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Top 11 Office Phone Systems in 2021


Discover the best office phone systems to lower your business phone costs using VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol).

Top Office Phone Systems

Office phone systems are an invaluable tool for effective communication in any organization. Besides making it possible to communicate over the phone, the best office phone systems also offer video conferencing and instant messaging.

But there are so many options to choose from, and it can be quite a feat to investigate and decide on the best one for your business. So, as usual, we’ve done the heavy lifting for you. 

We’ve gone and researched dozens of phone systems for offices and uncovered the best ones for various types of businesses and organizations. We looked at various factors—such as price, available features, ease of use, and customer service, among others—to determine which ones are most worthy of your consideration. 

And we’ve compiled our findings into this here post. Without further ado, let’s discover the top 11 office phone systems in 2021.

Best Office Phone Systems for Small Business

The best phone systems for small businesses are filled with tons of useful features and tools such as unlimited calling, voicemail, voicemail-to-email, an automated attendant, on-hold music, and several others. Some providers offer a few dozen features while others offer more than a hundred features. 

Besides the calling features, the best phone systems also offer unified communications systems that introduce other features like video and web conferencing, conference calls, text and instant messaging, and online faxing. 

Plus, most business phone systems and unified communications systems today offer mobile apps that allow you to stay connected wherever you are. This way, you and your employees can use a single device for both personal and work calls, among many other benefits.

Now, let’s dive in and explore the best office phone systems so you are better equipped to make the right choice for your business.

1. RingCentral

Best Office Phone System for Collaboration.

RingCentral is the Best Office Phone System for Collaboration

RingCentral Office boasts a wealth of features, multiple price points, and a well-thought-out user experience that makes it one of the best business phone systems out there. Built with collaboration in mind, RingCentral includes instant messaging, conference and video calling, and document sharing.

With these tools, team members can connect internally with one another and externally with customers and clients. These reasons make RingCentral the best office phone system for collaboration. 

As it provides audio and video conferencing, instant messaging, and online faxing plus phone service all in a single platform, RingCentral is a unified communications system. You can host conference calls with as many as 1,000 participants. And during video conferences, screen sharing is possible. 

Being a VoIP office phone system, it is hosted in the cloud and does not require any special equipment or wiring to install. All you need is a router that prioritizes voice and the bandwidth to support your call volume.

Once the system is set up and activated, you can start making and receiving calls. You can control the entire system from an online portal through which you or any other administrator can assign phone numbers and extensions to employees, customize answering rules, and set up the auto-receptionist. 

With its mobile apps for both Android and iOS, you and your staff can make and receive calls from your business lines, participate in conference calls, and receive online faxes. 

There’s also a robust desktop application for both PC and Mac users. From here, you can switch quickly between phone, video, and messaging. You can search for specific messages using the advanced search functionality, and the platform offers integrations with third-party calendar applications like Microsoft 365 and Google Calendar. 

RingCentral also offers call center services that can be added to any user’s plan. These services include Interactive Voice Response (IVR), outbound dialing and preview, call distributors, and predictive and progressive dialers. 

One standout feature of RingCentral is its reliability as it boasts a 99.999% uptime rate—which means you only get a few minutes of downtime per year. There are tons of user guides, webinars, how-to videos, and FAQs on the provider’s website, and customer support is available by phone 24/7.

Pricing

RingCentral Pricing Plan

There are four plans for RingCentral’s phone service. The plans come with varying features and prices that range from $20 to $60 monthly per user. And, as is the norm, you can save up to 33% per month if you choose annual billing rather than monthly billing. 

Pros

  • The system is cloud-based and requires no special equipment or wiring
  • The platform offers a wide array of features for calling, mobile, and collaboration.

Cons

  • The cheapest plan does not include audio and video conferencing.

2. CloudTalk

Best Cloud-based Call Center Software.

CloudTalk is the Best Cloud based Call Center Software

With CloudTalk, small and medium-sized businesses can deliver stellar customer service to their clients via an intuitive cloud-based platform. The platform can be customized to suit any business size, environment, or peculiar needs and requirements. 

CloudTalk comes equipped with myriad advanced call center and call routing features that include voicemail, personalized call greetings, contact tags, skill-based routing, IVRs, and automatic call redirection, among others. 

The admin interface is intuitively designed and uncluttered, the analytics are easy to understand, and retrieving customer information is simple. There are also outbound call features such as predictive dialing and campaign management.  

Additionally, there are a plethora of utility features that help your operations such as browser notifications, strong security, agent management, and unlimited calls. 

Besides these features, the platform integrates seamlessly with more than 500 third-party business tools that include CRMs, e-commerce, chat software, and ERPs, to name a few. 

These integrations extend the system’s functionality and make it easy to communicate with clients, prospects, and people within your organization. While more of these integrations are added regularly, the platform is further extensible with custom integrations thanks to its open API.

