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Compare Small Business VoIP and Phone Systems

This page is managed by
Daniel Harris, Market Research Associate
Last updated: December 8, 2014

Top 10 Most Reviewed Small Business VoIP and Phone Systems Systems

 
ShoreTel Sky ShoreTel Sky is a hosted voice service that offers businesses offers phone system features, comprehensive unified communications, 3rd party application integrations and rich data mining and intelligence features.
        74 Reviews
 Price
 Demo

11

Recommendations
in the last 30 days
Jive PBX Jive's suite of unified communications solutions is an ideal choice for small businesses needing a cloud-based system. A strong support structure and proven track record make Jive Communications a great fit for a growing business.
       66 Reviews
 Price
 Demo

17

Recommendations
in the last 30 days
Five9 Virtual Call Center Five9’s Virtual Call Center provides all the functionality of an on-premise telephony system with the lower cost , flexibility and seamless integration of a platform based in the cloud.
        20 Reviews
 Price
 Demo

2

Recommendations
in the last 30 days
Nextiva Business VoIP Designed for small and growing businesses in any industry, Nextiva's award-winning VoIP business systems bring enterprise-level features and simple online management at an extremely affordable price.
        16 Reviews
 Price
 Demo

24

Recommendations
in the last 30 days
RingCentral Office RingCentral Office is a complete VoIP and PBX business phone system that brings all the basic and advanced features modern businesses require to a flexible cloud-based service with a very low upfront cost.
        5 Reviews
 Price
 Demo

4

Recommendations
in the last 30 days
 

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Virtual Office by 8x8 8x8 Virtual Office is a cloud-based phone system that integrates with a number of CRM suites and help desk solutions. It offers unified communications capabilities such as desktop sharing as well as call center features like IVR.
       0 Reviews
 Price
 Demo

21

Recommendations
in the last 30 days
Vonage Business Solutions Vonage Business Solutions offers a robust business VoIP system that can provide businesses with features such as outlook integration, call continuity, cell phone integration and local number portability (LNP).
       0 Reviews
 Price
 Demo

19

Recommendations
in the last 30 days
CorvisaOne CorvisaOne is a hosted suite of contact center applications that offers features such as IVR and ACD call routing for inbound and outbound call centers. Users can customize integrations and create apps with CorvisaCloud’s APIs.
       0 Reviews
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 Demo

7

Recommendations
in the last 30 days
ServicePattern ServicePattern stands apart for integrating not just voice, but also chat and social media into its comprehensive platform. The cloud-based service makes it easy for customers to get help through whichever channel they prefer.
       0 Reviews
PIMS Dialer PIMS Dialer delivers powerful call center functionality. It can be deployed on-premise or over the web, so it's scalable and flexible, making it a great fit for small to medium-sized businesses, with in-bound or out-bound calling.
       0 Reviews
 
 


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Buyer's Guide

Common Reasons Small Businesses Shop for a New Phone System

Many small businesses contact us every day, looking for advice as they search for a new phone system. Some are new businesses just getting started, while others are looking to replace an old or problematic system. The most common reasons they have are that they're:

  • Wanting to switch to VoIP;
  • Relocating or adding new offices;
  • Unhappy with current call quality;
  • Looking for more features, like an IVR or
  • Needing a system that’s more user-friendly.

While there’s a long list of reasons, there’s an even longer list of systems and features addressing these common challenges. However, we find most small businesses require one or more of these core phone system capabilities:

