2018 VoIP Service Reviews & Pricing Guide for Small Business
A Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) program allows you to use your computer, an internet connection, and phones to place calls without having to set up a traditional line. Internet telephony has been around for decades, but it has improved significantly in quality, features, and it’s one of the most affordable services your business needs.
VoIP Reviews & Pricing for Top Providers
If you’re ready to see some of the best VoIP services, read the reviews below. For more information on which VoIP is right for your small business, the features available, how to prepare for VoIP in your office, and how it can replace any other system you’re currently using, keep reading.
RingCentral offers solutions for making & receiving calls over the internet, call diverting, conferencing, etc. Prices start at $29.99/user/month. View Profile
Nextiva is a VoIP service provider that offers advanced call management tools, online faxing, and more. Prices range from $31.95 to $44.95/month. View Profile
Vonage is a cloud-based VoIP service that caters to all business sizes and industries. Prices range from $14.99-39.99/line/month. View Profile
Grasshopper is a virtual phone service that gives your small business the polish of a larger company. Price ranges from $29 to $89. View Profile
How a VoIP System Can Help Your Business
A VoIP system can be implemented to work in your office, on your mobile phone, your laptop, and even your email inbox. As VoIP evolves, it’s ensuring you’re able to stay in touch with everyone in your small business and clients without having to worry about dropped calls, static, interference, or even having actual phones to take or make those calls.
Regardless of your business size, a VoIP system can make your company appear bigger with features like an auto attendant. You’ll also save time by letting your VoIP service sort calls based on department or title, and you won’t miss an important call with features like find me/follow me. A VoIP system can be more affordable than a traditional business phone line, include more features to allow for more flexibility, and your service can go wherever you do, without you having to worry about costly or complicated implementation.
There’s a lot to consider before choosing a VoIP service for your small business. This guide contains VoIP reviews and tips to help you know how to choose the best one for you and your growing company.
How to Choose the Right VoIP Service
You’ll get the most complete VoIP system if you look for standard features, such as voicemail, greetings, and call forwarding. Also, consider a high-tiered plan from companies like RingCentral, for more advanced features, such as software integrations or support across multiple locations. If you only need the basics, plus a few add-ons, consider a VoIP provider that charges nominal monthly costs for a-la-carte features.
To see whether a VoIP system could help you save money, take our short quiz and get a list of suggested services.
Most Common Features of VoIP
When you choose a VoIP service, you get the option of using an IP phone that’s used like a traditional phone, a headset to be used with a computer, or you can use another combination of microphone and headphone setup. You can even use your mobile phone with the VoIP service’s app, if it offers one.
Aside from the many different ways you can communicate, there are lots of features included with a small business VoIP service. The features listed below are examples of what’s considered standard and they’re usually offered at no additional cost, though some may be reserved for higher-tier plans.
- Voicemail: A caller can leave a voice message for you, and you can listen to it on your IP phone or from your VoIP service’s desktop, web, or mobile client.
- Call Waiting: You’re alerted of a new incoming call, even if you’re already on the line, so you can choose to answer or ignore.
- Call Forwarding: Set up automatic transfers of calls placed to one number to another one, which is helpful when you’re out of the office and need calls sent to your mobile phone.
- Caller ID: A caller’s name and phone number are displayed on your phone or app.
- Conference Calling: Also known as 3-way calling, this feature allows you to speak with more than one person at a time.
- Video Conferencing: Meet with clients or coworkers in a video meeting without the need of other video software.
- Mobile App: The VoIP’s software made specifically for mobile phones, which lets you take and place calls from your smartphone.
- Call Recording: You can record incoming and outgoing calls from the VoIP software, which helps with sales and customer support.
- Software Integrations: Data sync between your VoIP service and other business software you use, such as customer relationship management software (CRM), can be helpful for every department in your small business.
Advanced Features of VoIP
Many VoIP systems bundle advanced features in their top-tier plans or offer them as add ons. These are the features that could make your small business appear as a much bigger operation.
- Auto Attendant: Callers will hear a greeting and are offered a menu or directory to choose who they need to speak with in your company.
- Professional Greetings: Your VoIP service may offer a professionally recorded greeting to be used with your auto attendant.
- Virtual Faxing: Send and receive faxes without a machine — PDFs go to your email inbox.
- Voicemail to Email: Rather than listen to voicemails, you can choose to have messages transcribed and sent to your email.
- Find Me/Follow Me: An advanced call forwarding feature that will ring all the numbers for you when you have a call (a.k.a. hunting).
- Texting: Send and receive SMS messages through your VoIP service.
VoIP System Pricing Guide
Pricing for VoIP services might be a little confusing when you first start shopping for an alternative to a traditional business phone system. We studied the lowest-priced plans to the most expensive from some of the top VoIP systems available on the market right now, such as Nextiva, RingCentral, and Vonage. The chart below is meant to show you what can expect to get and approximately how much you’ll pay for those services per user per month.
|Monthly Cost per User/Line|
|Find Me/Follow Me|
Consider How Many Lines You Need
As you can see from the chart above, most VoIP provider plans are priced per line. So, it’s important to understand that “lines” can mean different things in the VoIP world. In the traditional phone line world, the telephone company would come to your office and install actual lines — one for each desk or employee — along with a wall jack, and then the whole system would work with those physical lines.