The platform’s mobile app, called CloudTalk Phone, is available for both iOS and Android devices. 

Pricing

CloudTalk Pricing Plan

Beyond the free trial, CloudTalk has four pricing plans. The plans come with varying features and prices that range from $25 to $50 monthly per user. But if you opt for annual billing, prices start at $20 monthly per user, allowing you to save up to 25%. 

Pros

  • CloudTalk allows you to view all call activity in one place
  • Setting up the system is easy 

Cons

  • Analytics are only available in the advanced plans
  • The basic package is too limited for larger customer bases

3. Ooma

Best Office Phone System for Remote Teams.

Ooma is the Best Office Phone System for Remote Teams

Ooma Office is a cloud-based business phone system that is ideal for remote teams. Ooma Office allows employees to access their business lines from either mobile and desktop apps or traditional desk phones, making it possible to make and receive business calls from anywhere. 

Another feature that makes it great for remote teams is its video conferencing that supports online meetings for as many as 25 participants at a time. This means that Ooma can be a cost-effective solution for you as you don’t have to shell out more money for a dedicated video conferencing software unless you hold larger meetings frequently. 

Although Ooma doesn’t have as many extra features as some other phone systems have, it does offer a comprehensive set of tools and features that remote teams will find invaluable

Some of these features are unlimited local and long-distance calling, a virtual receptionist, dedicated phone numbers and extensions, ring groups, music on hold, call transfers, voicemail, online faxing, call logs, and daytime and after-hours modes. Ooma extensions come with conference bridges, allowing you to host conference calls with up to 10 callers at once. 

The mobile and desktop apps also contribute to making Ooma a great fit for most remote teams. The mobile apps are available on Android and iOS and allow you to make and receive calls on your business line, manage voicemail, and transfer calls to other team members. 

The desktop app allows you to make calls straight from your computer and provides all the functionality of a traditional office phone. It allows extension dialing, can be included in ring groups and allows you to listen to voicemail. 

Also, you can create a company directory so that employees can connect at the click of a button and read voicemail transcripts. There are several customization options to make sure that employees can be reached whenever and wherever. 

Customer support is available 24/7 via phone, live chat, and email.

Pricing

Ooma Pricing Plan

Ooma offers two pricing plans for its business phone system: Ooma Office and Ooma Office Pro. Ooma Office contains most of the features and costs $19.95 monthly per user. But to get the desktop app, call recording, video conferencing, enhanced call blocking, and voicemail transcription, you’ll need to upgrade to Ooma Office Pro which costs $24.95 monthly per user. 

Pros

  • The platform is cloud-based so users can stay connected wherever they are.
  • Ooma Office offers conference calling and video conferencing.

Cons

  • Ooma Office doesn’t have as many features as other office phone systems.

4. Grasshopper

Best Virtual Business Phone System.

Grasshopper is the Best Virtual Business Phone System

If you’d like to present a professional image without investing in a traditional in-office phone system, Grasshopper should be your first option. Grasshopper’s low-cost pricing plans include unlimited minutes, which is one of several reasons it is the market leader in virtual phone systems. Other reasons include its ease of use and extensive call routing—a feature that makes it possible for employees to direct calls to any phone at any time. 

As Grasshopper is a non-fixed VoIP provider, you do not need any desk phones or other equipment to use the service. Grasshopper connects with mobile and home phones rather than traditional office phones as most other office phone systems do. 

When customers or clients call, the automated attendant answers the call and forwards it to the right department or employee. You can designate the phone numbers to which you want your calls forwarded, including a mobile phone, home phone, or any other phone you choose. 

You get total control over how calls are routed to you. You can choose the numbers to which you want your calls sent (you can choose up to 15 numbers), in what order you would like those numbers to be rung, how many rings should be allowed for each number before switching to the next one, as well as when calls should be forwarded to you (you can choose not to take calls on weekends, for example).

Grasshopper gives remote employees several tools and features that many traditional office phone systems provide such as automated attendants, call screening, a name directory, hold music, voicemail transcription, voicemail-to-email, online faxing, and text messaging.

The mobile apps for Android and iOS allow employees to receive calls, check voicemail, see faxes and call history, view push notifications for missed calls and messages, and change call-forwarding options. Plus, iOS users can sign faxes and PDF email attachments on their phones. 

The desktop app features a softphone through which you can make and receive calls on and text messages. Finally, customer support is available via phone 24/7, and you can use an online form to request help. The website features guides that walk you through every aspect of the platform. 

Pricing

Grasshopper Pricing Plan

Grasshopper offers three plans, all including all the above-listed features and unlimited minutes. The main difference is the number of phone numbers and extensions included in the plans. 

