationally, is less expensive and offers similar features if you have some coding experience. TextMagic Features Text message reports: Use live delivery reports to track message status in real time and leverage various analytics to ensure your ROI. Automatically send monthly reports to your email and export data to a comma-separated value (CSV) or Excel file. List segmentation: Create lists for certain campaigns, locations, or other customer demographics to improve your targeting efforts. List segmentation makes sending bulk messages to an unlimited number of contacts in different categories easier. SMS surveys: TextMagic provides a predefined template and survey flow tool, making it simple to customize your polls and questionnaires. The survey results show up on your TextMagic dashboard, giving you access to recipient responses and survey performance data. ClickSend: Best Business Texting Provider for Pay-as-you-go Multichannel Services is a multichannel service offering pay-as-you-go and post-paid plans for SMS, MMS, voice calling, email, and fax. It’s a good fit for companies that want to run their marketing campaign from a single application and only pay for usage. ClickSend offers many features, including delivery reports, bulk contact uploads, and automatic opt-out management. However, if you want to send messages over 1,224 characters, consider , as it supports 1,600 MMS characters. Or for international texting, is an excellent solution as it supports up to 918 characters, and you can message people in more than 200 countries. ClickSend Features Keywords: Unlike Textedly, ClickSend doesn’t limit the number of tracked keywords. You can create numerous campaigns and set rules that send an auto-response based on a keyword. Each campaign can have up to five auto-replies. Guaranteed delivery: ClickSend is the only platform that doesn’t charge for undelivered messages and offers a 100% uptime service level agreement (SLA). It supplies an online SMS gateway to view delivery status and offers APIs for customization. Multichannel options: With ClickSend, you don’t need to deploy multiple services to handle marketing tasks. ClickSend offers pre- and post-paid options for online activities like email and text and custom postcard printing and mailing. Textedly: Most Scalable Text Message Service for Businesses *Pricing is based on monthly billing. Prepay annually and receive 20% more messages per month. is an affordable solution for companies sending a high volume of text messages within the U.S. It also offers the most scalable subscription plans, with per text rates as low as $0.014 on upper tiers. The monthly plans include more than 25 features and a toll-free phone number. In comparison, the potentially cheaper rates from and don’t provide a dedicated phone number. Plus, a text credit only covers one text segment or 160 characters, whereas a Textedly message can be up to 300 characters. However, Textedly doesn’t offer international texting. If you want to expand globally, consider , as it supports more locations than any other text messaging service. Textedly Features SMS surveys and polls: It can be challenging to keep up with customers as your business grows. Textedly’s built-in poll and survey tools help you measure customer sentiment, test market demand for new products, and increase engagement. Integrations: Textedly integrates with Zapier and several CRMs, allowing you to connect your favorite tools like Salesforce, Slack, and Pipedrive. It also works on Instagram. Your followers can get in touch by tapping on the “text us” link in your profile. Mass group texting: Unlike , your contact list is unlimited, and you can bulk upload all leads who’ve opted in to your text marketing messages. Preschedule messages for any date and time using the built-in calendar. Salesmsg: Best Business Texting Provider for Text & VoIP Services If most of your customers contact you via text message, you may not want or need a separate phone line. lets you use your texting app to make and receive calls over the internet without adding a new service. This unique feature includes call recording and works on a desktop, tablet, or cell phone. As your company grows or call volume increases, you may need to switch to another solution. Calls cost one credit per minute and add up quickly, whereas the best business phone systems include unlimited calling and texting. In addition, there are less expensive options if you send thousands of messages per month, such as or . Salesmsg Features VoIP calling: Use Salesmsg to call your clients or accept incoming calls without switching apps. Enable inbound and outgoing automatic call recording on any phone and take advantage of other VoIP features, such as call logs. Smart broadcasting: Advanced features help you improve your text marketing campaigns by getting your messages to the right people at the right time. You can filter recipients by date, name, tag, or email, and use the scheduling tool to plan campaigns. During and after your promotion, you can view insights and measure the success of your campaign. Integrations: Connect your Microsoft, Google, or customer relationship management (CRM) calendar to view appointment availability and schedule service calls from your app. CRM integrations automatically sync your contacts and update client information, so you don’t have to enter it twice. Salesmsg integrates with HubSpot, Pipedrive, and Zapier. Text Request: Best Business Texting Provider for Small Accounts Receivable Teams *Text Request also offers high-volume plans and a package for political campaigns. Text Request helps your small billing and collections department request, remind, and accept payments all through text. Its straightforward user interface and multi-user management tools make it easy to delegate tasks to team members. In addition, you can manage your contact lists based on billing cycles or identify those behind on their payment. Unlike Podium, you won’t pay separate processing fees to Text Request. Simply connect your texting app to your existing payment processing service to keep your current rates. Although Text Request provides many features, it doesn’t support international texting. If you want to send marketing messages worldwide, consider a provider like ClickSend. Text Request Features Text-to-pay: Text Request is an affordable alternative to Podium. It works with more than 200 payment processing providers, so your current provider is likely on the list. Plus, you can add convenience fees, reference numbers, and confirmation notices. Team productivity: Increase your small team’s productivity with Text Request. It timestamps messages and shows the profile picture of the employee who sent the message. Text Request also alerts your staff if someone else is in the process of replying to a text. Automation: Text Request offers automation tools to free up your small group’s time. It automatically sends out messages, and also supports auto-replies, keyword responses, and greetings to those who call your number instead of texting it. While it lacks VoIP services like Salesmsg offers, the automated voice messaging directs callers to the correct phone number. How We Evaluated the Best Business Texting Providers The best text messaging service for business offers various payment options, including pay-as-you-go and monthly subscriptions. The texting solutions also provide different capabilities, such as text-to-pay and review collection. We compared the top texting apps based on general and advanced features, pricing, and ease of use. Learn how we evaluated the best text message service for business by clicking on the tabs below: Bottom Line Choose the best text message service for business by understanding how you want to use the application and finding a solution that fits your budget. While some services focus on SMS marketing, others focus on payment collection, customer surveys, and review management. Ensure a solid return on investment (ROI) by identifying your use cases and picking the right system for your needs. If you need a full customer journey and multiple ways to stay in touch with customers, try . It’s an all-in-one tool that provides billing, reviews, and marketing dashboards. However, if you have a local business and want to focus on payment collection, is an excellent alternative.