When you switch over to a VoIP system, you’re using your internet connection with computers or IP phones with ethernet cables to create a business phone network. Mobile phones use a Wi-Fi or the smartphone’s data to connect. So, you can have one line, or phone number, with several extensions. Deciding on how many lines could come down to how many phones, extensions, or users you have or want.
Most VoIP services require you to pay per user or phone number, but this means you can scale up or down easily because there are no actual lines. You can have a single phone number, even if you have multiple office locations, and then split those offices by extensions. You’ll end up paying per extension (or line or user). So, consider every office, department, and employee you have.
Virtual Phone vs VoIP System
There are some outliers in the VoIP market that aren’t quite VoIP, but rather virtual phone systems, such as Grasshopper. The biggest difference between VoIP and virtual phone systems is that calls through VoIP are transmitted via your internet connection, whereas calls through a virtual phone system are routed through a phone network. You would still need to have a traditional phone system (or a cell phone), but even with a single line, a virtual phone service can help make a small business appear larger with its advanced call forwarding service. Generally, a virtual phone system is more affordable than VoIP services, and it’s a bit more limiting in features.
For example, you won’t be able to make outgoing calls or send faxes through a virtual phone system like Grasshopper, but you can receive an unlimited amount of them. The line or user structure is a little different, too. Rather than paying per line or user, you’ll pay for a small amount of business phone numbers, and you’ll get multiple extensions.
VoIP Reviews & Pricing for All Providers
Now that you know the common features and what you can expect to pay for them, here is a list of reviews for all VoIP service providers.
All VoIP Reviews
Phone.com offers small businesses flexible plans - from a basic phone line to a more advanced system. Price ranges from $9.99 to $29.99 per month. View Profile
Dialpad’s features include call transfer, switching, routing, recording, video conferencing, and more. Prices range from $20-$30+/month. View Profile
Google Voice provides users with a free number for calls, text messages, & voicemail. Rates range from $0-$7.25/minute, if outside the US & Canada. View Profile
VirtualPBX is a hosted VoIP business phone system service provider for small and mid-sized companies. Prices range from $14.99-$37.99/line/month. View Profile
FluentStream is a cloud-based, hosted VoIP system that provides business phone solutions. Prices start at $20/user/month. View Profile
Switchvox is a complete Voice over IP (VoIP) business phone solution that offers unified communications. Prices start at $14.99/seat. View Profile
VoIPStudio offers solutions for enterprise telephony, remote office, call barging, and more. Prices range between $4.99 and $39.99/user/month. View Profile
What You’ll Need to Get Started with Your VoIP
Once you sign up for a VoIP system, you’ll need to outfit your employees and office with certain equipment. Plus, you’ll need to make sure you have a good internet connection to handle the call volume. You’re also going to have to consider security and backup plans, in case of internet outages. The decisions you make here are important to ensure you get all you can out of your VoIP system.
Below we cover the equipment options you have to make a VoIP system work for your company. Plus, we explain what you’ll need when it comes to bandwidth, security, and a comparison chart to show how much more affordable VoIP is compared to traditional business phone lines.
Handsets vs Headsets: The Many Ways to Use VoIP Services
Using a VoIP system to place or receive calls requires at least one existing service on your end: a broadband internet connection. The device you use to communicate with coworkers, clients, and others is up to you, and there are plenty of options. From desk IP phones to headsets to just a mobile phone, they’ll all work. Of course, most VoIP services do not include phones or headsets, but many give you the option to rent them. You could also choose to buy the devices you need outright from a provider or reseller.
The most popular choice in phones for a VoIP system is an IP desk phone. It looks a lot like a traditional desk phone, but it uses an ethernet cable. You’ll just have to program it with its proper extension and the VoIP software to get it to work. These IP phones have more functionality than traditional desk phones because it is made to work with the added features of VoIP services. To buy one, you’ll likely spend anywhere from $100 to $500 each. Renting these phones are usually $10 to $25 each per month.
An IP conference phone works similarly to a regular IP phone in that it hooks up to your internet connection and is configured to work with your VoIP system. The looks and functionality of this type of phone are a little different. Usually there’s no handset, rather a large speaker and a 360-degree microphone that allows everyone’s voice in the room to be easily transmitted over the call.
Computers & Headsets
Technically, to receive and place calls through a VoIP system, all you need is a microphone, speakers, and an internet connection. So, you could opt to use your laptop as it is and it would work. If you want a little more privacy and better quality sound and voice, then you might want to opt for headsets. There are many brands that use USB ports, so they’re easy to use on any computer or laptop. Plus, this is an affordable option.
Most VoIP systems offer a mobile app with their plans, so you can turn your own smartphone into a business phone without revealing your personal phone number, and you don’t have to use your data. Just download your VoIP’s mobile app on your phone, login, and set up the software so you receive calls to your mobile device. Oh, and make sure you’re connected to your office’s Wi-Fi.