Prices range from $29 to $89 monthly, and you can save up to 10% if you opt for annual billing. There are no contracts, and you get a 30-day money-back guarantee when you purchase any plan. 

Pros

  • The platform requires no equipment or desk phones
  • Calls are forwarded to your home or mobile phone.

Cons

  • Since Grasshopper does not offer a traditional phone system, you’ll need to change providers if you ever come to need one.

5. Ringblaze

Powerful Office Phone System for Optimizing Sales and Customer Support.

Ringblaze is a Powerful Office Phone System for Optimizing Sales and Customer Support

Ringblaze is a powerful office phone system that improves sales and customer support collaboration. Ringblaze allows you to talk with your customers in real-time as they browse your website. This is useful as guests are less likely to take action on your site if they have questions that they can’t find appropriate answers to. 

The system is cloud-based and so getting started is easy—you can complete the entire signup ad setup process in as little as 15 minutes. With the widget installed on your site, customers only have to click on the phone icon to connect with you and your team instantly. 

All call records are stored in the shared company callbox. You can assign calls to specific associates and team members, and if all lines are busy, customers can leave a message that you can listen to later. 

In the ‘Assigned’ tab, associates can view calls that have been assigned to them, make notes after following up, and mark issues as resolved. Sales and customer service teams can also view who they’ve followed up with and who they haven’t reached out to on an intuitive dashboard.

If you want a high-level summary of your past calls, you can click over to the ‘Customers’ tab on the dashboard and see every lead and customer who has called using the Ringblaze widget. 

It is also easy to collaborate—even across time zones—to resolve issues with Ringblaze. Ringblaze achieves this by allowing team members to leave notes on calls and tag other associates in comments when they need assistance. 

Pricing

Ringblaze Pricing Plan

Ringblaze costs $19 monthly per user after a free trial, and that’s it. You do get to save up to 20% by choosing annual billing, effectively paying $15 monthly. 

Pros

  • Ringblaze offers simple pricing with just one plan

Cons

  • There are no mobile apps provided.

6. GoToConnect

Best Full-Featured Office Phone System.

GoToConnect is the Best Full Featured Office Phone System

It will be a ridiculously difficult task to find another business phone system that offers as many features and tools as GoToConnect does. This cloud-based unified communications system comes packed with over 100 calling, mobile, collaboration, and mobile tools, features, and integrations

GoToConnect features over 70 calling features alone, including call history, Do Not Disturb, dial by extension or directory, custom hold music, call routing, call screening, ring groups, and paging. There are also several options for voicemail such as visual voicemail, voicemail-to-email, and virtual voicemail.

Being cloud-hosted, no special equipment or installation is required. The platform is set up and controlled entirely from an online portal. And users can make and receive calls from anywhere using their computers, desk phones, or mobile devices. 

The platform offers integrations with many popular programs that you might be using such as Salesforce, Google Workspace, Microsoft Office 365, Slack, and Zoho.

Pricing

GoToConnect Pricing Plan

GoToConnect offers three plans: Basic, Standard, and Premium. 

The Basic Plan costs $22 to $24 monthly per user, with a limit of 20 users. It includes one call queue, ring group, and auto attendant, as well as Find Me and Follow Me, audio conferencing, and team messaging. Plus, you also get video conferencing with support for four participants and 40-minute sessions. 

The Standard Plan costs $23 to $29 monthly per user with no limits on the number of users. You get unlimited call queues, ring groups, and auto attendants, as well as hot desking, call recording, caller analytics, and voicemail-to-email. Conferences can be any length and can host up to 150 participants, but only 25 participants can have their cameras on at a time. 

The Premium Plan starts at $39 monthly per user and includes everything in the standard plan plus customer center services such as real-time views for supervisors, inbound and outbound call monitoring, queues call barge, and real-time queue summaries. Video conferences can host up to 250 attendees. 

Pros 

  • Team messaging, audio conferencing, and video conferencing are included in all the plans. 
  • The platform is cloud-based.

Cons

  • For extensive call center services, you need to work with a separate provider and partner of GoToConnect’s, inContact.

7. Nextiva

Best Office Phone System + CRM. 

Nextiva is the Best Office Phone System and others offer built in integrations to CRM

Nextiva differs from other business phone system providers in that it offers its version of a CRM where others offer built-in integrations to CRMs. In other words, Nextiva is a cloud-based unified communications system that comes with an inbuilt CRM. This setup hugely benefits businesses looking to reduce the number of business applications they use.

Nextiva is first a top-of-the-line office phone system. Being hosted in the cloud, set up and deployment is simple and straightforward. It provides an intuitive online portal and offers all the features and tools that any business of any size would need in a communications system.

Its comprehensive service plans include unlimited local and long-distance calling, automated attendants, voicemail-to-text, voicemail-to-email, online faxing, and HD voice and video. The system also uses artificial intelligence to automate tasks and analyze calls to foster productive conversations and proffer solutions to problems. 