April 21, 2022
6 Best Join.me Alternatives
Join.me is a simplified virtual conferencing platform for online meetings and team collaboration. While it’s a go-to option for budget-conscious businesses, LogMeIn is no longer offering a freemium version of Join.me after being absorbed by GoTo Meeting’s platform. For this article, we determined the best Join.me alternatives that are equally competitively priced, as easy to use, or offer more extensive video conferencing features. : Best overall Join.me alternative for businesses wanting an equivalent feature-rich and free video conferencing plan : Ideal option for businesses looking for more advanced analytics tools across video, messaging, and devices : Top choice for businesses that are existing users of Office 365 solutions : Best for businesses wanting to stay in the same ecosystem of LogMeIn products : Great for organizations looking for all-in-one video conferencing and webinar software substitution : Ideal option for businesses needing a basic combined solution for video and audio conferencing Join.me & Best Alternatives at a Glance See fullscreen table × Zoom: Best Overall Join.me Alternative is the best overall Join.me alternative for businesses looking for a free video meeting app with extensive conferencing tools, such as host controls, multishare, and unlimited group meetings. It appeals to budget-conscious small businesses and solopreneurs because its free plan allows users to host unlimited group meetings for up to 100 participants. What’s more, its first-level paid tier starts at only $14.99 per user, per month. Zoom has a wide variety of collaboration tools, such as screen sharing, co-annotation, breakout rooms, and polling. With its robust video conferencing features, Zoom is the best option for small business owners looking for standalone virtual meeting software. For this and other key features, head over to our Zoom review for a more in-depth look at the provider. On the downside, Zoom only offers 1GB of cloud recording for meetings for its Business Plan. Meanwhile, Join.me allows unlimited cloud recording for Business and Enterprise plan. If you’re looking for a Join.me alternative that enables users to record video meetings without limits, check out . With GoTo Meeting, there’s no storage limit for recordings to allow you to share your meetings locally or in the cloud. Zoom Pricing at a Glance* Basic: Free for up to 100-participant capacity and up to 40 minutes in length, unlimited group meetings, screen sharing, breakout rooms, virtual background, and group chat Pro: $14.99 per user, per month with a minimum of nine licenses, video meetings with 100-participant capacity and up to 30 hours in length, 1GB recording storage, polling, streaming, and usage reporting Business: $19.99 per user, per month with a minimum of 10 licenses, video meetings for up to 300 participants, admin portal, recording transcripts, brandings, and single sign-on (SSO) Enterprise: $19.99 per user, per month with a minimum of 50 licenses, video meetings for up to 500 to 1,000 participants, return on investment (ROI) tracking, product roadmap discussions, and bundled discounts *Rates displayed are based on monthly subscriptions. Annual billing is also available. Zoom Features Breakout rooms: Split your meetings in up to 50 separate sessions, whether automatically or manually. Zoom allows participants to choose their preferred breakout sessions and enable hosts to switch between sessions. Usage reports: Zoom’s Reports section is a useful tool that provides admins with various statistics to review how an organization is utilizing Zoom. Usage reports provide a list of participants and minutes of the meetings you have hosted. Cost-host and alternate host: Share hosting privileges with another meeting participant and allow them to manage the admin side of the meeting, such as closed captioning, livestreaming, and ending the meeting. RingCentral MVP: Best Join.me Alternative With Advanced Analytics Tools is a full-featured communications platform that is listed as one of our best business phone systems. Aside from its video conferencing capabilities, RingCentral stands out for its real-time analytics and reporting that offers actionable data and valuable insights based on usage and trends. It offers a dedicated interface for monitoring all calls, users, and meetings, including call quality parameters and scores. While RingCentral offers feature-rich plans, it lacks team collaboration tools, such as whiteboard, keyboard, and mouse sharing. Since Join.me is part of the GoTo family, it has expanded its feature packages by including more collaboration features, such as co-organizer and meeting lock. Wondering if RIngCentral is a good fit for your business? Read our full-fledged RingCentral review for more info. For those looking for a video conferencing app with extensive conferencing tools, look no further than . Zoom is an industry leader in the video conferencing market, loaded with robust features such as desktop and application sharing, polling, and branding. RingCentral MVP Pricing at a Glance* RingCentral Video Pro: Free for unlimited meetings with up to 100 participants, 10 hours of cloud recording stored for seven days, closed captioning, and desktop and application sharing RingCentral Video Pro+: $11.99 per user, per month for unlimited meetings with up to 200 participants, 100 hours of cloud recording stored for one year, advanced analytics, and developer APIs *Pricing displayed is based on annual billing for one to 99 users. Monthly billing is also available. RingCentral Pro requires two to 100 participants. RingCentral MVP Features Advanced analytics: Get full visibility into your video meetings through real-time alerts, dashboards, and usage reports. This enables admins to identify performance issues and ensure everyone is functioning at their best. Call switching: Switch between devices during a video meeting without disrupting your call. No need to hang up and rejoin from another device. Moderator controls: Meeting hosts get a suite of controls, such as the ability to disable cameras, mute attendees, and take control of breakout rooms for group activities. Microsoft Teams: Best Join.me Alternative for Users of Office 365 Products is a business collaboration software with robust video conferencing tools, such as recordings, chat, live captions, and customized backgrounds. It is also an obvious choice for companies relying on Office 365 products, such as Word, Excel, and Outlook. Using Teams replaces collaboration tools, such as Slack, to centralize your online workspace for video meetings, instant messaging, and project management. The main drawback of Microsoft Teams is the 30-hour limit duration for hosting meetings. Join.me, on the other hand, enables users to host as many meetings as they like without worrying about the time limit. Still, Teams is a powerhouse when it comes to features. For a better understanding, take a look our Microsoft Teams review. If you’re looking for a video conferencing app that offers unlimited meetings with no time limits, choose GoTo Meeting. With , you don’t have to worry about maximum meeting durations since it allows you to host video conferences for as long as you want. Microsoft Teams Pricing at a Glance* Microsoft Teams: Free for 60-minute meetings with up to 100 participants, 5GB of file storage, unlimited chat, file sharing, polling, screen sharing, and noise suppression Microsoft Teams Essentials: $4 per user, per month for 30-hour meetings with up to 300 participants, 10GB of file storage, and 24/7 phone and web support Microsoft 365 Business Basic: $6 per user, per month for meeting records with transcripts, breakout rooms, 1TB of file storage, and third-party integrations Microsoft 365 Business Standard: $12.50 per user, per month for webinar hosting, reporting tools, attendee registration, and desktop version of Office apps. *Pricing is based on annual billing. After a one-month trial for Microsoft 365 Business Basic and Standard, users will be charged the applicable subscription fees. Microsoft Teams Features Together mode: Make meetings more engaging by putting everyone’s video feed onto one shared virtual background. Aside from