The best voice-over-internet-protocol (VoIP) business systems can do much more than make and receive calls. Just about any provider can handle call holds, transfers, and forwarding, but more advanced platforms provide predictive dialers, analytics, call management features, and more.
However, no two VoIP providers deliver the exact same feature set, so you’ll need to get picky with which features are nice-to-haves and need-to-haves. This guide will walk you through the best-of-the-best VoIP phone features for business so you know exactly what to look for and provide you with links to additional resources if you’d like to learn more.
1. Automated Attendant
An automated attendant is a top feature of the best business phone systems because it can eliminate the need for a live receptionist. This feature answers all of your incoming calls and sends them to their desired extension using call routing rules.
The most basic auto-attendants offer simple features like prerecorded messages and a small selection of hold music options. These are useful for solo workers and freelancers who are looking for some help when it comes to handling call traffic. Many premium VoIP vendors also offer multilevel auto-attendants (also known as interactive voice response, or IVR) with features like customizable greetings or the ability to route to multiple numbers. This functionality is ideal for more established teams with high call volumes.
Feature availability: Just about every VoIP platform provides an automated attendant. Some are basic voice recordings with an extension dialer, while others are more advanced IVR systems. You’ll usually find this feature on a VoIP provider’s most basic paid plan.
You can learn more about these providers in our article on the best auto-attendant phone systems.
2. Call Forwarding
Call forwarding is a popular business telephony feature that makes sure your customer’s calls never go unanswered. When the feature is activated, inbound calls can be automatically redirected to another extension or phone number.
It is an excellent option for business owners who want to minimize lost sales leads by redirecting calls to a mobile number when no one answers a desk phone. However, call forwarding does not ensure that a lead will never go to voicemail. Thus, some businesses choose to utilize an answering service in addition to enabling this feature.
Feature availability: This is a basic feature from all major providers.
You can also find systems that go beyond call forwarding by learning about the best answering services.
3. Call Hold & Transfer
Call hold and transfer are core features found in most business telephony systems. In basic terms, it works by letting you place a caller on hold and sending them to another extension or phone number.
Feature availability: Most services on the market offer this feature in some shape or form.
Look at our guide to find the providers who stand apart from the rest related to this feature in our article on best call management systems.
4. Call Recording
Call recording is a VoIP module that allows workers to record calls for training and reference purposes. Depending on the service, calls can either be recorded companywide or on an individual, on-demand basis. Some solutions even offer cloud storage space so that you don’t have to use up valuable space on your own network.
Call recording is especially helpful in customer service or sales environments where it can be useful to save important conversations. However, the feature works even better when your system also offers HD voice calling.
Feature availability: Most providers offer call recording, but it usually only becomes accessible at a premium level. Each provider will differ on how much you can record, where the recording is stored, and how to initiate the recording (automatic versus manual).
If your VoIP provider doesn’t offer call recording, consider using one of these top call recording apps.
5. Caller ID
Caller ID provides essential information on callers before anyone on your team picks up the phone. Standard information includes the user’s name and phone number. It can also include the city and state that the person is calling from.
This feature is useful for blocking anonymous or unknown calls. Additionally, outbound caller ID allows extension users to select which ID to use when placing a call. Caller ID is ideal for anyone using their personal device for work.
Feature availability: This is a default feature of all major VoIP providers.
6. Call Screening
Call screening puts workers in control of which calls to take. In basic terms, caller ID provides information on who’s calling so that the user can take the call, decline it, or send it to voicemail. It can also ask incoming callers to identify themselves and relay that information.
Call screening is great for busy staff who can only afford to take the most worthwhile incoming calls at any given time.
Feature availability: This is a common feature from most VoIP platforms.
You can learn how to make the most of this feature in our more in-depth article on call screening.
7. Call Flip
Call flip is a feature in which users can transfer calls from one device to another with the press of a button without disconnecting the line or relying on call parking. This feature comes in handy if you use a mobile device and the battery is about to die so that you can switch to a desk phone or desktop. Call flip is particularly useful for workers on the go who want to stay professional with clients.
Feature availability: Call flip isn’t an uncommon feature, but you’ll want to double-check to ensure your VoIP provider has it as it’s not a default.
Learn how call parking works and why call flip provides a more seamless call experience.
Basic voicemail features allow callers to leave messages for workers when they become available. However, advanced voicemail modules include custom greetings and automated transcription features that turn those messages into text.
Feature availability: Voicemail is a standard feature and widely available across all business VoIP providers.
9. Business Tool Integration
Leading VoIP features include the ability to connect data with outside business tools, such as support ticket systems, chat, and email, which keep conversation records centralized and teams connected. These integrations are especially beneficial to teams that are working remotely.
Advanced options also offer sales teams tools, such as the ability to connect caller information to customer relationship management (CRM) software. This functionality allows agents to review recent interactions using built-in call tracking without needing an external call log.