Nextiva’s video conferencing tools can host up to 250 participants in a single meeting. It also has conference call bridges that allow calls with unlimited attendees, unlimited SMS messages, and team messaging. 

With a 99.999% uptime, the service is extremely reliable as downtime is limited to just a few minutes per year. This is achieved by its eight points of presence and data centers that ensure that calls keep going through even if one of the facilities breaks down. 

The built-in CRM allows businesses to tie all of their customer communication to one platform. The Sales Pipeline CRM database comes with account management, customer experience scoring, trend analysis, call popups, real-time data, click-to-dial, call history, customer journey mapping, and integrated business analytics. 

But if you prefer a different CRM, Nextiva also offers seamless integrations with all the big names in CRM software like HubSpot, Salesforce, Oracle Sales Cloud, Zoho, and SugarCRM. 

Customer support is available by phone from 5 am to 6 pm (MT) on weekdays and 6 am to 6 pm on Saturdays and Sundays. 

Pricing

Nextiva Pricing Plan

Nextiva’s four service plans, Essential, Professional, Enterprise, and Ultimate, vary in both features and price. The price you pay depends on how many users you want to have on the system, if you choose to prepay for the service, and what contract length you commit to (there are 12-, 24-, and 36-month contracts). 

As users and contract length go up, prices go down. You also get lower prices if you prepay for the full length of the contract. Prices range from $18.95 to $65.95 per user for 20 to 99 users. 

The CRM may be purchased separately with any plan or you can opt for the Ultimate Plan which comes with the CRM included. 

Pros

  • Nextiva is VoIP phone service, help desk software, and CRM all rolled into one.
  • The platform is cloud-hosted and offers a wide and comprehensive range of calling, productivity, collaboration, conferencing, and mobility tools and features.

Cons

  • You don’t get unlimited audio and video conferencing with the Essential Plan.

8. 8×8

Best Business Phone System for SMBs.

8x8 is the Best Business Phone System for Small & Midum Sized Business

8×8 offers a cloud-hosted unified communications solution with features that are valuable for small businesses and excellent customer support, as well as multiple price points and unbeatable ease of use. 

All you need to get started using 8×8 is a properly configured router and adequate bandwidth to handle your call volume. It offers a lot of flexibility as you can make calls from the desktop app, the mobile app, or through traditional desk phones. 

You can also receive calls from the desktop app, as well as video chat, and check voicemail and online faxes. For those who may prefer desk phones, you can buy pre-configured, plug-and-play desk phones directly from 8×8. 

Regardless of the plan chosen, all users gain access to HD video conferencing that can host up to 100 participants at once. The service boasts a 99.999% uptime, guaranteeing uninterrupted service through its 17 data centers. 

Customer support is available 24/7 via phone, live chat, email, and via the 8×8 website, which also hosts helpful training materials.

Pricing

8x8 Pricing Plan

One thing that makes 8×8 an appealing offer for small businesses is the entry price point. For just $12 monthly per user, you can get the Express Plan. At that price point, you’d be hard-pressed to find a more robust offering. This plan also comes with a 30-day free trial. 

The X2 Plan costs $32 monthly per user, although opting for annual billing crashes the price down to $24 monthly per user. This plan includes unlimited online faxing, voicemail transcription, call analytics, and some call center features like barge, monitoring, and whisper. 

The X4 Plan costs $57 monthly per user or $44 with annual billing. It adds a 47-country unlimited calling zone and supervisor analytics to the features of the X2 Plan. 

Larger enterprises or businesses that need full call center features can opt for any of three additional plans that range from $112 to $219 monthly per user. 

Pros

  • You can host up to 100 participants at a time on audio and video conferencing
  • You can make and receive calls on your computer via the desktop app

Cons

  • The Express Plan does not provide online faxing

9. Dialpad

Best Office Phone System for Voice Intelligence.

Dialpad is the Best Office Phone System for Voice Intelligence

Built with remote and on-the-go teams in mind, Dialpad is a unified communications system designed to support calls via a mobile and desktop app from the start, rather than being built around desktop phones. Although desktop phones are still supported, Dialpad gives you access to just as much functionality from your computer or mobile device.

Dialpad truly stands out for its inbuilt voice intelligence. With artificial intelligence, the platform automatically records and studies what is being said—and by whom—during calls and provides data and insight based on that information later on. This way, callers can focus on the conversation rather than on taking notes. 

It can also generate a post-call summary, which is a transcript of your calls that can prove quite valuable as it allows you to search through calls you made in the past for reminders of what was said or agreed upon by you and your customers. This is especially valuable for sales and customer support teams. 