fun visuals, this feature makes everyone look like they’re sitting in a single room. Speaker coach: Microsoft Teams uses artificial intelligence (AI) to provide a personalized meeting coach and boost your confidence when presenting in a meeting. It will notify a user if they are interrupting someone, guide them on their pace, and remind them to check in with the audience. Live captions: Communicate seamlessly with your global team by turning on live captions during video conferences. When enabled, Microsoft Teams allows you to choose up to 35 languages for its inline translation. GoTo Meeting: Best for Businesses Wanting to Continuously Use LogMeIn Products is a virtual meeting platform and is also a part of LogMeIn’s GoTo Suite. This video conferencing software is a direct alternative for businesses that want to continue using Join.me but need more collaboration features. As a LogMeIn product, it is worth noting that GoTo Meeting is getting a large share of interest from the company. LogMeIn is no longer offering a freemium plan of Join.me. With the paid versions, many users will appreciate GoTo Meeting because of the variety of communication tools. These include unlimited cloud recording, browser-based meetings, and enhanced admin controls. Read more about these tools in our GoTo Meeting review. One downside of GoTo Meeting is the lack of a free plan for solopreneurs or small businesses on a tight budget. is a standout choice if you’re looking for a video conferencing app with a free version without sacrificing the collaboration tools they depend on. Some noteworthy features include file sharing, unlimited meetings, and cloud captioning. GoTo Meeting Pricing at a Glance* Professional: $12 per user, per month for 150 video participants, screen sharing, hand raising, breakout rooms, dial-in conference line, and personal meeting room Business: $16 per user, per month for 250 video participants, unlimited cloud recording, transcription, smart assistant, note taking, keyboard and mouse sharing, and meeting lock Enterprise: Pricing is customized for 3,000 video participants, volume discounts, custom onboarding, and customer success manager *GoTo Meeting fees are billed annually. No monthly pricing is available. GoTo Meeting Features Commuter mode: Join and host meetings wherever you are without worrying about distractions, cost of cellular data, and network reliability. The commuter mode saves up to 90% of data usage and maintains crystal-clear conversations in unstable networks. Smart assistant: Transcribe your recorded meetings and worry less about taking notes. Use the search bar to search for keywords and key content. Drawing tools: Annotation options are available for GoTo Meeting users to communicate their points during presentations. Drawing tools include a pen, highlighter tool, and laser pointer. ClickMeeting: Best for Hosting Webinars & Training Sessions While Join.me focuses on team meetings, is a video conferencing application for a wide variety of online events, such as training sessions, product demos, and online courses. It enables users to facilitate polls for exams, display educational materials, and even monetize their webinars by connecting their PayPal and PayU accounts. One disadvantage of ClickMeeting is the inability to organize simultaneous events by subscribing to any of its paid plans. This means you have to purchase an add-on to host more than one online session. If you’re looking for a video conferencing app that allows you to host concurrent meetings, choose . It allows licensed users on Business, Education, and Enterprise accounts to host up to two meetings at the same time. ClickMeeting Pricing at a Glance* Live: $25 per user, per month for up to three multi-users, six hours of recording storage, 1GB file storage, toll-free numbers, and paid webinars integrated with PayPal Automated: $40 per month for 10 hours of recording storage, 2GB file storage, unlimited automated webinars, auto-streaming, auto-publish, and certificate of attendance Enterprise: Custom pricing for custom branding, account manager, livestreaming services, and white label *Fees are based on annual billing for 10 to 25 users. Monthly billing is available. ClickMeeting Features Automated webinars: Put your online events on auto-pilot with the automated webinar feature. Change chat settings before the webinar starts to modify interactions with attendees. Edu Mode: Turning on this feature will ensure privacy and distraction-free online classes. The attendees will only see their instructor while you’ll be able to monitor their work and maintain eye contact. Custom branding: Use this feature to give your webinars and online events a more professional look. From preloaded templates, call-to-action buttons, and brand colors, these tools will help your audiences recognize your brand at first glance. Webex Meetings: Best for Combining Video & Call Solutions is a business software for video conferencing, cloud calling, and webinars. What makes it stand out from other providers is the bundle plan it offers for video meetings and cloud calling. Webex Meetings provides users with the option to choose whether they want to combine meeting and calling features for their communications stack. While many Join.me users appreciate its platform for its ease of use, it is still lacking when it comes to advanced video conferencing features, such as live transcriptions and file sharing. Fortunately, Webex Meetings combines all of these features, including a simple and intuitive user interface. Read more about Webex's features in our Webex review. While Webex offers a variety of plans for business users, it doesn’t offer complete annual options for all of its subscriptions. is a better alternative if you’re looking for different pricing plans and volume discounts for your video conferencing needs. Webex Meetings Pricing at a Glance* Webex Suite-Basic: Free for 50-minute video meetings with up to 100 participants, calendar integration, screen sharing, virtual background, and meeting recordings Webex Meet: $13.50 per user, per month for 24-hour video meetings with up to 200 participants, recording transcriptions, alternative host, and file transfer during meetings Webex Call: $17 per user, per month for 50-minute call meetings with up to 100 participants, hand raising, polling, mobile screen sharing, chat, and notes Webex Suite-Business: $25 per user, per month for a combination of Webex Meet and Call plan packages Webex Enterprise: Custom pricing for a customized premium plan *Pricing for Webex Meet is based on annual billing. Monthly billing is only available for the rest of the plans. Webex Meetings Features Noise removal: Webex uses speech enhancement and advanced noise removal technology to separate noise from human speech in any language. Gesture recognition: Gesture controls enable users to use reactions without saying a word or selecting an icon from the Reactions menu. Automatic transcription: When enabled, Webex automatically transcribes the audio for all recorded meetings, including webinars and events. How We Evaluated the Best Join.me Alternatives offers a simplified video conferencing platform, including a basic set of features such as screen sharing, recording, and in-meeting chat. However, Join.me competitors provide a more interesting suite of collaboration tools, AI-powered features, and popular business solutions. We analyzed the capabilities and pricing of each platform to identify the best Join.me alternatives. Here's a breakdown of how we measured each provider: Bottom Line is a great option for users looking for a no-frills approach to video conferencing. However, you have to consider alternatives to accommodate the growing needs of your business in terms of communication and collaboration. Fortunately, there are a host of video meeting solutions available for different budgets and use cases. came out as the top Join.me alternative with an overall score of 4.67. Its robust free plan and feature-rich video conferencing platform cater to a variety of small business needs looking to scale up their communication efforts. Sign up for Zoom’s free plan to explore its features and determine whether it fits your small business needs.
