Communication is a crucial part to any business that wants to meet its goals and succeed. Through communication a business learns new ways of doing things.
The best small business phone system will manage your incoming calls, make quick outbound calls, and route calls effectively. Also, a good phone system will help you improve your overall communication process with the client.
A solid business phone system is vital to interacting with employees, customers, and business partners. Proper communication is effectively to run your business effectively. Communication in any business determines how a well your provide customer service to your clients.
Various communication systems bring different features to the table. Due to this, businesses should choose a phone system that favors its type of business. For example, if you have a deli, you phone system needs will be different than the needs of a call center.
The Best Small Business Phone System in 2018
Our best small business phone services provider this year is Nextiva. Nextiva is a Voice over Internet Protocol that offers reliability, easy and comprehensive setup, and a knowledgeable and responsive customer support.
Their service is effective for improving business communication and productivity, as their phone systems have ‘endless’ features. For a period of time we were using Nextiva in our Wise Small Business office, and it did not disappoint.
Nextiva vs. RingCentral vs. Phone.com Comparison
|Unlimited US & Canada Calls||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Price for 5 Phones*|
|$232.92 / month|
|$298.63 / month|
|$158.53 / month
|Price for 5 Phones*|
|$219.32 / month|
|$232.25 / month|
|$145.34 / month
|Integrations||Many CRMs (through Tenfold), Outlook, Zendesk||Many CRMs, Google, Outlook, ZenDesk||Many CRMs (through Tenfold)|
|Free Trial||30 Days||30 Days||30 Days|
|Customer Service||US Phone, Email & Chat||Not solely US-based Phone, Email & Chat||US Phone, Email & Chat|
|Auto Attendant||Yes, with free professionally recorded greeting||Yes||Yes|
|Visit Nextiva.com||Visit RingCentral.com||Visit Phone.com|
Main Types of Phone Systems: Landline vs. VoIP
Landline and VoIP are the phone systems available on the market today. They both offer basic features like extensions and handsets for all employees. They also provide functionalities like auto attendant (to connect and agree to calls), voicemails, transfers, and on-hold. However, VoIP has the upper hand as it only requires an Internet connection to allow communication, while the landline phone system depends on the traditional phone wiring.
Some of the advantages of VoIP include:
- Simple user interface
- Phone portability
- Increased employee efficiency and productivity
- It is cheap. No installation or maintenance cost is incurred
- Tools that cannot be supported by a landline system (like voicemails being delivered to a person’s email inbox). Or, making and receiving calls from your cell to the business number
- Easy to scale. Unlike using a landline system, with VoIP you only need to add another user online and make arrangements for a desk set later
- Seamless communications which are at per with the ever changing current trends
- Flexible due to their extensive connections; allowing calls to be connected to smartphones when you’re away from your office
Before arriving at the conclusion that Nextiva is the best small business phone system, I weighed the features and functionalities of the top three VoIP phone systems that are, Nextiva, RingCentral’s, and Phone.com which we have found to be suitable for small businesses.
All three have their upsides and downsides and therefore there is no one provider that will be perfect for your business. When it comes to pricing, feature, customer service and integrations, you’ll have to do your research. It comes down to weighing the pros and cons of each provider.
Nextiva: Best Overall Small Business Phone System
We recommend Nextiva‘s phone system to any small business because of its reliability. It provides high-quality calls and connectivity, mainly due to its large size and multiple data centers. This way, when one data center fails, the rest are available and so communication activities are not disrupted.
Nextiva has also maintained a high level of stability in the fast-changing communications industry. This increases customer reliability, which is very important for a phone system provider. Nextiva simply provides top-notch customer service.
They are the only provider that gives small business clients a dedicated US based account representative to talk them through the challenging setup process. In addition to that, they also provide you with a professionally recorded phone greeting. Compared to other providers, they are very responsive if any issues arise.
That’s where Nextiva beats RingCentral’s support, which only provides US based customer service to larger companies that pay for 20 or more lines. This makes them a less attractive option to small clients. On the other hand, despite the fact that Phone.com is cheaper compared to the other two VoIP phone systems, it is more prone to consistency issues due to its small network.
Depending on your connect plan, the local and toll-free number is included at no extra charge. Nextiva also provides instant automated personalized greeting that allows the caller to choose the department or person they are trying to reach. They also offer professional voicemail services that help your caller connect with you even when you are not around.
Depending on your availability, you can choose a number for your business to connect plan. Nextiva offers unlimited extension which allows you to add numbers which give your business a multi-city appearance. You can combine both local and toll-free numbers.
Nextiva definitely ranks as the best small business phone system on our list.
RingCentral’s: Best High-End Phone System
RingCentral’s phone services are “luxury” Voice over Internet Protocol. They offer a quality interface for setting up an auto attendant, creating room for the customization of call forwarding settings, and the ability of users to check their voicemails. So far, RingCentral has the best mobile app to make calls over the Internet or mobile network using business phone numbers.
