Can you hear me now? That phrase is one we all utter, most frequently from mobile phones. But when it comes to small business phone services, we sometimes hear it from landlines and VOIP phones.
We have to keep up with voicemail and text messaging. What we really want is small business phone services to keep up with us, not the other way around.
In this post, we highlight best of class in small business phone services that owners will want to check out. Some of them save time, effort, money or a combination of those. Some say you can’t have all three, but you can.
Here are just a few of the many features the following small business phone service providers offer growing companies: voice-over-internet-protocol otherwise known as VOIP, voicemail, call forwarding, 3-way calling, conference calling, web conferencing, call following (no, not stalking), voicemail to text or email, voice transcription, and toll-free numbers.
We’ve updated this article as of July 2018 to remove some services that are no longer active and added some others.
List: Best Small Business Phone Services
Nextiva is a powerful small business phone system. You can get toll-free numbers and an auto attendant to answer calls 24/7 along with many other features. There’s a fantastic app for audio and video calls and chats. You can also purchase phonesets for a full voice-over-internet-protocol (VOIP) phone system. Nextiva is really unified communications, bringing voice and other forms of communication together. For example, voicemails can be sent as an audio file to your email, for ease of checking messages especially when traveling. Feature We Like: its product leadership — Nextiva has a broad feature set and the company keeps expanding it adding business analytics, a CRM platform and more. You also get a dedicated account representative for great service.
Grasshopper became known by positioning itself as the professional, but very hip virtual small business phone service. Grasshopper is a “virtual phone system” meaning that you can get phone numbers, voicemail, call forwarding, etc. independent of phone hardware. This is great for branding and to make your phone help make your small business presence look big. Originally a fun startup in the Boston area, the company was purchased by IT giant Citrix back in 2015. It has 350,000 customers today. No free trial, but offers a 30-day money back guarantee. Feature We Like: Faxes emailed as PDFs.
RingCentral is a full VOIP service aimed at small business. RingCentral started as a bootstrapped startup. After investment by Cisco it completed an IPO in 2013 and is a publicly traded company (NYSE:RNG). In addition to VOIP, RingCentral offers a virtual PBX, voicemail and more. You can get unlimited phone and fax using an app or via hardware you purchase from RingCentral. Currently it offers a 15-day free trial for new subscribers. Feature We Like: Flexible answering rules so you can specify hours and days that work for your company and employees.
Phone.com is a VOIP phone service and virtual cloud phone offering. In addition to having a great domain name, the company keeps its site and offering well organized. It has one of the easiest-to-read list of features we’ve seen. Be careful navigating the pricing table — the default pricing limits the number of minutes per month per plan. Unlimited minutes are extra, so be sure to check the pricing carefully to avoid surprises, as unlimited minutes jack up the price. No free trial, but a 30-day guarantee. Plans start at $9.99/month paid annually for the entry level plan. Feature We Like: Click to Call option with buttons for the web or email signature.
Freedom 800 is a virtual phone system in the cloud. This small business phone service has a user-friendly website with instant number activation and a 30-day free trial. Then plans start at $9.95/month for limited minutes. This service is not as full-featured as some of the others. But if you are a startup looking for a bare bones virtual phone system at low prices, this might be a good place to start. Feature We Like: Availability Scheduling. You can specify the times when you want calls forwarded, or not.
Line2 is a small business phone service formerly known as Toktumi. It is a virtual phone system you can use with a computer, tablet or mobile phone. The company’s website seems to position this service for entrepreneurs who want to quickly add a business phone line to separate their business communications from personal (hence the name “line 2”). With rock bottom prices, and a streamlined feature set, it’s ideal for startups, entrepreneurs running side businesses, online entrepreneurs, and workers in the gig economy. There is a 7-day free trial. Feature We Like: A widget to get texts directly from people visiting your website — even included in the lowest plan.
Skype is the original “disruptor” that showed the world a different way to stay in touch, founded in 2003. It offers a way to communicate via text, voice and video using a computer. Skype lacks the sophisticated features of a small business phone system. While it is good for making and receiving calls and chat messages, it doesn’t have an automated attendant, true voicemail, and other features small businesses need to manage their phone presence. Today Skype is owned by Microsoft and goes through frequent updates – not always received positively. Skype is free, but a few features, such as calling to and from mobile or landline phones, require a subscription. Feature We Like: Skype has 300 million active monthly users (reported in 2016). Many entrepreneurs and freelancers use Skype. That means trying to reach someone through Skype for business is relatively easy because chances are they already use it.
