It may be possible to handle your business communications with just a cell phone and an email address, but it’s not advisable. A professional-grade phone system allows you to keep in touch with clients and partners, and there are options for almost any size business and budget. Here are seven of the top virtual phone systems for business available now.
A traditional private branch exchange (PBX) phone system requires external devices, occupies office space and takes money to maintain. RingCentral and the other virtual phone systems for business we’re going to talk about here replace the landline and hardware with core technology infrastructure and a global network so your business phone works through the internet.
RingCentral, like the other solutions on our list, is a cloud-based phone system. It allows you to make calls, send text messages, hold video conferences and more from any connected device. It’s available in several plans for small businesses and at the enterprise level, so business owners can choose the pricing and features that work best for them.
You can use RingCentral with your cell phone and PC. The company also offers desktop Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) phones that look and work like a standard desk phone, they just use the internet instead of a landline. It’s easy to sign up and get started with just an internet connection, and they have 24/7 support that receives positive reviews.
The most basic plan starts at $19.99 a month per user if you pay annually and comes with unlimited phone calls and messaging. From there plans go up to $69.99/month based on the number of users you have. Phones from vendors like Polycom and Cisco start at about $100 each.
Billed monthly plans are more expensive, so while there’s no contract, to get the best price you have to commit for the year. It’s important to note the price is per user, so if you are sharing the most basic plan between five employees, you’re looking at around $100/month if you pay for the whole year up front.
More expensive plans include a multi-level auto attendant, an automated system that answers calls with a custom-recorded greeting and allows callers to choose their extension. When you pay for premium and ultimate plans you also get integration with CRM platforms like Salesforce and Zendesk and voicemail transcription to text.
RingCentral for Enterprise-level businesses has solutions built for specific industries. For example, their healthcare solution has multilayered security to meet regulatory requirements and their real estate industry package focuses on helping agents stay connected. Their website encourages you to request a quote to see pricing on those options.
This virtual phone system takes your PBX system to the cloud, and it also doesn’t require anything but an internet connection. It can be an attractive choice for startups because the basic “Sprout” plan doesn’t have a monthly fee.
For each plan, business owners buy a local or toll-free number, or you can migrate an existing phone number. Buying one starts at a dollar per month, with no extra charge for vanity numbers.
Calls are billed per minute, with incoming call rates at $0.016 per minute and voicemail costing $0.014. Outgoing calls start at $0.022 per minute when customers live inside the United States. There’s an additional cost per team member for conference calls, call recording and call monitoring.
The “Blossom” plan starts at $19/month per agent plus pay-per-minute fees. For that you get additional features like voicemail, call masking so recipients can’t see the number you’re calling from and call center analytics.
Freshcaller recommends the “Garden” plan for larger teams scattered across a wide geographic area. That one starts at $40/month per agent with the same minute charges as the other two plans. With that you get conference calling, non-business hours routing, advanced call metrics and access to their European data center.
The company provides around the clock email support and phone support five days a week at no additional charge. While they offer a discount when you pay annually, there’s no contract and you can upgrade or downgrade your plan as needed.
Vonage might be the most well-known communication platform for connecting and communicating through the cloud. It taps into your internet for calls, text messages and more. Vonage isn’t a mobile service provider, but you can use a Vonage plan to make calls on up to two smartphones and answer calls with their app.
One of the nice things about Vonage Business is that it comes with more than 40 features standard. Voicemail transcription to text goes straight to your email. You have the ability to listen in on important calls and record calls to an archive for no additional fee.
When you’re on the go, Vonage offers call forwarding and a desktop app. You can personalize your business with hold music and custom call tagging. It also integrates with programs like Office 365, Salesforce and Microsoft Dynamics.
Vonage advertises 99.999 percent uptime reliability. Plans start at $19.99/month per user.
