You know that feeling you get when you’re shopping around for a new phone service, but you’re flooded by options that all boast about their complicated technical features, which you may not need or understand?
If you’re like lots of entrepreneurs, small business owners, and small business employees, you probably recognize that you need a good phone system for your office, but most of the options out there don’t make it easy for you to compare them. It’s information overload.
It’s like they’re deliberately trying to make their features as confusing as possible, with complicated-sounding terms like “Virtual PBX Service,” “Voice-Over-IP,” and “True ACD Queuing.”
But if you aren’t familiar with all of the technical jargon, fear not. I’m going to tell you the pros and cons of the best office phone systems so that you can decide which one is best for your business.
What Separates One Office Phone Service From Another?
When you get an office phone service, there are several things to take into account. The quality of the services can vary a lot, and you want to be sure that you get one that can handle the demands of your business.
You want to make sure that you have all the features you need for your phone system, but at the same time, you want to make sure that you aren’t overpaying for extra features that you don’t need.
Additionally, you should generally look for plans that don’t require a long-term commitment, particularly if it’s your first time trying out a certain phone system. If an office phone system requires you to commit for a year or more, that should be a red flag.
Most small businesses generally need similar features, which I describe below. If you find a service that can reliably provide the core features you need at a decent price, then you’re golden.
So which office phone systems are the best? Let’s take a look at 3 of my favorites, and see how they compare.
The Best Office Phone Systems of 2014: My Top 3
#3 Ring Central
If you want to go the budget route, Ring Central is a good option that won’t break the bank. It’s cheaper than a lot of its competitors and offers a bare-bones suite of features.
According to the reviews that I’ve read, Ring Central has good customer service, but they do suffer from some reliability issues. If you’re expecting many calls, this may be a problem. But as with all services, you get what you pay for.
Ring Central has a couple of nice features that some of its competitors don’t have. It offers outbound internet fax. If you plan to send faxes but don’t want to get a fax machine, Ring Central is a good choice.
It’s also integrated into Microsoft Outlook and Microsoft Office. This means that you can receive faxes as PDF files directly to your Outlook inbox, and you can send faxes directly from Microsoft Office. This is convenient and saves some time.
Ring Central doesn’t offer unlimited extensions, so this service is best for smaller companies that don’t need very many extensions.
Ultimately, I’d recommend Ring Central for businesses that are on a budget and don’t need an extremely robust office phone system.
#2 Virtual PBX
Virtual PBX offers a hybrid service of Voice-Over-IP (i.e. internet-based) phone calls, and traditional phone services.
What sets it apart from its competitors is that it offers True ACD queuing, unlike just about any other service in its space. This means that you can easily route calls to the next available agent.
Some other office phone systems (like my #1 choice) offer services that mimic this feature which do a pretty good job, but you might prefer to have the real deal. Virtual PBX is just better at this than its competitors.
Most of the Virtual PBX reviews that I’ve read were fairly positive, especially when it comes to the reliability of the service. The one complaint that seemed to come up was the customer service. Some customers were not happy with the length of time it took to get their problems resolved.
The price for Virtual PBX is pretty good, and it’s easily customizable depending on the size of your business. If your business grows or shrinks, you can easily adjust your Virtual PBX service accordingly.
Due to the True ACD queuing feature, I think Virtual PBX is a good choice for businesses such as call centers, which may wish to route their call to the next person available and don’t have a lot of departmental divisions.
Grasshopper is my favorite office phone system of 2014, because it has the best of both worlds: Reliable service and a good set of features that should be able to accommodate most small businesses. This is the phone service that I use for my business.
One of my favorite things about Grasshopper is how convenient it is. It doesn’t require new hardware or software like some services do. Everything that you do is in the cloud, so you can access it from any computer or smartphone.
Additionally, Grasshopper offers call forwarding to cell phones. And you can make outbound calls from your personal cell phone from your Grasshopper phone number. I love this feature, because my employees and I aren’t always in the office.
I’ve always found Grasshopper to have reliable phone service and good customer service. According to the reviews I’ve read, most customers agree.
It is slightly more expensive than Name Central, but in my opinion the extra features and reliability are worth it.
Grasshopper also allows you to have your voicemails and faxes emailed to you. If you’d rather read your voicemails than listen to them, you can have your voicemails transcribed for an extra fee.
One drawback to Grasshopper is that it doesn’t offer outbound internet faxing. You can receive faxes, but you can’t send them. Fortunately, I can usually get around this problem by scanning whatever I want to send, then emailing it to the person as a PDF file.
Grasshopper doesn’t require you to commit to a long-term contract. In fact, it doesn’t even offer yearly contracts.
Grasshopper also offers a 30-day money back guarantee, so you can give it a try without any risk. Click the link below to give Grasshopper a try and to go to the company’s official website.