April 21, 2022
VoIP vs Landline? Which Works Best for Your Business
Phone technology continues to evolve and businesses now can take advantage of more flexible and affordable voice-over-internet-protocol (VoIP) services instead of relying on traditional copper lines. However, landline systems are a more reliable option in some areas. We’ll discuss the benefits of VoIP vs landline services to help you determine which one is the best fit for your needs, priorities, and budget. We compared these two systems based on voice quality and various features to find the top advantages of using one over the other. Here’s how they stack up: VoIP: Best for small to mid-sized businesses (SMBs) wanting a low-cost, feature-rich alternative to landline services Landline: Best for companies lacking access to reliable high-speed internet services or facing frequent power outages VoIP vs Landline at a Glance VoIP vs Landline for Business: Considerations to Compare Most customers want to reach your company by phone, and Microsoft finds that 58% will stop doing business with a brand due to poor customer service. The best business phone systems enhance communication and support your customer experience objectives. In most cases, VoIP provides more features and flexibility at a lower cost than landlines. However, the public switched telephone network (PSTN) is reliable for locations without high-speed internet access. Choose the best option for your business by considering how your team will use the phone system compared to your budget and must-have features. Best for Cost-effectiveness: VoIP Is VoIP cheaper than a landline? Based on our comparison, it is. VoIP services work nationally, whereas telecom carriers vary by region. VoIP is competitively priced, and there are options for nearly any budget. Some areas of the U.S. only have one or two landline companies to choose from, and it's tough even to find mentions of business landlines on telecom websites. Your initial investment is minimal with VoIP, as you can use existing devices like cell phones and computers to make and receive calls. Since VoIP is cloud-hosted, you won’t pay installation and setup fees for on-site infrastructure. Plus, it only takes a few minutes to install a VoIP system. Many telecom carriers charge an installation fee per phone line, and your office may require new wiring and phone jacks. Landlines only work with analog devices, so you’ll need to purchase and configure office phones. If you want more than a couple of phone lines, your initial costs will increase substantially. Higher line capacity requires an on-premise public branch exchange (PBX) system. Also, consider your ongoing VoIP vs landline cost comparison expenses, such as per-minute fees. Both VoIP and landline services provide metered and unlimited, nationwide calling plans. But many VoIP subscriptions go a step further, offering unmetered calling to Canada, Mexico, or Puerto Rico. Providers like and offer unlimited calling to dozens of international locations. Best for Call Quality: VoIP Humans naturally hear a wide range of sound frequencies, from 20 Hz to 20,000 Hz. High-definition (HD) VoIP audio uses wideband technology. It has a broader frequency spectrum than landlines and supports 30 Hz to 7,000 Hz. Landlines use a narrowband technology, meaning it has a narrow frequency range. The voice quality range is 300Hz to 3,400 Hz. VoIP services' higher clarity and audio range make for more natural conversations. It improves speech intelligibility and makes it easier to hear your caller in crowded spaces. Wideband frequencies make VoIP ideal for conference calls, successfully capturing several voices at once and suppressing background noise. However, this landline vs VoIP debate isn't cut and dried. Plain old telephone service (POTS) has reliable audio quality because your calls run through underground copper wires and aren't dependent on your internet. VoIP quality is less consistent if your network slows during peak calling times. Find out if your internet speeds support high-quality voice calls by taking the test below. Best for Call Handling & Management Features: VoIP VoIP outperforms landlines because it offers many call handling and management features, such as auto-attendants and interactive voice response (IVR) systems. You can automatically route calls based on the time of day or let callers make a menu selection to speak to sales or billing. Optimizing your call handling methods decreases wait times and improves customer satisfaction. According to the Customer Experience (CX) Transformation Benchmark survey, the main source of customer dissatisfaction is waiting too long for an agent to pick up. For companies with high call volumes, ring groups and call queues offered by VoIP providers like move callers to the right person quicker. So, even minor improvements to your call flow enhance caller experiences. With a traditional phone system, a human receptionist must handle these duties, or you’ll need to upgrade to a pricier on-premise PBX. Both landlines and VoIP offer voicemail. However, digital phone services provide voicemail-to-text or voicemail-to-email. Plus, you can read voicemail transcriptions in your mobile or desktop app. Best for Mobility: VoIP Hands down, VoIP is the best solution for mobility because it provides nationwide coverage and may also offer global solutions. If you decide to move your headquarters, your services won't be disrupted. Simply update your address in the online portal for continuous coverage anywhere with internet access. Landlines are a bit more complicated. The largest telephone companies may work in large cities nationally, but smaller regions rely on local solutions. You may not be able to use the same phone company if you move out of its service area and will have to transfer your number to a new provider. In addition, landline installation requires an on-site visit. Seventy-four percent of employees use a mobile app for making work calls. Thus, flexible VoIP services improves your team’s satisfaction at work. VoIP supports employee mobility, giving them the freedom to answer calls from their preferred devices. Mobile and desktop apps turn personal cell phones, computers, and tablets into business communication devices. VoIP features like call flip even let you switch devices mid-call without missing a beat. Landline service requires a desktop or cordless phone, and you can’t make calls from your computer or a mobile softphone app. Best for Advanced Features: VoIP Telzio reports that 47% of small to mid-sized businesses use SMS to communicate with their customers. Internet-based phone service is your best option for advanced capabilities, especially if you want text messaging or conferencing tools. Providers like and offer business SMS messaging on entry-tier plans. You can text from devices equipped with softphone apps or even use an internet protocol (IP) phone with texting capabilities like some offered by Avaya and Cisco. Text from a landline or analog desk phone is not possible because copper phone lines only transmit voice. Likewise, if your team wants to host audio calls with more than two other people or they frequently use video services, VoIP has the advantage. RingCentral supports up to 1,000 audio attendees, whereas a landline generally has three-way calling. You may be able to add an analog conference bridge for additional capacity, but it's impossible to host a video conference on a landline. Lastly, VoIP systems integrate with your cloud-based tools, including calendars and customer relationship management (CRM) programs. These integrations allow you to schedule meetings from your calendar and view customer details on your screen before picking up the phone. Since 66% of customers feel treated like a number, personalizing your greeting and approach can go a long way toward building better relationships. Best for Scalability: VoIP VoIP is the easiest solution for scaling your business down or up. Simply add them from your online portal if you need more lines to handle higher holiday call volume. As your business expands, you can connect new locations and staff across the globe. The installation of additional landlines at your business is resource-intensive. Carriers have to connect your services physically, and you may need internal wiring and jacks. Telecom carriers offer two- and four-line systems, but you'll need an on-premise PBX system that can be cost-prohibitive for higher capacity. In addition, it’s much easier to scale your phone features with VoIP. Many providers use a tiered pricing model, so you can start with an affordable base package but switch to subscriptions with advanced features at any time. Higher-tier VoIP plans increase your monthly price but aren’t resource-intensive like scaling landline systems. Best for Collaboration: VoIP VoIP is the clear winner for collaboration because it provides a hub for employees to gather, interact, and work in real time. It unifies several tools on one platform, including instant messaging and video meetings. Seamlessly switch channels by turning a chat conversation into a video or audio call with one click. Collaboration features support teamwork and, increasingly, are critical to workplaces. Gartner reports that almost 80% of employees used collaboration tools for work in 2021, up from just over half of workers in 2019. Workers also relied more heavily on real-time mobile messaging tools and cloud storage or content sharing, used by 80% and 74% of 2021 respondents, respectively. Many providers also offer advanced collaboration tools designed to support your hybrid workforce. For instance, you can automate team reminders and invite an unlimited number of guests to collaborate using the Cospace app. , on the other hand, offers Team Huddle, a persistent voice and chat room. Explore more features in our RingCentral review. Landlines simply can’t compete on this front. Sure, you can buzz a co-worker’s line or see which lines are in use from your desk phone. However, analog systems focus on voice communications, so you’ll need to use separate platforms and tools for real-time chat, document sharing, and video conferencing. Best for Emergency Services: Landline The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) requires 911 as a standard feature on digital and analog lines. However, business landline phone services provide accurate, reliable connectivity to emergency assistance. Analog phones are hard-wired to a specific location, so 911 operators have your exact address. If there’s a power or internet outage, your phone lines will still work. Basic or enhanced 911 (E911) services are included with many VoIP services, but the scope of service may differ by device and location. In most cases, you’re responsible for keeping your physical address updated in your admin console. If you’re using a softphone app on your mobile phone, the 911 call typically goes through your wireless carrier. It’s best to ask your VoIP provider how they handle 911 calls and what data they provide emergency responders. Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) Are there any other alternatives a business can consider? If you don’t need a full-featured VoIP or landline system for your company, check out virtual phone number services. This system provides a new business number but forwards all calls to an existing phone line, such as your home or cellular number. is a well-known virtual phone number provider, offering five phone lines and unlimited employee extensions for a flat rate of $80 per month with annual billing. Do analog phones work with VoIP? Analog phones and devices like fax machines won’t work with VoIP unless you use an analog telephone adaptor (ATA) or VoIP gateway. Hardware pricing starts at around $40, and you can choose solutions for single or multiline networks. Need help connecting your analog phones to VoIP? Check out our guide to the best analog telephone adapters. Can VoIP replace a landline? Yes. Business phone systems like and easily replace your landline. Users access services over private or public Wi-Fi and don’t need cellular or landline services. However, virtual phone services like forward calls to an existing number. So, in this case, virtual systems can only replace your landline if you have a cellular phone or home number to forward calls to. Bottom Line When it comes to VoIP vs landline for business services, VoIP is the best option for most companies. It's flexible and affordable, and you can set it up in minutes. There's also no shortage of providers offering free trials. Give our top pick for VoIP a trial run by signing up for .