Feature Function Benefit
PBX The central component of every multi-line phone system, the PBX acts as the switchboard, transferring and routing calls. It’s also the component that lets users put callers on hold and have conference calls. It integrates most of the other features listed here. Provides commonly used functions that allow many phone extensions to share lines and work together as one system.
Auto attendant An Auto attendant greets inbound calls with basic information such as the the business’s name, location and hours, and also lets callers choose how their call will be connected. They often begin something like this: Thank you for calling Software Advice. Please choose from the following menu options... Answers and directs inbound calls. Helps small businesses present a larger, more professional image.
IVR The Interactive Voice Response feature is similar to, but more advanced than, Auto attendant. IVRs allow customers to access account information, schedule and make payments and complete other transactions requiring deeper interaction all without requiring an employee’s time. Automates many basic call transactions, freeing employees from some repetitive and time-consuming tasks.
CTI Computer-Telephone Integration is a broad term for a collection of functions offered primarily with VoIP systems. CTI allows customer-specific information from the company’s database to be automatically displayed on a computer whenever that customer is on the line. Streamlines call processing, saves employees from having to repeatedly look up basic information when customers call.
FMFM Find Me Follow Me is a feature that makes sure important calls get through to the right person, even if the right person isn’t at their desk. FMFM lets users program a sequence of alternate numbers, including external and mobile numbers, to dial in case their desk phone rings and is unanswered. Ensures important calls are always answered. Valuable in sales-focused industries, where missing a call can mean missing a sale.
Softphone Many VoIP systems include software telephones, or "softphones." These are programs that run on office computers and, when used with a headset, allow calls to be made and received directly from the computer. Reduces equipment costs by letting offices purchase fewer desk phones.
Voicemail-to-email Another feature common to VoIP systems, this is an automated transcription service. When callers leave voicemail, this service transcribes the audio to written text and sends it as an email. Saves time listening to voicemail messages.

Key Considerations for Small Businesses

System complexity. Some businesses we speak with tell us they’re replacing their existing phone system because it’s too complicated and not user-friendly. Buying an overly complex system can be as bad as buying one that has too few features. Apart from paying for features that won’t be used, advanced systems can present usability issues.

So before you begin shopping, start with a clear assessment of exactly which functions you need. Don’t get caught up in a more-functions-is-necessarily-better mindset when comparing systems. Also, take advantage of the trials and demos offered by some companies to get a firsthand feel for exactly how user-friendly a system is.

VoIP or analog? Telephony technology is split between digital phone systems, which send voice calls over the Internet (Voice over IP, or VoIP), and older analog phone systems, which use traditional phone service. Though VoIP phones can call analog phones and vice versa, and there are hybrid systems that contain components of both, it’s best for a business that’s looking to start from scratch to choose one or the other. The vast majority of businesses are choosing VoIP.

But VoIP requires a reliable broadband Internet connection. So for businesses that don’t have access to broadband, an analog system may be the only option. If you’re unclear on how the two systems differ, this Guide to VoIP compares them in easy-to-understand language.

On-premise or hosted PBX?  This isn’t a choice all businesses will face. Small analog phone systems usually come with a simple hardware PBX that’s kept on-site. And medium and large businesses often want the control of an on-site PBX, but they also have the IT budgets needed to maintain them.

Aside from these cases, most businesses should consider using an off-site or "hosted" PBX. It is an option on many small business VoIP systems and offered by many ITSPs. The big benefit with a hosted PBX is it can offer more advanced phone system functions, like auto-attendants and IVRs, without the expense of purchasing and managing an on-site hardware PBX.

Lines and extensions. With an analog phone system you might, for example, pay your telco for two or four lines to allow your business to have that many simultaneous phone calls. For that to work, you’d need a two- or four-line analog business phone system, which are some of the most common analog systems on the market.

With VoIP systems, extensions can be added by simply connecting the office’s internal computer network.

Hardware and special-use requirements. Businesses in certain industries or with unique workplace environments will have specific phone system requirements. Identifying which features are needed will help focus the search for the right phone system for your small business.

There are, for example, industry-specific systems for hotels, call centers and hospitals. Though most small businesses will not be looking for specialized industry systems, they often do have special hardware requirements. Some need wireless handsets that can operate outdoors or a long distance away from a base station. Others don’t use handsets, but instead require wireless headsets with long battery life. Knowing what’s needed before you begin will make the selection process easier.



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