Ooma is a “smart communications platform” for businesses and consumers. A publicly traded company (NYSE:OOMA), it offers small business phone services for $19.95 per user per month currently. The plan comes with unlimited calling in North America and Puerto Rico. No contracts are required. Oooma offers VOIP phone and conference hardware which are an additional one-time cost. Feature We Like: HD voice quality.
Evoice is a virtual small business phone service that says you can “Add an Extra Phone Line to Your Mobile Phone for Business Calls.” This service offers an automated attendant to answer calls, voicemail to text, toll free numbers, music on hold, and call routing (follow me type of feature). It’s essentially what you would expect of a virtual phone system. There is a 30-day free trial. Feature We Like: Integrates a live receptionist answering service option for those who need it (extra charge).
Vonage originally was known for its residential consumer offering that disrupted the telecom landline marketplace. However, Vonage also offers a small business phone service. Vonage is a publicly traded company (NYSE:VG) and according to recent investor presentations, their growth focus seems to be on midsize and enterprise businesses, with less emphasis on small business customers. Feature We Like: Simultaneous Ring which will simultaneously ring up to 5 other phones to reach you.
Kall8 is a little different from some others on this list of small business phone services because its primary focus is as a toll free number service. It touts itself as a way to direct and track online ad campaigns to toll free numbers. Along with it, Kall8 also offers basic phone service features such as voicemail and call forwarding. Prices start at $2.00/month per number. Vanity numbers and local numbers cost more. Add to that a per minute rate of roughly $.06 to .07 per minute. You could easily use this service to tie a Google Ad campaign to a phone number and allow you to track which ad performed best. Feature We Like: The online tools for tracking.
FreedomVoice has two main offerings: Cloud Phone (VOIP) and Cloud Number (virtual phone system). The company says it has 250,000 small business customers. They offer a 30-day free trial for Cloud Number, then $9.95/month for limited minutes. CloudPhone, which includes a VOIP phone, starts at $29.95 per month. Feature We Like: Nice guided signup on the website for both services – very clear.
8×8 is a cloud business phone system you can use with VOIP phones that 8×8 sells. 8×8 also offers apps so the team can make and receive calls on a desktop computer or mobile device. It offers the standard virtual phone features including voicemail, automated attendant, call forwarding and so on. 8×8 serves small to large businesses, but the focus seems to be larger businesses as it is pricey compared with some others on this list. Prices start at $29.95 per user per month. Feature We Like: 8×8 Academy, which is a meaty training center.
Ninja Number claims to be the world’s first artificial-intelligence powered virtual phone system. Some of the features are a bit different from competitive offerings so study them carefully. Plans start at $9.95/month for unlimited minutes. There’s also a “no credit card” free trial. Feature We Like: Offers a conversational interface to walk you through getting set up. Then the software evaluates your communication patterns and makes recommendations, including telling which calls you need to return.
Google Voice. Google seems to have a product for everything, and “virtual phone” is no exception. You get one number for voice, messages, voicemail, call routing. You use Google Voice with a computer, tablet or smartphone. Google Voice has limited features when compared with other small business phone service providers. It offers value for professionals who use Google products and want to organize voicemail and call records in an inbox interface. Do not mistake it for one of the full-fledged, small business phone services, however. For instance, if you need help you’ll have to go to a Google Forum. Feature We Like: Free U.S. based phone number. Voicemail transcription so you can read messages in your inbox.
American Voicemail offers a wide range of voicemail features, but also includes fax receiving and fax-to-email as well as a virtual phone system to manage your company’s telephone presence. Has some unusual features, such as a service that lets you send and receive text messages on landlines. Packages start at $8.95 a month, flat rate, with no per minute charges. No free trial but advertises “first month free.” Feature We Like: Automated Question and Answer Voicemail. This feature, which costs additional, asks your callers questions, one at a time, and records their answers. Great for taking surveys or phone orders.
Workeasy is focused on being voicemail for growing businesses. They also offer a toll-free virtual phone number service. No free trial, starts at $19.95/month. Note that some features that are all-included in the price of other packages (such as auto attendant greeting) have an add-on fee. So compare prices carefully. Feature We Like: Voice talent service – they’ll provide a professional to record your voice message for you. [Note: service appears to be gone.]
Voiceshot positions itself as your virtual receptionist helping to manage your calls. It offers a free trial and rates start at $12/month with limited minutes. Feature We Like: It has a group texting function (as in text messages/SMS). It also has group outbound calling (think “get out the vote” type messages – love ‘em or hate ‘em).