April 13, 2022
How to Use VoIP Fax Functionality With RingCentral
Voice-over-internet-protocol (VoIP) fax uses the internet to send and receive documents. With a business phone service like RingCentral, you can transmit fax over VoIP networks in just five easy steps. You simply need to choose the recipient, select a cover page template if you need one, upload the file you want to send, and set the schedule for the fax transmission. In this article, we’ll explain the steps using Fax. We’ll also discuss the reasons VoIP faxing is an ideal technology investment for small businesses—where faxing is a necessary practice. 1. Open the Faxing Software Log in to your account via web browser or desktop app. In the dashboard, there are two buttons to choose from when sending your fax via RingCentral. The first option is to click the plus sign “+” in the left navigation tab right where it says Fax. Another option is to click the “+” sign in the upper right corner and choose “Send a new fax.” Whichever option you pick, the same “New fax” window will appear. The dashboard will show you the list of recent faxes you have sent and received, including the failed attempts. 2. Choose the Recipient Your virtual fax provider needs the contact details of the person you wish to send the fax to. The “New fax” window will ask you to enter the recipient's fax number or contact number. If you’re sending the fax to a person within your organization, type the recipient’s name in the text field. also allows sending a fax to multiple numbers, whether internally or externally. 3. Select a Cover Page Template Most online faxing services come with the option of including a cover page for your VoIP faxes. This feature applies whether you’re sending a confidential file or want to create a more formal fax document. Under the recipient text field, click the drop-down button to see the cover page templates. You may choose from various options, including Ancient, Birthday, Blank, Classic, Confidential, Formal, and Urgent. To get a preview of what it looks like, click the “eye” symbol. RingCentral also offers an optional feature called cover page note, allowing users to leave a message to the recipient. 4. Upload the File You Wish to Send Upload or scan the documents you wish to scan if they are not already on your computer. allows you to send multiple documents at a time and attach files from cloud storage services, such as Box, Dropbox, and Google Drive. If you’re connecting your RingCentral account to these services for the first time, you have to log in to your account to directly upload your cloud files. Choose your source and select the file you want to fax. For local files, click on the “Attach file” button, then choose the file you want to send. The maximum file size should be 50MB. 5. Schedule Your Faxes Below the Attach file field, you will find a button for setting the schedule of when you want to deliver your fax. Clicking this button will allow you to set the due date and time to send the file. Otherwise, click the “Send Now” button to send the message right away. Benefits of VoIP Faxing VoIP with fax capability offers advanced faxing functionalities compared to using traditional fax machines. It offers mobility, security, and cost-saving solutions for small business owners who want to maximize the convenience of virtual fax technology. Here are the common advantages of VoIP faxing: Reduced Network Complexity VoIP faxing offers unified network connectivity by leveraging existing local and wide area networks, so you don’t need to pay for a separate analog network. By taking advantage of your existing internet protocol (IP) infrastructure, you avoid all the complications of faxing over dedicated phone lines. Since you’re sending and receiving faxes virtually, it is possible to handle multiple incoming faxes at the same time. The faxing service is hosted in a resilient environment, so the service will remain functioning regardless of network circumstances, such as an unstable internet connection. Lower Equipment Costs Maintaining a fax machine incurs additional overhead costs, such as paying for the machine itself, ink cartridges, paper, phone lines, repair, and maintenance. Switching to a VoIP fax solution eliminates all the costs attached to using fax lines. Although VoIP faxing isn’t free, it offers considerable savings since you don’t have the equipment to purchase and maintain. Enhanced Speed & Productivity Paper jams and busy tones are one of the common hassles caused by clunky fax machines. VoIP faxing cuts out redundant steps and enables users to send faxes virtually over the web. This further enhances work efficiency by managing faxes straight from devices and eliminating the hours spent fixing a fax machine. Transmit Faxes From a Range of Devices Through internet faxing, it’s easy to fax anywhere in the world without a fax machine near you as long as you have an internet connection and a software-based fax service. Here are different ways to send and receive a fax: Web browser Email app Desktop app Business phone mobile app that supports VoIP fax Microsoft applications (e.g., Microsoft Word and Microsoft Outlook integration) Improved Security Features Many VoIP fax providers like have built-in encryption to protect your files during and after transmission. They also come with custom cover sheets to keep the first page of your document hidden from your coworkers passing by the fax machine. It also stores incoming faxes with a password-protected online account. Blocking spam faxes is also possible by specifying text or email values for certain fax notifications. Space-friendly Document Management Maintaining a traditional fax machine takes up much-needed desk space, especially in a small office setup. With VoIP fax, it’s easy to get rid of that old fax machine and unused ink cartridges. Also, most VoIP fax providers offer different data storage capacities to archive faxes. Some even allow storing virtual faxes over the cloud. As a result, there’s less printing of hard copies, making your business more eco-friendly. VoIP Fax Costs VoIP with fax capability is a standard feature in today’s business phone services. However, it involves small additional costs that include a specified amount of pages on top of the monthly subscription. Depending on your provider, the faxing feature may come as part of the feature package, or you may have to purchase fax bundles per month. offers bundled solutions starting at $17.99 per user, per month for 1,500 free fax pages. The bundle includes one local fax number, cloud integration, web and phone support, and the ability to send and receive faxes via desktop, email, or mobile app. Compared to the costs of operating a dedicated faxing device, a software-based faxing solution offers significant savings since you don’t have to pay for additional equipment. Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) Can I use an online fax service for free? Yes. Some virtual fax providers, such as and , allow sending of faxes for free for a limited number of pages. However, note that free faxing services include a logo on the faxed pages for ad purposes. You may also try online fax providers that offer a free trial version. Is VoIP fax a great fit for growing businesses? Yes. As your business grows, your faxing needs will evolve as well. This means you need to invest in a VoIP fax solution that easily scales to accommodate more users. Look for a VoIP provider, such as , that allows you to add and remove users from the faxing system. Some even allow you to share a single account with multiple users for bigger savings. Can I use my fax machine to fax over VoIP? Yes. A device called T.38 gateway acts as a “converter” for the traditional fax machine. The gateway translates the fax machine’s signal into an internet-based protocol to start sending and receiving faxes in real time. Bottom Line The benefits of VoIP faxing functionalities go far beyond streamlined virtual faxing. It offers security, speed, efficiency, and convenience for your business, all at an affordable price. To maximize the benefits of an online fax solution, try Fax. Plans start at $17.99 per user, per month and include a local number and cloud integration. If you want to learn more about this provider, check out our RingCentral review.