VoIP phones can also integrate with robust automatic or predictive dialing systems, which can take the manual work out of dialing new numbers.
Feature availability: Basic VoIP platforms don’t provide extensive integrations. Check with your provider to ensure they have the specific integrations you need to streamline processes.
10. Conference Bridge
Conference bridge is a common VoIP feature that allows users to hold audio meetings with dozens, sometimes hundreds, of participants through computers, smartphones, or any internet-connected device with a microphone. Conference bridge is fantastic for remote teams, as it lets them work collaboratively even when they are physically apart.
Feature availability: Most VoIP providers offer some form of conferencing as a standard feature, but some limit the number of participants. Also, some services only provide a single bridge number, which can result in embarrassing scheduling mishaps.
Avoid any surprises by brushing up on the best conference call services.
11. Video Conferencing
Video chat is a valuable business phone feature that lets multiple people join virtual meetings to both hear and see each other. On top of that, most solutions allow for screen sharing, which is useful for sharing important documents and other information with team members.
Many remote teams use video conferencing to stay in touch every single day. However, if you want to hold video conferences over your VoIP system, it’s worth noting that you will need a fast, stable internet connection to accommodate all of that data.
Whether you are looking to change services or you’re in the market for a new system entirely, we recommend trying out our free VoIP speed test tool. Check out our in-depth VoIP speed test article for more details.
Feature availability: Most providers offer video conferencing, but each will have a different limit on the number of participants. You’ll often need to upgrade to more expensive plans to increase your participant capacity.
Learn more about the best video conferencing services.
12. SMS Text Messaging
Short message service (SMS) features allow you to send and receive text messages on your business phone. Having this additional channel is helpful, as many of today’s customers prefer to communicate over text because it is quick and discrete. It is also useful for any business that wants to set up text marketing campaigns.
Feature availability: Most providers enable business texting for free, but some will lock this feature behind an additional monthly payment.
Check out all the cheapest VoIP services that offer business texting.
13. Hot Desking
Hot desk (also known as hoteling or share device) is a popular telephony module in which users log into a shared desk phone to access personalized profiles and configurations. It’s a useful way to let employees access their own voicemail and other features from any office phone, and it saves you the cost of having to invest in individual hardware. It is also suitable for environments where individual staff have low personal call volumes.
Learn all about what hot desking is and how it works.
14. Call Monitoring
Call monitoring empowers your managers to listen in on conversations. This functionality helps for training and data-gathering purposes, and it also empowers your managers to know more about how each conversation is handled.
Feature availability: Advanced call management features like call monitoring aren’t default, so check with your provider to see what functionality it offers.
Check out the best call monitoring software available.
15. Call Whispering
Call whispering empowers you to listen in on your agent conversations and whisper in their ear when they need a little help. Only the agent can hear your whisper—not the customer on the other end of the call. This feature helps you train employees or guide underperforming agents by reminding them about best practices or ongoing promotions.
Feature availability: Advanced call management features like call whispering aren’t default, so check with your provider to see what functionality it offers.
16. Call Barge-in
If you’re monitoring an agent’s call and the whispering alone isn’t doing the trick, you can enter the conversation and start communicating with call barge-in. This feature can be disruptive, but sometimes it’s necessary to undo a wrong or prevent a sale from falling apart.
Feature availability: Advanced call management features like call barging aren’t default, so check with your provider to see what functionality it offers.
17. Call Analytics
Call analytics help you collect, store, and analyze real-time and historical call data. This data can help inform you about agent and call performance so that you can make data-backed decisions to improve your program or call center.
Feature availability: Call analytics isn’t a standard feature. You’ll usually find it with the top VoIP providers, and even then, it’s typically locked behind the more expensive premium plans.
Check out the best call tracking software that can work with your VoIP provider.
18. Call Parking
Call parking is a popular feature that enables you to place an active call on hold so that you can continue the conversation on another phone extension. This functionality allows you to switch devices, transfer the call, or give yourself some time before answering a call.
Feature availability: Call parking is a standard VoIP feature and is widely available.
Learn more about how call parking works and how to use it.
19. Music on Hold
Music on hold empowers you to play generic or custom music for your customers who are waiting for an agent.
Feature availability: Most VoIP providers enable music on hold. However, custom music on hold isn’t as common a feature.
20. Predictive Dialer
Predictive dialer software is a calling system that automatically dials phone numbers from your list. These systems help connect your agents with prospects more quickly, leading to more efficient call centers and customer support programs.
Feature availability: Predictive dialers aren’t a common VoIP feature—you’ll usually need to buy an add-on service to use separately or integrate it with your VoIP platform.
Discover the best auto-dialer software solutions for small businesses.
VoIP business systems offer a lot of value to companies via their internet-based features. Whether it’s call hold and transfer tools or more advanced tech like video calls and hot desking, VoIP phone features are becoming essential business communication tools. That, plus the cost savings over landline systems, makes them an attractive option for large and small businesses.