Mitel and RingCentral have a lot of similarities when it comes to pricing and features. They have about the same call management functions and offer collaboration through capabilities like multi-point video conferencing. Mitel supports VoIP phones from the same vendors, but some reviewers note their phones sometimes cost less, even when they have more features.
Mitel’s MiCollab is great for teams that need to interact from multiple locations. Collaborative workspaces allow file and screen sharing, audio conferencing and file annotating, so meetings are more productive.
Users can access features from a desktop, on mobile, and sync to wearables. Mitel doesn’t publish pricing, instead encouraging business owners to get in touch.
If you spend any amount of time researching virtual phone systems for business, it won’t be long before you see someone raving about 8×8. The California-based company has more than 125 patents and consistently develops innovative business solutions. Users like that their cloud communications are simple to use, always work and integrate seamlessly with other tools.
They’re competitively priced. Small business plans run between $25 and $55 monthly per user, depending on how many users you have. Their mobile app lets you access your business line from anywhere. Features include calling, faxing, video conferencing, chat and SMS. Their basic plan helps business owners keep costs down with unlimited calling for free.
Grasshopper lets small business owners and entrepreneurs run their business from their cell phones. If all you need is a business number, this option keeps you from having to carry more than one device.
Use the cell phone you already have to make and receive calls from your local or toll-free business number, forward calls and send business texts. Plans cost between $26 and $80 per month when you pay annually. We covered Grasshopper in more detail in our article How to Choose the Best Business Line for Your Smartphone. *****ADD INTERNAL LINK HERE WHEN OTHER ARTICLE IS LIVE******
We used pricing, features and user reviews to compile our list, and really we could keep going indefinitely. Solutions like Axon Virtual PBX, Comcast VoIP, CrazyCall and Talkroute are also solid choices when it comes to virtual phone systems for business.
They all eliminate the need for a traditional landline phone and allow you to conduct business on the go. Since every business has unique needs, what’s best for each will vary. They’re all good, but there’s also another solution.
Ruby Receptionist is different from the others in that calls to your business line are answered by a live person, not a pre-recorded greeting or a list of menu options. They’re called virtual receptionists, but that doesn’t mean they’re robotic. While Ruby Receptionists work out of an office in Portland Oregon, they sound like they’re at your physical location.
How Ruby Receptionist Works
It’s like having a receptionist at your office location who greets callers, answers basic questions and, if needed directs the call to the right employee. Their service uses VoIP technology, so you still get voicemail, call routing by calendar integration, hold music and voicemail transcription. You can make calls and send texts from your business number through the Ruby app for no extra charge.
When you’re available for calls, direct them straight to your business number. When you aren’t, use the app to send callers to your Ruby Receptionist.
Pricing is based on the number of receptionist minutes you need. Entrepreneurs who run the show get 30 receptionist minutes, a business phone and all the standard features for $149/month.
Plans go up from there depending on how many receptionist minutes you need and how many other users you want to add. It replaces the need for a business line, separate mobile device and office receptionist all at once.
Your virtual receptionist can perform other tasks you’d typically ask office staff to do like add leads to your CRM or input customer service tickets to HelpDesk. Ruby will also make calls for you upon request, so you can have your virtual receptionist confirm appointments or call ahead if you’re stuck in traffic.
On Monday through Friday from 5 am to 9 pm and Saturday from 6 am to 6 pm, receptionists take your calls. Outside of business hours you can set up automated responses or send callers to your business voicemail. Virtual receptionists transfer calls to any number you choose, and you can switch that as often as you like. They also offer bilingual receptionists for Spanish-speaking callers.
Special Offer for Spade Design Referrals
We focus on using technology to build relationships and connect with audiences. We like how Ruby Receptionist uses live virtual receptionists to create real, meaningful connections, build trust and help you win business. You don’t have to choose between always answering the phone and losing customers to voicemail or frustrating menus.
Instead, you gain the technology you need to grow your business from any location. Plus, Spade Design referrals save $75 on their first full month of service. Simply use promo code Spade when you visit callruby.com/spade.