April 11, 2022
25 Useful Slash Commands in Microsoft Teams to Boost Your Productivity
Microsoft Teams offers unique slash commands designed to save users’ time when executing common tasks like finding posts quickly, changing status, and connecting with teams. These specific keys, such as /chat, /call, /saved, /calendar, /join, and /goto, enable you to maximize this platform's features. However, note that this functionality is only accessible on its desktop and web apps—not on its mobile app. Continue reading below to learn the most useful Microsoft Teams commands available: 1. Slash Commands When Connecting With Teammates Since the main purpose of Microsoft Teams is to help teammates connect and socialize, it offers dedicated slash commands for chat and call functions. *This feature is only available to 1:1 chat messaging and doesn’t apply to group chats. 2. Slash Commands to Find Posts Quickly Although Microsoft Teams come with its own search bar, using the slash command helps you specify your search preferences for certain posts. *This command only works if you are actually tagged. It won’t find posts if someone wrote your name without tagging you. 3. Slash Commands When Changing Your Status Microsoft Teams enables users to display the status of their availability to their teammates. There’s no need to set up their availability on their profile settings because changing your status is easy with the slash command. *You will still get messages when this is enabled, but you won’t get a pop-up notification. 4. Slash Commands to Boost Productivity Microsoft Teams offers multiple collaboration features to enhance speed and efficiency. With slash commands, it’s easy to create files, jot down personal notes, and even test your call quality. Here are the most common command shortcuts to get things done quickly: *This only works for your personal wiki and doesn’t work on teams or channels. 5. Slash Commands to Get to Know Your Teammates Microsoft Teams offers a group of slash commands dedicated to getting to know your teammates and what they do. These commands also provide insights into where they fit into the organizational chart and their recent activities in Teams. How to Work Efficiently Using Slash Commands As a unified communications solution, offers a host of slash commands for enhancing speed and productivity. Since there are plenty of existing shortcuts in this platform, it is recommended that users use the search bar and type in the forward slash “/” to see the available list of commands. Select the command you want, then press Enter, and Microsoft Teams will handle the rest. Also, commands in Microsoft Teams shouldn’t be confused with keyboard shortcuts. Slash commands are for performing common tasks in Teams, while keyboard shortcuts are key combinations that focus on the overall navigation of the platform. For example, the slash command /chat is used to send a quick message to a teammate. On the other hand, the keyboard shortcut Ctrl + Shift + Spacebar is used for viewing the sharing toolbar. Slash commands are only available in the desktop and web app, which means it’s not supported in its mobile version. You may use these two options to access all the supported commands. Slash commands are available to all users of Microsoft Teams, but if a specific command isn’t working, one possible reason is that your company disabled the feature. Frequently Asked Questions How do I know if there are new commands available in Microsoft Teams? In the command box, type “/” to open the command list and see the list of available commands. Microsoft Teams is updating its command library frequently, so always check the menu for updates. Do Microsoft Teams have custom slash commands? No. Microsoft Teams offers app customization, but it doesn’t allow customization of slash commands. Are Microsoft Team users required to remember all slash commands? No. There’s no need to remember all the slash commands in Microsoft Teams. Microsoft Teams designed slash commands in a way that they’re easy to remember. If you forget these commands, type the forward slash “/” into the search bar, and a long list of all available slash commands will show up. Bottom Line Slash commands offer an efficient and productive way to get the most out of your experience. Whether you’re working remotely or onsite, Microsoft Teams provides commands to perform all of your tasks with extreme ease. As they work on future updates, we’re looking forward to more command shortcuts added to the list. If you think Microsoft Teams doesn’t fit your collaboration needs, check out our guide on the best Microsoft Teams alternatives. We provided an in-depth discussion of the most suitable alternatives for businesses needing virtual collaboration tools but don’t prefer Microsoft 365 products.