How Much of Your Internet to Devote to VoIP
As technology improves, so does the quality of services, such as VoIP. Also, internet connections are getting faster and more affordable, which means small businesses are finally able to operate like a bigger company with these services far more accessible than they were in the past.
To ensure you have high-quality calls, it’s important to get the right amount of internet for the number of people you have using the VoIP system at any given time. Do a quick check of your internet speed and check out a helpful bandwidth-to-lines chart here.
What to Do about Internet Outages and Your VoIP System
Any VoIP service is likely to have a plan for when the internet goes out at your office. Make sure you set up routing for when outages occur, so you don’t miss any calls. Usually, you can choose a mobile phone number, a private landline, or another network. You can set the system up to route all calls to a business voicemail until your connection is restored.
What Security Measures You Need to Take
You probably didn’t think about security with a traditional business phone system, but a VoIP system is a little different. Your whole system is working off your broadband internet connection, so it’s important you take the proper precautions to keep eavesdroppers and hackers out. All your calls, voicemails, and texts made through a VoIP system are data, just like any other sort of data, and therefore vulnerable to attacks.
As long as you use a trusted VoIP host, your data is safe on its end. The company employs several layers of protection, from physical firewalls to encryption of every transmission. You can add further security by providing your own firewalls at your office, ensuring software is updated regularly, and enforcing two-factor authentication wherever available.
Integration with Internal Systems
A big benefit for small businesses and VoIP systems is the ability to integrate the phone service with other software you use. For example, you could attach a transcribed voicemail from your inbox to a customer’s card in your chosen CRM solution, if it’s supported. Other business app integrations often include Zendesk, G Suite, and Microsoft Outlook, making your company run more efficiently.
Traditional Telephony vs VoIP Services
If you’re still considering using traditional telephony services, it’s important to understand what you would get, the estimated cost, and how it stacks up to VoIP. That’s why we pit a popular bundle from a well-known provider of phone and internet services to a top VoIP provider. Here’s how it shakes out:
Traditional vs VoIP Comparison
|No. of Phone Lines|
|Automatic Call Recording|
How VoIP Helps Your Business Grow, Succeed, and Spend Less
It might seem like a no-brainer to sign up for VoIP services for your small business right now, but if you’re still struggling to see the benefit, this section is for you. Learn how switching to a VoIP system like RingCentral can help you grow your business and save you money.
Perform Like a Bigger Business
When you have a VoIP system in place with an auto attendant, your customers call in to a recorded greeting and they’ll have the chance to choose a department, use a directory to connect with an individual, or simply get helpful information about your business. This call center-like setup implies a larger corporation. That impression could go a long way with customers or other callers wanting to do business with you.
Increase Efficiency & Efficacy
A VoIP service can also free up your time spent answering phone calls when they’re unnecessary. Features such as call screening can help you decide as a call comes in whether you should take it, reroute it, or let it go to voicemail. Some services let you block a number, which can be helpful if you’re getting calls from relentless telemarketers.
Using a VoIP system with advanced features can help ensure each call gets to the right person, or that a call doesn’t go unanswered. The hunting feature, or find me/follow me, will ring you at your desk, and if you don’t pick up after a certain amount of time or rings, will route to your mobile phone.
Cut Costs & Increase Flexibility
Presenting a professional front in telecommunications is vital for any business, even if we do rely heavily on email. A VoIP system is far more affordable than a traditional phone system, and it can go with you wherever you go. There’s no need to pay for physical installations of the system or lines, so if you decide to move headquarters across the country, you’ll be turnkey-ready when you set up shop in the new spot.
In addition to being affordable, VoIP services are as flexible as you are mobile. You and your teams can’t be expected to stay in the office 24/7, so having access to your telecommunications on your laptop or mobile phone is important. Plus, you’ll maintain your professionalism with your business’ phone numbers and caller ID, rather than using your personal phone for business.
What’s the Future of VoIP Technology?
As tech-forward as VoIP systems are already, there’s room for improvement, and the top services are always working toward making it better for everyone. The industry is on an upward climb and it’s expected to grow 9.8 percent by 2021, according to market research.
Although many VoIP services already offer mobile apps, there are plenty of telecommunication companies creating mobile-only VoIP systems, thanks to Wi-Fi and 5G network technology advances.
You can also expect to see more businesses adopt VoIP as part of a unified communications (UC) approach, which will combine instant messaging, email, texting, calls, and social media. Plus, VoIP services are making it easier for small businesses to think and expand globally, as it continues to make it possible for everyone around the world connect effortlessly and affordably.
The Bottom Line
Adopting a VoIP system for your small business is a smart choice for your own bottom line. It can help bridge gaps in communication, save you money in infrastructure, and provide flexibility for all your employees. Read through our reviews of the top VoIP services to choose the one that best fits your budget and your needs.
Top Customer Service Influencers of 2018
We’ve scouted the web for Customer Service influencers with a prominent social media presence and put together the list below of the top Customer Service influencers of 2018.
Our objective for this list is to present insightful tips to small business owners directly from the experts themselves. We found that the various influencers listed have excellent credentials, expertise, and skills pertaining to success within the Customer Service industry, as well as an impressive quantity of social media followers.