CallHippo is one of the small business phone service providers with a distinct international focus. It calls itself an “Intelligent Virtual Phone System.” CallHippo does a great job of telling you what you as the user can accomplish with its system (as opposed to simply telling what its technology is or does). Even its live chat starts by saying “Hey, how about setting up your phone system in less than 3 minutes?” Feature We Like: Focuses on workflow, highlighting the third party apps it integrates with. It sees phone as part of a continuum of customer processes in your company.
Neobits is a reseller of phone systems for the small to midsize business. It offers business phones from well known brands like Panasonic. The company specializes in helping design phone system solutions for specific requirements, especially in the VOIP category. Feature We Like: When you need actual phone hardware to go with your small business phone service providers, this site is a good resource and store.
VirtualPBX offers a hosted PBX service aimed at users who already have VoIP phones or want to use a low-cost VoIP service. They have a free 14-day trial and plans start at $12.99/month for limited minutes. Feature We Like: The website explains VOIP and PBX details really well, so you know what you’re getting.
Let us know in the comments if you want to suggest an addition to our list of small business phone services. We’d love to hear about it. We’ll check it out.
Don’t forget Packet8 business services. They have a virtual PBX, with real extensions, the ability to have the system forward calls to your mobile phone and actual equipment (if you want/need it). We’ve been using them for the past three years successfully with employees all over the U.S.
TJ: Great list. I am looking forward to a new mobile service starting soon, called GreenWin Network. It is the next generation of communication platform. [Full disclosure: I am an affiliate and I have banner ads on my blog in order to give my readers a way of supporting my blogging and communicating in an economical way! :)]
So, when are you going to do a training class for folks that would like to learn how to craft killer product and service reviews?
(I use Verizon. My Smartphone IS my business phone. I got rid of the land line a year ago.)
The Franchise King
I agree with Joel, TJ is great compiler of product reviews.
Joel: It is interesting to hear that you have ditched the land line. In Sweden it has become pretty common to only use mobile phones in personal and business life.
GreenWin Network will come out with a global SIM card that you could use worldwide. It will be very interesting to see the reactions on the mobile phone market…
Did you know that Skype iPhone app is blocked on some mobile phone systems?
This “Product Review” is a lot less helpful that is first appears. It amounts to little more that a list of providers, with no attempt to provide a feature-by-feature comparison, something that a “real” product review would provide. For example, which providers use a phone adapter (a la Vonage)? How many minutes do you get for the plan(s) mentions? Etc.
Great article! I kinda agree with Richard, this is more of an overview rather than an in depth review, but thats fine. Just see which service interests you the most and then go to their respective website. It’s really not that difficult.
Thank you for the great information. Do you know if any of the services you listed above allow to transfer and keep your existing land line numbers?
This is the only thing that has kept me from retirering my current provider who is a master playing BOHICA.
In my experience, many provides allow you to keep your number. Number portability is required of telecom providers in the US and I’ve successfully “ported” landline numbers to both Vonage and Packet8. I can’t speak for other providers though.
Don’t forget TollFreeFreedom.com. We have a great toll free virtual PBX with many custom options including, geo-routing (route a call based on the callers area/zip code), voicemail transcription, and coming soon: unbundled custom solutions including toll free number only, voicemail only, Google Analytics call tracking and much more.
I got Bandwidth.com service, T3 lines, and VoIP phones for my 5 locations. They send me one bill for all of them taking alot of hassle off my hands and cut my long distance charges out of the picture. Glad I made the digital switch, and if anyone else is looking check out bandwidth I’ve liked them so…for the 6 or so months I’ve had them.
I liked your article and actually used it to try out 2 or 3 of the services you reviewed. I tried eVoice first and although I like their system, I felt that the support could have been better. The second company that I tried was RingCentral, they had really good features and service, but the plan was a bit on the expensive side. I ended up using a company called Receptionist.US and have been with them for 3 months now, I switched because their plans are much cheaper and I went from paying $29.99 per month to paying $9.99 per month. Although I originally switched for price, I have been really impressed with their features and their 24/7 live support (a real person). I have also gone over my minutes in the last 2 months and they didn’t charge me anything extra. Having used 3 of the top companies, I would definitely recommend Receptionist.us, being a start-up our budget is always really tight and they definitely have the best prices.
I can’t believe comvoice isn’t up there.
I’ve been with Ringcentral AND onebox. Both had A LOT of problems I didn’t want to deal with anymore. I stumbled upon this site looking for some desks, weird lol.
Anyways I would recommend comvoice to ANYone to not deal with the BS of most phone companies for their business.