Whichever plan you choose, Dialpad comes with call analytics, spam detection, number forwarding, the ability to switch between devices during calls, click-to-call, number porting, and video conferencing with Dialpad’s UberConference

With the Basic UberConference Plan, you can host 10 participants in 45-minute-long meetings. To host longer meetings that can last up to five hours and contain up to 100 participants, you can upgrade to the UberConference Business Plan for $15 monthly per user. 

Dialpad also provides call center solutions and Dialpad Sell, which is a phone system designed specifically for sales teams. It includes real-time coaching and CRM integrations, and prices start at $95 monthly per user. 

Pricing

Dialpad Pricing Plan

Dialpad offers three service plans: Standard, Pro, and Enterprise. 

The Standard Plan costs $20 monthly per user (or $15 if you opt for annual billing). With this plan, you get unlimited calls and SMSs, custom voicemail greeting, integrations to Google Workspace and Office 365, custom off-hours routing, voicemail transcription, and call controls. 

The Pro Plan costs $30 monthly per user (or $25 if you opt for annual billing). You get everything in the Standard Plan plus Salesforce integration, API and webhooks support, 24/7 customer support, and local number support in over 50 countries.

The Enterprise Plan is quote-based and features everything in the Pro Plan plus SSO, SLAs, and integration with Okta. 

Pros

  • Dialpad is built with a focus on desktop and mobile apps 
  • The advanced voice intelligence feature is revolutionary

Cons

  • Video conferencing is limited to 45 minutes and 10 participants. You need to pay separately for the Business Plan of UberConference to get more.

10. Vonage

Best Office Phone System for Microsoft Teams Integration.

Vonage is the Best Office Phone System for Microsoft Teams Integration

Vonage is a unified communications system that combines reliability with an unbeatable tool- and feature set that businesses of any size will find useful. Businesses that prefer video conferencing on Microsoft Teams will find the inbuilt integration with Microsoft Teams especially valuable. 

Designed with direct routing integration that gives you and your team full access to Vonage directly from MS Teams, you don’t have to toggle between applications to use both services. This is great if you want to keep all your communications within Microsoft Teams but also want to take advantage of Vonage’s extensive feature set. 

Vonage features over 50 features and tools that include voicemail-to-email, paging groups, call queues, a 30-participant call bridge, click-to-dial, call screening, call monitoring, and call flip, among others. 

With a 99.999% uptime, Vonage’s service is extremely reliable. There are several inbuilt fail-safes with cloud backup that help minimize call static, data loss, and call drops. 

You can contact customer support by phone any time between 8 am and 12 am (ET) on Mondays through Fridays. And you can contact them from 9 am to 9 pm (ET) on the weekends. Emergency support is also available after hours. 

Pricing

Vonage Pricing Plan

Vonage is available in three pricing plans: Mobile, Premium, and Advanced. Pricing depends on how many users you have. And the more users you have, the lower the cost per user. 

The Mobile Plan is built for businesses with on-the-go employees or remote teams. With this plan, you get unlimited calling, team messaging, and SMS, as well as access to a wide range of integrations via the Vonage App Center. It costs $14.99 to $19.99 monthly per user. It works via mobile and desktop apps. 

The Premium Plan is the most popular and includes a multilevel auto-attendant, unlimited conferencing for as many as 100 participants, and integrations with innumerable popular platforms. It costs $24.99 to $29.99 monthly per user and works just as well with IP phones as with mobile and desktop apps.

The Advanced Plan includes all of Vonage’s features and costs $34.99 to $39.99 per user. Plus, Vonage will set up the system for you themselves. 

Businesses with more than 100 employees will have to contact the vendor for a quote. 

Pros

  • The seamless integration with Microsoft Teams allows you to access your phone system right from Teams.
  • The 99.999% uptime makes the service particularly reliable. 

Cons

  • The cheapest plan does not offer compatibility with desktop phones.

11. Avaya

Cloud-hosted Unified Communications System for Businesses of All Sizes.

Avaya is a Cloud hosted Unified Communications System for Businesses of All Sizes

Avaya is a cloud-based unified communications system that offers service to both small and large businesses. It offers a wide array of calling, collaboration, and mobile tools through its two main platforms, Avaya IX Workplace and Avaya Cloud Office. It also offers a complete call center solution. 

Avaya IX Workplace features tools such as virtual receptionists, the ability to put calls on hold, call parking, Do-not-disturb, after-hours service, call recording, online faxing, instant messaging, ring and hunt groups, extension dialing, call forwarding, and caller ID.

Businesses in search of a unified communications system will find the several collaborative features useful. These features include instant messaging, direct video calling, and a meeting space that allows real-time communication between employees via chat, voice, or video. 

You and your team can connect to the system from a wide range of devices besides your desk phones. You can connect via Android and iOS mobile devices, as well as Windows and Mac computers.