Switching between the two is also possible with disrupting or stopping the conversation. RingCentral offers Customer Relationship Management which allows calls to be made through Zen Desk, Zoho, Salesforce, and Desk.com, among others. This serves as an advantage since integrating Nextiva and Phone.com with CRMs will be at an additional charge for setup.
The downside of this attractive package is their high pricing and the fact that they give priority to large businesses. Only businesses with 20 or more user accounts are eligible for dedicated support. If you do meet the 20+ user requirement, an account representative will help you transfer your existing phone numbers or order new lines. This includes local, toll-free, and vanity numbers.
Phones ordered through RingCentral arrive in just a few days, fully configured and ready to use. An online wizard guides you after your first login and goes through the user setup and your phone system’s settings. All these features, from management to setup and more, are available on RingCentral’s mobile app.
RingCentral’s phone system can be managed through the cloud from your desktop computer or smart device, across all office locations. You have complete control using a user-friendly and familiar web interface with drop-down menus, boxes, and fill-in fields.
With RingCentral’s phone system, it is easy to add and change users, assign phones, or manage extensions and groups, anytime and anywhere. Their system also saves time as users can manage most of their own settings from their own computer and phones.
Phone.com: Most Cost Effective Option
One of the best things about Phone.com is that they have a lower price for their packages. It is about $10-15 per user every month lower than Nextiva. They also offer a pay per minute plan which helps save a great amount of money if your employees only spend a few hours on the month every month.
Phone.com also offers free international calling for one of their plans, to landlines in countries like Israel, Germany, United Kingdom, Italy, Netherlands, Canada, France, and Puerto Rico. Rates to other countries are still low compared to Nextiva and RingCentral’s rates.
To avoid the international fee, Phone.com allows for the purchase of an international number for the cost of $5 a month. However, they do not provide a setup specialist which may prove as somewhat ineffective customer support. Lastly, their small network makes them prone to have reliability issues.
Phone.com does offer an address book that allows you to synchronize your contacts. This way, you can easily call or send messages directly with your Phone.com account. You can also import your existing contacts from other services like Yahoo, Gmail, or Outlook. Phone.com lets you assign custom call handling rules for your contacts and send them to personalized messages or voicemails.
This phone system also allows you to use your old analog phones by connecting them with Phone.com using their Analog Telephone Adapter (ATA). On top of all that, there’s a feature that helps you block all unwanted calls by either blocking them during calls or adding them to your blocked calls list (through the online portal).
If you want block calls from or to pay phones or international calls, it can be done with the Phone.com system. Unwanted numbers are added to you spam callers list directly from your call logs. Unblocking can easily be done in the same way.
Phone.com may not be the best small business phone system, but they are definitely a good choice for VoIP and International calls.
Nextiva: Simplifying Business Communication
Nextiva falls between RingCentral’s and Phone.com with a package ranging from $234 per month for five users or $219 per month if paid annually for their “Office Pro Plus” (their most common plan). For an additional $7 per user every month, you can upgrade to “Office Enterprise” which comes with a premium features such as a call recording and monitoring, Nextiva mobile App, and the conference bridge. Transcripts are payable at $2.95 per line.
RingCentral’s has the most expensive business phone service which stands at $299 per month for five users or $232 per month if paid annually. Though it offers unlimited outbound calling, RingCentral’s is the only phone system that charges incoming toll-free calls. It also offers a mid-tier “premium” account where each user gets 2500 toll-free minutes valid for 41 hours, after which a standard charge of 3.9 cents per minute is charged. RingCentral’s has a less expensive pay per minute plan.
Phone.com is by far the cheapest of all the VoIP packages. It’s pricing ranges from $159 per month for five users to $145 per month if paid annually. They also offer the pay per minute option which allows you to you pay as low as $84 per month with five employees who talk for an average of five hours in a month.
However, though it is the most cost effective, Phone.com only provides a unique 10 digit number for $5 per user per month. With Phone.com, you you will pay for advanced features (for example, call recording costs $5 per month for 300 minutes). Caller analytics also incur an extra cost of $2 per month, while the transcription fee is $1.50 per extension.
A full Phone.com package would come to around $207 per month for five users which ends up being a bit cheaper than Nextiva. However, one should consider the importance of call reliability and customer service, which is where Nextiva shines (which truly makes it the best small business phone system).
In case you are considering this provider, here’s a little recap about Phone.com:
- Nextiva and RingCentral’s give each user a unique ten digit number for free. Phone.com does not, they charge $5 per month per user.
- Each company can use local phone numbers. They also have access to the 800 number. They can also have a combination of the two that is the local number and the 800 number. RingCentral’s and Phone.com offer international phone numbers for a certain specified countries.