Just my 2cents.
I’m actively researching phone services for our company, and I agree with some of the others. This is an overview more than a review, doesn’t go in-depth enuff. But, it’s a good start for me, I did find it helpful, weblinks are easily accessible. Just not as informative as I’d expected and hoped.
Wow, I didn’t really know most of the services – great find, TJ!
There is yet another reputable business phone service, http://www.voiceonyx.com that works hard to see that the business receives the very best phone service just as they need it to be. Many small businesses struggle with financing in the beginning of their journey. They do not need the added stress of worrying about the service that will be provided by their phone service. They need to know that they are not going to lose business because of lost calls.
Nice list TJ. Another Virtual Receptionist phone service is All Call Technologies. We provide services for small offices and entrepreneurs. The differences are the customization and total system management. All Call Technologies has a very robust phone system with and extensive feature list and the best part is there is no programming or setup for the client to do. We will write scripts, record the greetings and program the system. With some of the companies you have listed they require the client port their phone number to them, in most cases we do not need that. The office phones and phone lines stay as is. Visit us at http://www.allcalltechnologies.com.
Check out http://www.mightycall.com, all the features of many of the small business phone solutions listed above + integrated social channels, activity queue and more.
Would like to add to more:
1) FreeJe – http://freeje.com/
2) JustVoip – https://www.justvoip.com/
Here’s another option too. A dedicated assisstant to answer all of your incoming phone calls and distribute them wherever you would like: http://www.moneypenny.com
Thanks for the great review on Phone.com, and wanted to let you know that we do offer a 30-day free trial, so that your readers can try the 40+ features that come standard with our service. Thanks again!
Informative article . I learned a lot from the specifics ! Does someone know if my company could obtain a sample IRS 990 example to fill in ?
Did this GreenWin Network you guys were talking about years ago ever come to fruition? I did a couple google searches, but only see some blogs and junk…
Great list! These are the new generation of telecommunications. We are witnessing the transition from desk phone to mobile first communications. Apps are beginning to run all business phone systems. We all have a smartphone, we are always on the go and we want to cut the cord. Another fantastic new service is Vocaly.io run by three seasoned and well know telecom insiders. My company Compati Home Healthcare uses them and it is a great service.
Well, these are the phone services which people are using in very reasonable prices and these companies offers reliable services to their users.
CallHippo is also a good option that you can include in this article. They are currently the most economical option in the market for virtual phone systems.
Awesome article, keep sharing
Apart from Skype, you may try tools like R-HUB web conferencing servers, webex, gotomeeting etc. for all your online conferencing needs. They work well.
Another option to try out is OpenPhone. We give small business owners a dedicated phone number (local or 1-800) on top of their current device with professional features to make their business look and sound great.
Our subscription includes unlimited talk, text, picture messaging, ability to share responsibility for the phone number with a partner or team, dedicated business voicemail, set business hours to direct callers to voicemail when you’re off, and much more.
Get started for free here – http://www.openphone.co
Great List. Telecom Recycle is also a very good option if someone is looking to sell his/her business phones.
Ipfone by far the best choice.
For 2019, check out magicJack for BUSINESS
Great pricing to kick start your business. Self-care portal allows you to manage all lines and services, setup attendants or virtual fax service.
I would spend a few words for our website http://www.buylocalnumbers.com
We offer instant activation of local DID Numbers and toll free Numbers in more than 60 countries.
A local DID number may be forwarded by our infrastructure to landline or mobile phones or a VOIP Provider.
We offer FREE PBX Phone System (voicemail, voice menu, fax, call recording, queue, time routing, conference calls, caller routing, playback, blacklist etc.
Number portability is supported: you can port to us your old PSTN number and carry it with you everywhere in the world.
We offer mobile numbers that are able to receive SMS. You can use them, for example, to create Whatsapp account without using your real number.
Our numbers are cheap: prices start from 2.2 USD per month
Another option is OpenPhone – you get a business phone number right on top of your cell phone with unlimited talk, text and professional features like voice to text, business hours and more. You can choose a local or toll-free number and have multiple numbers in the app.
Great post! Thanks for sharing the information and keep up the good work.
This is a comment on Nextiva, which we went to about three months ago. Please think long and hard before you use them. While we like the phone system itself, customer service and training knowledge is a nightmare. I have dealt with managers and our own sales rep that will not return calls or emails, training that is confusing and not knowledgeable of the system, different people relaying different ways to use their product, etc. It has been a nightmare from the moment we signed on the dotted line as far as their customer service.
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