If you’d like to tack on contact services to your system, you have access to a wide range of added features that include call routing, quality management and coaching tools, IVRs, and call center reporting. 

Avaya Cloud Office offers many similar features and tools. With all of the plans, you get unlimited SMS messaging, team messaging, unlimited calling, document sharing, voicemail-to-text, and 24/7 support. 

In upgraded plans, you get advanced features such as online faxing, automatic call recording, and integrations with Office 365, Salesforce, and G Suite. You can host up to 200 participants in video conferences. And the conference calling bridge can support up to 1,000 participants at once. 

Pricing

Avaya Pricing Plan

Avaya Cloud Office is available in four plans: Essential, Standard, Premium, and Ultimate. Each plan varies by features and the prices depend on whether you opt for annual or monthly billing. The prices range from $19.99 to $59.99 monthly per user

Similarly, Avaya IX Workplace is available in three service plans that vary by price and features: Essential, Business, and Power. Prices range from $24.95 to $34.95 monthly per user. 

Pros

  • Avaya offers preconfigured, plug-and-play phones.
  • You can opt to host Avaya IX Workplace in the public or private cloud, or a hybrid of both. This means you can get the level of security you desire.

Cons

  • Avaya’s customer service can be disappointing.

What is VoIP?

VoIP stands for Voice over Internet Protocol. It describes a method by which you can place and receive calls over the internet. It is run on a high-speed internet connection—pretty much the same one used by most businesses—rather than copper telephone wires like landlines do. As such, VoIP is generally considered an alternative to your local telephone company.

VoIP uses the Internet Protocol, which is a system by which computers and devices communicate with one another on the internet. When you dial a phone number, your IP phone tells your VoIP provider to call that number. 

On establishing the call, your VoIP provider exchanges data packets from your IP phone—your voice is converted into a data packet that travels through the internet as a photo or email would. These packets move between your phone and VoIP provider. 

Your IP phone then converts the packets it receives from your VoIP provider back into the sound that you hear. 

This might sound like a lengthy process but the data packets exchanged between your IP and VoIP service provider can move around the world in under a second

How VOIP Works
Source: Xinix

VoIP can be installed on-premises or hosted on the cloud—either a private or public cloud. On-premises installations require that your IT team handle the sourcing, upkeep, maintenance, and upgrade of the system. 

The necessary equipment is installed and hosted on your business premises, usually in your server closet. On-premises VoIP gives you total control of the system and tighter security since all your data is kept away from the cloud and hosted on your property. 

Cloud-hosted VoIP, on the other hand, is hosted in the cloud by your service provider. They handle all maintenance and upgrades, and the only equipment you need is the phones themselves. 

This option is very popular with small businesses, especially since cloud-hosted systems are essentially plug-and-play. This simplicity means that you pay less upfront to set up the system. It also means that you do not need to hire a full IT team to maintain and upgrade the system as necessary.

How Office Phone Systems Benefit Your Customers

There are several ways in which office phone systems can benefit your customer. We’ll explore just five of them below.

1. Never Miss a Customer Call

With business phone systems, it’s easy to ensure that you never miss a customer call. Most office phone systems come with voicemail capability and other functionalities by which the system can receive calls on your behalf.

So, even if there’s a connection problem at your physical office, you just can’t get to the phone at that moment, or your employees are currently unavailable to take a call, you can set up your phone system to allow your customers to leave a message. 

You can even set up call redirects to reroute calls to mobile devices or alternative office sites at certain times of the day.

2. Improved Mobility and Flexibility

The mobility and flexibility offered by business phone systems mean that your employees no longer need to remain chained to their desks to answer customer calls. 

Instead, they can take calls anywhere they can sign in to your phone service—from their mobile phones, from home, or an alternative office location. This flexibility makes it easier to organize your office and offer 24/7 customer service.

3. Analyze and Improve the Customer Call Experience

Office phone systems often come with analytics that allows you to track how many calls you receive at specific times of the day and how long customers spend on hold. Armed with this information, you can more effectively plan the best response to your customer demands. 

You can also identify employee training needs by tracking metrics like average call length—the longer a customer service rep spends on each call, the more likely it is that they are having a hard time solving customers’ problems.

4. Scale Your Customer Service Easily

Especially with cloud-based phone systems, scaling your customer service up or down according to your business needs is easy. At the snap of a finger, you can increase the number of calls that your phone system can handle as your business grows or dial back if business slows down for a bit. This results in cost savings for your business, and you can pass those savings on to your customers.

5. Control Your Business Costs

Studies show that businesses that switch to VoIP can secure average cost savings of 50 – 75%. These savings are bigger for small businesses than for larger businesses. 

The average saving for a business with 30 phones is around $1,200 monthly. For businesses that make a lot of international calls, switching to VoIP can cut costs by almost 90%. And you can pass these savings on to your customers.