April 11, 2022
6 Best Five9 Alternatives & Competitors
The best Five9 alternatives enhance call center operations by providing advanced features, such as prebuilt integrations and omnichannel routing options. The platforms range from voice-over-internet-protocol (VoIP) systems with call center capabilities to contact center as a service (CCaaS) offerings with quality, workforce, and performance management tools. We evaluated the top Five9 competitors based on voice and omnichannel features while looking at overall costs for various use cases: : Best overall for companies wanting built-in help desk software and omnichannel features : A top pick for businesses and call centers with U.S.-based teams and customers : A scalable solution for global business and workforce expansion : Recommended for organizations wanting unlimited international calling : Budget-friendly software with intelligence tools for small teams : A great option for businesses with high call volumes Five9 & Alternatives at a Glance See fullscreen table × Freshdesk: Best Overall Five9 Alternative With Built-in Help Desk Software , formerly Freshcaller, is an excellent solution for customer service teams wanting built-in support desk tools. It offers scalable multichannel capabilities, affordable pricing, and feature-rich plans. You can create tickets and monitor interactions while updating your self-service knowledge bases. Solopreneurs and small groups can use the free version to support customers through Twitter and email. Upper-tier packages empower agents and customers with Freddy AI, so you can develop bots to support customers around the clock and assist agents during calls. However, only omnichannel subscriptions include VoIP phone features, like call recording and an interactive voice response (IVR) system. Also, Freshdesk doesn’t provide unlimited domestic calling like other Five9 alternatives. If you’re already using ticketing software and want unmetered calling, consider , as it integrates with popular help desk software, including Zendesk and ServiceNow. Freshdesk Pricing at a Glance Support Desk Free: It’s free for an unlimited number of agents, and features include email ticketing, knowledge bases, embeddable contact forms, Twitter integration, and analytic dashboards Growth: $18 per user, per month for shared inboxes, agent productivity tools, advanced Facebook and Twitter integrations, API access, and customer relationship management (CRM) integrations Pro: $59 per user, per month for customizable customer satisfaction score (CSAT) surveys, WhatsApp integrations, multilingual tickets and knowledge bases, and advanced reports Enterprise: $95 per user, per month for change management tools and artificial intelligence (AI) bots with 5,000 sessions per month Omnichannel Growth: $35 per user, per month for 2,000 incoming call minutes, unlimited concurrent calls and call queues, call recording, email tickets, web messaging, and Twitter and Facebook integrations Pro: $71 per user, per month for 3,000 incoming call minutes, real-time call summaries, IVRs, IVR CSAT surveys, co-browsing, chat transcripts, call monitoring, and multilingual support Enterprise: $119 per user, per month for service-level monitoring, abandoned call metrics, approval workflows, speech-based IVR, and email bots *Freshdesk pricing is based on monthly payments. Select annual billing to save $3 to $20 per agent, per month. Freshdesk Features Freddy AI: Increase agent productivity while satisfying customers with smart assistant AI tools. Build bots to automatically respond to emails and social media messages or recommend agent responses. Self-service: Decrease your call center costs by offering your customers self-service tools. Freshdesk provides a self-service portal for frequently asked questions (FAQs) and lets you turn a community forum topic into a help desk ticket. Call routing: Configure a single-level, multilevel, or speech-enabled IVR system. Like and , Freshdesk Omnichannel has multilingual support. You can also route callers according to time zone-based schedules. Nextiva: Best Five9 Alternative for U.S.-based Teams & Customers is one of the best business phone systems for U.S.-based teams, and it’s the only Five9 competitor offering free professional greetings for auto-attendant greetings. Upper-tier VoIP plans include call recording, voice analytics, and sales pipeline management. Nextiva also provides VoIP call center software and introduced omnichannel contact center subscriptions in 2021. Contact center services integrate with Nextiva’s business phone software and provide intelligent virtual agents, self-service IVR, workforce management (WFM), and workforce optimization (WFO) tools. Nextiva’s VoIP call center solutions consist of two plans with skills-based routing, an IVR, and call recording. Unlike RingCentral, Nextiva doesn’t include business phone numbers and services with its contact center plans. Nor can you buy global phone numbers or use Nextiva service outside of the U.S. and some parts of Canada. If your team works worldwide or you want unmetered calling, consider or , as both offer contact center solutions for building a global presence. Nextiva Pricing at a Glance Business Communications* Essential: $30.95 per user, per month for unlimited one-to-one voice and video calling, an auto-attendant, unmetered internet fax, 1,500 toll-free minutes, and team messaging Professional: $35.95 per user, per month for a multilevel auto-attendant, short message service (SMS), 250 call pops, customer relationship manager (CRM) integrations, 3,000 toll-free minutes, and video conferencing with 250 participants Enterprise: $45.95 per user, per month for enterprise-level integrations, call and video recording, voice analytics, unlimited call pops, and 12,500 toll-free minutes Ultimate: $75.95 per user, per month mobile-friendly customer survey tools, including survey landing pages, analytics, and short links *Nextiva pricing is based on one to four users with monthly billing. Annual and volume-based discounts are available. Contact Center Nextiva Contact Center plans require a custom quote and don't include VoIP phone service: Core: Call recording, web browser and mobile apps Premium: Chat, email, SMS, and QM features Optimum: Enterprise-level QM and workforce management tools Ultimate: Includes a complete workflow automation suite VoIP Call Center Solutions Pro: Starting at $50 per user, per month for unlimited call queues, call recording, and intelligent automatic call distribution (ACD) Enterprise: Starting at $100 per user, per month for advanced queue management Nextiva Features Set up wizards: Use the NextOS setup wizard to configure call groups, auto-attendants, and call flows. The call center wizard lets you configure one or more basic, standard, or premium call center locations. Intelligent routing and agents: Reduce agent workloads and the average time to resolution with self-service tools and bots. Intelligent virtual agents (IVAs) collect customer data before your agents pick up the phone, and the IVR system lets callers use voice or keypad inputs to choose from menu options. Nextiva Cospace: Nextiva’s Cospace app provides spaces for projects, teams, or departments. Users can share files and links, chat as a group or one-to-one, and participate in audio and video conference calls. RingCentral: Best Five9 Alternative for Scaling a Global Workforce is a scalable VoIP phone system with business and contact center plans. As your company expands, you can add international direct inward dial (DID) and virtual numbers in more than 100 countries and support a global workforce with multilingual applications. It differs from because RingCentral supplies unlimited calling with contact center packages, whereas Nextiva requires a separate VoIP subscription. However, RingCentral doesn’t offer unlimited calling to international locations. If you’re paying too much for calling globally, check out . Like RingCentral, 8x8 supports a global workforce with multilingual tools and has international virtual and DID numbers. Explore differences between these providers in our RingCentral vs 8x8 comparison. RingCentral Pricing at a Glance RingCentral MVP* Essentials: $29.99 per user, per month for up to 20 people, unlimited minutes, business SMS, team messaging, visual voicemail, and document sharing Standard: $37.99 per user, per month for unlimited internet fax and audio conferencing for up to 1,000 people, multilevel auto-attendant, and video conferencing with up to 100 participants Premium: $44.99 per user, per month for video meetings with 200 people, hot desking, automatic call recording, real-time analytics, and call monitoring Ultimate: $59.99 per user, per month for endpoint alerts, device status reports, and unlimited cloud storage *RingCentral MVP pricing is based on two to 20 users with monthly billing. Prepay annually to save up to 33%. RingCentral Contact Center RingCentral Contact Center packages require a custom quote: Essentials: Free domestic calling, ACD with skills-based routing, more than 90 real-time reports, over 300 APIs, and basic call recording Standard: Advanced voice recording and more than 30 digital channels for omnichannel routing Premium: Screen recording and quality management tools Ultimate: Performance management and WFM tools RingCentral Features Global customer and employee tools: RingCentral uses artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) to analyze customer intent and recognize more than 72 languages. International agents can set their preferred language settings to view the mobile app and online account in their local language. Omnichannel routing: Like , RingCentral Contact Center works across more than 30 digital channels, including live chat on your website, Facebook Messenger, and SMS. Mobile software development kits (SDKs) ensure your company can communicate across current and emerging digital channels. Performance management: Use analytics to identify customer needs and gamify the agent experience. Dashboards include data from several sources, such as your CRM. In addition, you can award reps with badges and prizes for completing challenges. 