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the best virtual phone system for small business

virtual phone system
Posted on Oct 11, 2021

 

 

Business phone systems no longer serve as a tool for making and receiving calls. The best-unified communications systems allow employees to communicate by phone, video, and text, which gives businesses the flexibility to connect with customers and clients in any way they prefer. To help you choose the solution that best suits you, we analyzed more than 75 providers, looking at factors such as price, ease of use, and features and tools. Our best picks are below, and a comprehensive list of phone systems and unified communications providers if our choices don’t fit your needs.

virtual phone system

Why and When You Need a Business Phone Service?

The three main factors to consider when choosing a business phone system are your current and future needs, the size of your business, and how much you’re willing to spend.

 

best virtual phone system for small business reviews

If you need a system with an emphasis on analytics—one that includes reporting tools and call monitoring abilities—you’ll want a cloud-based service. This can be particularly important if you’re a marketing agency, as it allows you to keep tabs on the calls your sales team fields and have the metrics at their fingertips when they report to upper management.

Additionally, suppose you have a lot of employees or remote workers. In that case, a hosted solution offers the ability to add users remotely, make changes to your plan, and manage everything all in one place without having to purchase new hardware or software.

You can also take advantage of other cloud-based services—what’s known as unified communications—that enhance the phone service with features like video conferencing, text messaging, email, or collaboration tools. Having access to these resources through your PBX boosts productivity and can give your company a leg up when looking for new customers.

For large enterprises, on the other hand, an on-premises system is likely to serve their needs better as it offers more customization options and integration with existing apps and tools. And if you rely on Cisco hardware or software, it’s worth looking for a service that offers these tools or at least ensures compatibility.

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On-premises systems are more challenging to scale than their cloud-based counterparts. Still, some on-site services offer an option known as “bursting,” which can help you boost capacity when you’re receiving heavy call traffic without requiring the purchase of additional physical servers.

A hosted solution also gives you the flexibility to add and subtract users as your business grows. At the same time, on-premises systems may be less affordable for new companies or require a longer negotiation process.

In addition, cloud solutions typically have a pay-as-you-go model that makes it easier to scale your business when call volume increases without purchasing additional hardware or software licenses. And while some on-site systems do offer a pay-as-you-go model, they’re typically more expensive than their hosted counterparts.

The size of your business can also affect which phone system is best for you. Suppose your company doesn’t have many employees (or you want to limit communication between those with phones). In that case, a SIP trunking service might be preferable as it’s less expensive than other hosted and on-site solutions. However, if you exceed the number of available users, you may incur additional costs, so go over your anticipated call volume with your provider before choosing a solution.

The cost of your service can vary significantly depending on the number of lines you require, how many users are attached to those lines, whether you need additional features like voicemail or call forwarding. The type of technology the PBX uses—an IP-PBX is typically more expensive than a cloud-based solution.

How can I choose the right phone system?

The three main factors to consider when choosing a business phone system are your current and future needs, the size of your business, and how much you’re willing to spend.

If you need a system with an emphasis on analytics—one that includes reporting tools and call monitoring abilities—you’ll want a cloud-based service. This can be particularly important if you’re a marketing agency, as it allows you to keep tabs on the calls your sales team fields and have the metrics at their fingertips when they report to upper management.

Additionally, suppose you have a lot of employees or remote workers. In that case, a hosted solution offers the ability to add users remotely, make changes to your plan, and manage everything all in one place without having to purchase new hardware or software.

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For businesses that want a phone system with more customization options, an on-premises system is preferable. It offers more integration options and can be better tailored to your specific business needs, but it also requires you to have the physical space for the equipment—and the staff to maintain it.

These systems can be expensive, and if your business is in the early stages and you don’t anticipate a significant call volume, it may make more sense to go with a hosted or SIP trunking solution until you know your needs.

What features should I look for in a phone system?

You’ll want to choose a phone system that offers all the features you need to run your business smoothly.

For example, if your staff is remote, be sure to look for a solution that allows employees who work from home to connect with those in the office seamlessly. Look for one with easy-to-use video conferencing capabilities, so workers can communicate effectively with those who aren’t in the exact location.

If your company has a customer service department, you’ll want to find a phone system with call recording capabilities so all interactions with customers can be logged accurately. A system that offers voice-to-text transcription services is also helpful for large teams of employees who field daily calls from customers and those who take a lot of notes during meetings.

How can I determine which phone system is best for my business?

You’ll want to consider your unique needs when choosing between hosted, on-site, or SIP trunking solutions. If you need additional features like analytics and call recording, select a solution that offers these extra features or one that integrates with third-party providers for them. On the other hand, if you’re looking to keep costs low, choose a solution that’s most cost-effective—and offers all the features you need.

 

FAQ section

 

What are SIP trunks?

SIP is a “session initiated protocol,” which initiates a data session between two or more points.

 

When a company utilizes SIP trunks, it can set up this connection between its PBX and an Internet service provider (ISP). The PBX has to request the ISP through a trunk line for the phone system to work correctly. Once that trunk is set up, the ISP will act as a phone company, and the PBX will make calls through its connection.

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What is an IP-PBX?

 

An IP-PBX system uses a private branch exchange (PBX) in conjunction with a data network operated by a telephone service provider, allowing users within a company to route calls between themselves or external numbers through their existing office internet connection rather than through the public telephone network

 

What is a PBX?

 

A private branch exchange (PBX) is a telephone system within a company that uses an integrated hardware and software system to handle internal phone calls. A PBX allows users at different locations to make calls to

 

Each other and it can connect to the public telephone network for outside access.

 

What is a hybrid PBX system?

 

A hybrid PBX system combines an IP-PBX with on-premises hardware, such as phones and PSTN trunks [3]. A hybrid PBX system allows users to make calls over an internet connection or a conventional phone line. Companies that choose this system save money by eliminating the need for an on-premises server, which allows them to avoid spending money on IT support staff.

 

What is PBX tarrifing?

 

Tarriffing refers to the price structure of telephone services, especially international calls. Tariffs are used to regulate the amount of revenue received by companies that run phone calls over their network.

 

What is ALI?

 

ALI stands for Automatic Location Identification, a feature on PBXs that identifies where the call originated—providing information about location and service codes for billing or routing purposes. For example, an office may have multiple numbers for different departments but automatically route the call to a specific department if it’s originated from their number.

 

What is an IP-PBX?

 

An IP-PBX system uses a private branch exchange (PBX) in conjunction with a data network operated by a telephone service provider, allowing users within a company to route calls between themselves or external numbers through their existing office internet connection rather than through the public telephone network

 

What is a hybrid PBX system?

 

A hybrid PBX system combines an IP-PBX with on-premises hardware, such as phones and PSTN trunks. A hybrid PBX system allows users to make calls over an internet connection or a conventional phone line. Companies that choose this system save money by eliminating the need for an on-premises server, which allows them to avoid spending money on IT support staff.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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