How Office Phone Systems Impact Your Bottom Line

As your business grows, it will eventually get to the point where it outgrows your personal phone lines. You might need to hire more staff or require more advanced features for calling and collaboration. 

Whatever the case may be, upgrading to an office phone system can improve the ease of your business operations and boost your bottom line in the process. There are several ways in which upgrading to a business phone system can do this. Let’s take a look at four of them.

1. Stay Connected at All Times and All Places

These days, business doesn’t happen solely at your desk. It happens everywhere: at home, out of the office, or from 5,000 miles on the other side of the world. Business phone systems allow you to stay connected no matter where you find yourself, without worrying about hardware. 

No matter where your business takes you, you can access the same tools and features that you’re familiar with. Business phone systems also offer the flexibility that comes with conference calling, seamless call forwarding, and collaboration tools that help your team stay on the same page at all times.

2. Save Time and Money

Office phone systems—especially cloud-based systems—are easy to set up, inexpensive, off-site, and more flexible and affordable than PBX systems or your personal phone lines. They require minimal specialized support and ongoing maintenance, saving your business time and money. They also grow with your business as adding more capacity is as simple as flicking a figurative switch.

3. Project a Professional Image

It’s harder to look and act like a professional while operating your business from personal phone lines. And a business phone system can help with that. You can seamlessly route calls to the right people, use professional-level voicemail and call notifications to track your customers’ needs, and set up automated assistants. 

Even as a one-person army, you can project success by using business phone systems. Features such as hold music, call flipping (such as from a desktop phone to a mobile phone), and call transfers to other extensions can help you offer a top-notch, flexible customer experience that oozes professionalism.

4. A One-Stop Solution for All Your Business Communication Needs

One benefit of business phone systems is that they consolidate all your business communications, thereby saving you a lot of money. Instead of having one tool for text communication, another for collaboration, another for video conferencing, another for online faxing, and yet another for file sharing, a business phone system can offer you all of these features and lots more. 

By having all of these features in a single tool rather than spread across several tools, you can not only simplify your business communications but also keep costs down, thus boosting your bottom line. 

Benefits of VOIP
Source: Yeastar

How to Choose the Best VoIP Phone System

As no two businesses are alike, there can be no one-size-fits-all recommendation as to what the best VoIP service provider is. Therefore, to choose the best provider, you will need to pay attention to your particular situation and business needs.

As with everything else, having a logical process, as well as knowing what questions to ask and what features to look for can help streamline the process of choosing the right provider. Here are a few top tips, guidelines, and necessary steps to take when choosing the best VoIP system for your business.

1. Determine Exactly What You Want from Your VoIP System

If you simply replace your old analog phone system with a VoIP system just for the heck of it, you could very well lose many of the advantages of having a VoIP system. 

You need to take some time to determine exactly what your needs are and what you want the system to do for you. Some understanding of what VoIP is and its capabilities comes in handy here. 

Before settling on a service, you should take some time to look at the features and tools it provides. Does it provide all the tools and features you need from your phone system? You should consider what each service has on offer and how it can be incorporated into your business.

2. Determine What Type of Phones You Would Like to Use with the VoIP System

There are a few options to consider here:

  • Traditional handset: This is essentially a VoIP version of a traditional analog phone. But they are far more sophisticated and offer a variety of modern capabilities. That said, they are more expensive than the old analog phones and this cost may be a barrier. 
  • Computer-based phone: These make it possible to use a computer as a phone by employing an application installed on the computer. The only hardware necessary to use this system is a headset with a microphone. This kind of setup facilitates screen sharing during conference calls and other similar capabilities. And it keeps the cost of the system down by reducing how much you need to spend on hardware. 
  • Smartphone: Similar to computer-based phones, this setup uses your regular smartphone as hardware through an application installed on the device. This is an ideal setup for teams that need to stay connected and mobile. 

3. Consider the Feature Set of Your Prospective VoIP Providers’ Offerings

VoIP services often provide a range of basic features that may include caller ID, call waiting, voicemail, 3-way calling, and conference calls. But they also provide a diverse range of advanced features beyond these basics. You need to know if your providers offer those advanced features that can help your business grow

For example, providers generally have limits on how many participants you can have in a conference meeting. You need to take a look at these limits and decide if they work for your business. 

Essential Business Phone Features
Source: Wired TelCom

4. Consider Your Budget and the Cost Structure of the VoIP Provider

In buying any product or service, cost cannot be ignored. As such, it is one of the key considerations to make when choosing a VoIP provider. You need to not only consider the basic cost of the service but also how it works out in the long term

While you’ll want to ensure that you get as much value for your money as possible, you’ll also want to strike a balance between cost and quality. After all, quality is remembered long after price is forgotten. There’s no point in choosing a cheaper system if it is unreliable or has poor customer support for when issues inevitably arise.