- Nextiva allows for a company’s personalized script to be recorded professionally for the phone greeting at no extra cost. Auto attendants can direct callers to the right departments. An option of the dial by name directory.
- Nextiva and RingCentral’s have many options for call routing. This way, rules of handling calls can be set easily. For example, sales calls can ring on multiple lines or roll from one line to another when not picked up.
- Through the mobile app, employees can receive calls on their personal phones using their business phone numbers.
- Sending and receiving an electronic fax is possible.
Each of this VoIP services can integrate with popular Customer Relationship Management (CRMs) through Tenfold. Some of these CRMs include Outlook, Gmail, Zoho, Salesforce, Insightly, SugarCRM, and more. Insightly is our favorite CRM because it is cheap and easy to use.
The integration allows you to log or feed calls into your CRM. That includes: who made the call, the duration, related contacts, user notes, and more. An incoming call triggers a scan through the CRM to show useful information.
Tenfold supports the three recommended VoIP providers. A charge of $29 per month is incurred because of integration with a third party service. Nextiva and RingCentral’s also support integrations of their own called “official integrations”. The benefit of using these official integrations is that no charge is incurred.
Nextiva has few official integrations. They allow the user to install Firefox, Outlook and the Internet Explorer that allows you to adjust the call forwarding setting. This is only available for Enterprise Edition users. A second integration is with ZenDesk that allows you to make and receive calls within a program.
RingCentral’s integrates with several official integrations which may be Office 365, Box, Google, Outlook, Salesforce, Zoho, ZenDesk, and Desk.com. The Google/Outlook integrations make it possible to make and receive calls or texts from your inbox. In the same way, Desk.com, ZenDesk, and Salesforce let you make or receive calls straight from the program.
Phone.com’s service does not support any additional integrations apart from tenfold.
Small Business Phone System Reliability
To arrive at the conclusion of the reliability of each of the phone service systems, we had to put three factors to the test: average customer rating, the number of data center, and server uptime.
Average customer rating is the average of the many customer reviews we collected from five trusted sources. We paid attention to quality and reliability comments and on how satisfied the clients were with support and billing.
Server uptime measures how often data centers are online. What makes a big difference here is the number of decimal places. For example, 99.999% equates to a downtime or rather a time that the centers were not online of twenty-six seconds. 99.99% would equate to four minutes and nineteen seconds of total downtime.
When uptime is guaranteed it simply means that the company will be compensated if downtime exceeds the agreed period. The final factor we put in place was the number of data centers. The more there are, the more reliable your service will be, as one center can guarantee uptime when another fails.
In reviewing our criteria from earlier, Nextiva has an average customer rating of 79% which translates to 3.94 out of 5 stars. They have a server uptime of 99.999% but a representative stated that they guarantee 99.9%. This means that compensation can be sought if the service is down longer than the specified time. For example, in this case, it is only four minutes per month.
RingCentral’s has a fairly outstanding customer rating which stands at 81%, equaling to 4.1 out of 5 stars. Like Nextiva, RingCentral guarantee a server uptime of 99.9%, according to a company representative.
This small business phone provider has the lowest customer rating which stands at just 69%, equaling 3.44 out of 5 stars. It has a server uptime of 99.99%. Phone.com does not offer a guarantee on uptime.
After our review, Nextiva emerged as the winner in customer support. I noticed that they were very quick to respond to questions and their support staff was very knowledgeable. Phone.com was the second with equally fast and responsive customer support. RingCentral’s ranked third due to its slow responsive time for phone support (I was on hold for a few minutes before hanging up).
Nextiva undertakes all its US based customer support through chat, email, and phone. However, their hours of support are limited. Hours range from 5am-6pm on weekdays, to 9am-1pm on Saturday. From online reviews and personal experience, Nextiva had the most responsive and knowledgeable staff.
RingCentral offers 24 hour customer service with a combination of US and Non-US based support. As mentioned before, companies with 20+ users get an assigned rep. Users were very happy with RingCentral’s’s customer support (even though I waited on hold for a little while to reach them).
Phone.com has a 24hr US chat, email, and phone support. They are quick to respond to calls and emails. This can save you a lot of time. However, despite the quick response to calls, you might have to talk to several support members to get an answer to your question. This is a setback. This is mainly from client feedback through reviews and from speaking with Phone.com through chat.
Our Final Review for the Best Phone Systems for Small Business
After analyzing and reviewing what each of top 3 VoIP providers had to offer, we came to a conclusion that Nextiva is the best small business phone system. Although it is not the cheapest, cost is not always the number one factor when it comes to reliability and your business’ success.
Completely reliable customer support is what any small business need to thrive. For the reliability alone, Nextiva is definitely worth the money. After hours of research, they are definitely our top pick, whether you are just starting out in business, or want to switch to a new provider.
Finally, we found Nextiva to be flexible with businesses that are looking to grow. Any provider that lets you scale up or down as you grow has earned our vote.