8x8: Best Five9 Alternative for Unlimited International Calling We named as the best service for VoIP international calling because it’s the only alternative to Five9 offering unlimited calls to 48 countries. The X-Series plans provide similar feature sets found with , , and but add unmetered calling, making it an excellent option for saving money with higher global call volumes. 8x8 also helps your sales teams reach local and international customers faster, thanks to its predictive, progressive, and preview auto-dialers. You’ll pay an additional fee to add this feature to RingCentral or services. Unlike RingCentral and Dialpad, 8x8 doesn’t support outbound international texting. It locks social media integrations behind X7 ($110 per user, per month) and X8 ($140 per user, per month) plans. In contrast, Omnichannel plans include Twitter and Facebook integrations and start at $35 per user, per month. 8x8 Pricing at a Glance* Business Communications Express: $15 per user, per month for up to 10 people for unlimited calling in the U.S. and Canada, auto-attendant, music on hold, video conferencing with 100 people, team messaging, and visual voicemail X2: $32 per user, per month for unlimited calling to 14 countries, CRM and help desk integrations, call queues, and a multilevel auto-attendant X4: $57 per user, per month for supervisor analytics, unmetered calling to 48 countries, call monitor, whisper, and barge Contact Center X6: $85 per user, per month for skills-based call routing, customer experience journey mapping, IVR, post-call surveys, and queued and web callbacks X7: $110 per user, per month for omnichannel capabilities for social media and email customer support and co-browsing X8: $140 per user, per month for quality management (QM) tools, speech and text analytics, and screen recording *8x8 X-Series plans are based on monthly billing. Prepay annually to save up to 25%. 8x8 Features Auto-dialers: Improve sales campaign performance using preview, predictive, and progressive dialing modes. These tools check with Do Not Call (DNC) lists before calling and automatically display contextual customer information to agents. Quality management (QM): Provide consistent customer service by monitoring 8x8’s QM tools. It streamlines the coaching process by allowing supervisors to search and sort interactions to find opportunities and view team and individual progress in real time. Multichannel communications: 8x8 Contact Center lets you translate chat conversations in real time and route social media interactions to the right agent. Your staff can co-browse during voice and chat conversations. Also, 8x8 supports dynamic email queues that route customers according to agent skills, priority, and schedules. Dialpad: Best Five9 Alternative for Budget-friendly Voice Intelligence Tools If you have a small business and require services for less than 100 users, is an excellent call center solution. Unlike other Five9 competitors, Dialpad supplies key automation and artificial intelligence (AI) features on its base plan for $15 per user, per month with annual billing. You’ll pay more than double for comparable , , and subscriptions with AI capabilities. These AI-driven tools, called Voice Intelligence (VI), reduce agent after-call work by generating summaries and action lists from conversations. They also give supervisors access to real-time insights about how customers feel during interactions and assist agents by providing additional information related to spoken phrases or keywords. Contact center plans include 24/7 customer support and integrate with ServiceNow, Zendesk, and Service Cloud. They also support up to 500 callers in a queue compared to 525 with Nextiva Contact Center subscriptions. However, Dialpad lacks an auto-dialer and limits ring groups to 25 (unless you have 100 or more users). 8x8 provides three types of auto-dialers and unlimited ring groups. Dialpad Pricing at a Glance Business Communications* Standard: $20 per user, per month for unlimited calling and SMS, voicemail transcription, multilevel auto-attendants, speech coaching, and three ring groups Pro: $30 per user, per month for a minimum of three users for international phone numbers and texting, CRM integrations, 25 ring groups, hold queues, and APIs Enterprise: Request a quote for a minimum of 100 licenses for unlimited ring groups, single sign-on (SSO) integrations, and extensions *Dialpad prices are based on monthly payments. Choose annual billing to save $5 per user, per month. Contact Center Dialpad’s pricing for its contact center plans is customized: Pro: A three-license minimum for unlimited SMS, call monitoring, help desk integrations, automatic call recording, and 25 hold queues Enterprise: A 100-license minimum for a 100% uptime service level agreement (SLA) and custom dashboards Dialpad Features Customer sentiment tracking: Although Dialpad lacks CSAT surveys offered by Five9 competitors like , it analyzes live calls so supervisors can view sentiment in real time and step in when needed. Customer sentiment tracking uses AI to identify keywords and phrases and categorize them positively or negatively. Speech coaching and real-time assist: Help agents in real time with Dialpad’s speech coaching tools. These activate when an agent talks too fast or speaks unclearly. You can also create real-time assist (RTA) cards to recommend actions related to a specific topic. Voice intelligence for calls: Capture key details during phone calls and show real-time transcriptions at the start of every call. Dialpad’s VI generates action items, call highlights, and searchable call summaries. Nice CXone: Best Five9 Alternative for Teams With High Call Volumes , formerly NICE inContact, stands out as one of the best predictive dialer providers for large sales and customer service teams. Omnichannel capabilities help businesses track conversations from a single dashboard, and workforce management tools keep labor costs under control without sacrificing the customer experience. In addition, the NICE Employee Virtual Attendant (NEVA) assists agents in real time and is an advanced version of Dialpad’s AI offerings. Although Nice CXone has fewer APIs than , both providers support omnichannel routing for more than 30 digital channels. Also, Nice CXone offers a self-service builder, conversational AI tools, and robust agent knowledge bases. Nice CXone’s advanced features help call centers leverage customer and conversation data from many channels. However, the cost may be prohibitive for small businesses with lower call volumes. Other solutions like or are less powerful yet still deliver interaction data for quality management, scheduling, and agent performance monitoring. Nice CXone Pricing at a Glance Nice CXone offers custom packages with bundled and a la carte features. The pricing is based on the number and type of features, users, and contract length. A base package costs around $100 per user, per month. Contact Nice CXone for a custom quote. Customer Engagement: Choose from digital, voice, or omnichannel options with ACD digital and voice agents, self-service IVR, standard audio recording, and more than 90 reports Contact Center Essentials: Deliver support on digital channels with advanced audio recording, quality management, and screen recording tools Contact Center Advanced: Optimize scheduling and productivity with workforce and performance management reporting Contact Center Complete: Understand customers with in-depth customer feedback and interaction analytics Nice CXone Features Workforce management: Forecast your scheduling needs based on specific skill sets. Then compare data from your ACD (automatic call distribution) and update schedules accordingly. Nice CXone WFM features use more than 40 algorithms to improve forecast accuracy. Recordings: Nice CXone records agents’ screens, voice calls, and digital channel interactions. All data resides in a central, searchable location. You can store recordings to meet regulatory requirements and monitoring purposes for QM. Self-service builder: Like , Nice CXone provides tools for developing self-service options, such as the CXone Bot Builder. The drag-and-drop tool lets you train bots to recognize industry terms and test them with actual users. How We Evaluated the Best Five9 Alternatives Five9 competitors offer general and advanced features, including AI-based tools, call routing options, and omnichannel support. Prices for voice services range from $15 to more than $100 per user, per month. We compared the capabilities and costs of each platform to determine the best use cases and standout features. Learn how we evaluated the best Five9 alternatives by clicking on the tabs below: Bottom Line Scale your customer service and sales support using call center software with automation and AI-driven insights. Look for user-friendly tools that allow your team to communicate and track conversations, and explore ways the platform uses data to fuel better employee and agent experiences. earned 4.78 out of 5, making it our top Five9 alternative. It’s the only option with a free version and built-in support desk ticketing software. Freshdesk Omnichannel plans provide speech-enabled IVR systems, CSAT surveys, and chatbots. Plus, it has a 21-day free trial, giving your team plenty of time to check out all that Freshdesk offers.