5. Consider Service Quality and Reliability

Whatever VoIP service you choose, it must be able to perform up to expectations. If you spend a lot of time communicating with clients or team members, you’ll want remarkable service and top-notch reliability.

That being said, understand that quality issues may not be the fault of your VoIP provider but of your broadband connection. It is important to have a good quality high-speed internet connection and sufficient bandwidth to get the most out of your VoIP phone system. This is especially key if you will have a lot of people video-conferencing at the same time. Your provider might be able to advise on this.

6. Evaluate the Customer Support

With any human system, issues are bound to arise at some point. It is, therefore, necessary to have all the support you need when issues arise so that they can be dealt with swiftly and decisively. 

As most businesses rely to a large extent on phone systems to ensure that everything moves swiftly and according to plan, access to customer support whenever you need it is key. Consider your customer support needs and then ensure that your chosen provider offers this.

7. Check for Availability of Local Area Codes

Often, VoIP systems may use dialing cues that aren’t linked to a local area. While this may not always be an issue, it could present problems for area-based businesses and domestic use. 

Callers may be charged long-distance rates if they call from an analog phone. And for local businesses, a local code may seem more approachable. Therefore, you should check that your provider offers local area codes if you need them

If you take the time to choose the right system for your business, VoIP can offer some great benefits. As VoIP is software-based, improvements in the technology can be delivered to you by a simple software upgrade.

How Do I Set Up My Office Phone System? 

To set up a VoIP system, you’ll need a wired ethernet router, cables, handsets, headsets, VoIP software, a broadband internet connection, and a VoIP provider. There are two main options when it comes to VoIP: hardphones and softphones

Hardphones are similar to traditional landline phones as they come with a base and a headset. Softphones, on the other hand, are installed entirely on your computer or smartphone. The setup differs for each type of system. 

For hardphones, you’ll need a PBX server. You must remember that hardphone VoIP systems need to connect to a network. This can be achieved through a standard Network Interface Card (NIC). The system must also have a fixed IP address so that it is always reachable. In other words, the network cannot be shared with any other system. 

To set up the actual phones, you simply use the ethernet cables to connect the phones to the same network as the PBX. But if you have phones that have Power over Ether (PoE) technology, skip this step. 

With the hardware setup now complete, install the VoIP software now. In most cases, this process is easy and self-explanatory. Once you start the installation process, the computer usually takes over and you only have to hit ‘start or ‘open’ at the end. 

To make sure that your VoIP phone system is fully compatible, adjust the configuration of your ethernet router by either permitting Universal Plug and Play (UPnP) or permitting Network Address Translation (NAT). 

Setting up softphones is simpler and more straightforward since you don’t have to hook up any VoIP phones. Instead, you’ll be making calls from your smartphone, tablet, or computer. Once you install the software, it will search for any devices connected to that system.

Office Phone System FAQ

How does an office phone system work?

Although the exact working mechanism of a business phone system varies by type, the basic principle is the same. 

Each user of the system gets either a dedicated phone number or an extension. When anyone calls that number, their phone—either their office phone or any other device they have their calls forwarded to—will ring.

How much does an office phone system cost?

While there is no cookie-cutter pricing available for office phone systems, the following information is intended to give you a ballpark estimate of how much a basic office phone system may cost. In other words, you still need to speak with a professional advisor who will determine your needs and make recommendations based on those needs. 

Depending on how many add-on services you choose, a low-end system may cost around $200 per handset, a name-brand system will cost anywhere between $400 – $600 per handset, and a top-of-the-line name brand system with all the bells and whistles may cost as much as $1,000 per handset.

Is VoIP cheaper than a landline?

Generally speaking, VoIP phone systems are significantly cheaper than landlines. They can cost as little as $20 per line while traditional PBX (Private Branch Exchange) phone systems can cost anywhere between $200 – $1,000 per user. 

This price discrepancy is because VoIP uses an existing internet connection while landlines require the installation of additional hardware or a separate system.

Upgrade Your Phone System

The office phone system you choose ultimately comes down to your business needs and budget. 

By defining your needs and wants, determining your required features and budget, evaluating the quality of the service, and ensuring that the options available to you offer top-notch customer support, choosing an office phone system should be much easier for you. 

Here’s a recap of our top recommendations:

  • If collaboration is important to you, you should choose RingCentral.
  • The best business phone system for SMBs is 8×8.
  • For the best integration with CRMs, choose Nextiva.
  • If you want a system with all the bells and whistles, look no further than GoToConnect.
  • Grasshopper offers the best virtual business phone system, in our estimation. 
  • And for call centers that need a cloud-based solution, CloudTalk should be your go-to.
Written by
Martin Luenendonk
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