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Best Cloud Phone Systems for Small Business

Category: B2B News

Cloud-based business phone systems leverage the Internet and cloud technology to facilitate communication. It is also commonly referred to as a VoIP platform or Internet-based phone system.

The biggest edge this kind of setup offers is affordability – you don’t have to come up with a sizeable investment for hardware, installation, and maintenance, all of which is taken care of by the provider. Low cost, as well as agility, is inherent in cloud computing, giving you a practical and efficient solution. Some providers even offer free plans. Below we’ll explore some of the best cloud-based phone systems for small business.

cloud phone systems

Cloud VoIP and business phone systems are ideal options for your company’s communication requirements whether for organization-wide communication with office-based and remote employees or for your call center and customer service/support unit. Cloud-based business phone systems offer features and capabilities that small businesses can clearly benefit from and take advantage of. These include:

  1. Mobility. You can run your business on the go, collaborate with your team in the field, follow up with your prospects, or answer customer queries anytime, anywhere. Your cloud telephony offers you full phone system functionality that’s always accessible from any connected device.
  2. Centralized communication. The system gives you one central hub or platform for all your communications regardless if they are phone or voice messages, fax, chat, and text messages. You also get a unified inbox for all your emails.
  3. Smart calls. Ninety percent of consumers prefer a live person at the other end of the phone over a bot. Intelligent call forwarding and routing features ensure that customer calls go to the right person or agent for fast response or resolution of issues.
  4. Teleconferencing. This feature allows you to meet, gather, and discuss with your team even if they are not physically around. This saves you, your business, and everyone else time, money, and resources.
  5. Admin portal. Most systems usually offer an administrator portal that gives managers and supervisors full control and visibility over communications, calls, messages, history, analytics, reporting, and other relevant details and information.
  6. Scalability. Unlike a physical, on-site phone system that requires you to add new hardware if you add another user, for cloud phone systems it is as simple as adding another user to your account or opening a new account. The new user gets to experience full features and functionality based on your chosen plan. In other words, the system can scale at a minimal cost.

Depending on the provider, there may be other tools and capabilities tucked into the system, and you’ll come across them as we go over the best cloud-based phone systems for small business. The benefits as shown in the graphics below are clear and small businesses can gain all of these and more with the right system.

Credits: vmokshagroup.com

The best cloud-based phone systems for small business are the ones that will work for you. How will you know that? Study its features and offerings, see if it has plans that fit your budget, and test it out yourself if it offers a free trial. If there is a free plan offered, do take that route initially to jumpstart your business then transition to a premium plan next if you need more features. There are many options out there with SMB-friendly prices and great features, and hopefully with our selection below you can narrow down your choice.

 

Best Cloud Phone Systems for Small Business

1. RingCentral

RingCentral combines all the features you need in a cloud business phone system. The award-winning platform has cloud PBX, multi-level IVR, audio and video conferencing, call recording and forwarding, team messaging, internet fax, auto-receptionist and more.

RingCentral is built to facilitate company communication and collaboration with enterprise-level capabilities at budget-friendly prices, making it an excellent cloud phone system for small businesses. It can be globally deployed and comes with capabilities for omnichannel contact centers, team messaging, integrated workflows, and analytics. It integrates with over a dozen online storage, help desk, and CRM solutions, and offers four pricing plans with subscription rates ranging from $19.99/user/month to $49/user/month.

RingCentral

This award is given to the best product in our phone systems category. It highlights its superior quality and underlines the fact that it's a leader on the market.

RingCentral won our Best Phone System of 2018

Our score
9.7
User satisfaction
99%

The vendor offers a great free trial plan. You can easily sign up for RingCentral free trial here.

Why Choose RingCentral?

  1. All-in-one phone system. Ring Central provides you flexibility and scalability whether you need a basic system or enterprise-grade capabilities. It offers single command call forwarding and recording as well as cloud PBX with all the bells and whistles such as multi-level IVR, auto-receptionist tools, role-based access control, and call monitoring, among others.
  2. Designed for collaboration. The platform is built for communication and collaboration, giving you features to maximize teamwork and productivity such as project management tools, files sharing options, and conferencing solutions.
  3. Completely mobile-ready. The system is something you can bring with you on the go to manage your business anytime, anywhere. Since it’s a cloud-based office phone system, you can access and use it from whatever connected device.

2. Freshcaller

Freshcaller is the call center solution from Freshworks, the software company with about a dozen products that are used by over 150,000 organizations around the world. Freshcaller carries the company tradition of offering professional, dependable, and affordable solutions ideal for SMBs. With the software, you get a configurable cloud PBX system that’s easy to set up and operate and is equipped with powerful conferencing and call handling capabilities. It is also able to provide you call center insights in real-time, call metrics, and contextual information. Freshcaller offers a pay-as-you-grow plan, letting you get the initial features you need to kick-start your business and add more tools as your operation expands.

You can take the product for a spin and test it out yourself when you sign up for Freshcaller free trial here.

Why Choose Freshcaller?

  1. Intelligent cloud telephony. Freshcallers’ smart and intuitive tools let you and your team efficiently manage calls to boost productivity and provide optimum service to customers. It offers phone provisioning in real time, call fail-overs, call routing, shared lines, multi-level IVR, voicemail customization, and more.
  2. Real-time dashboards. You get complete visibility over your queues, allowing you to monitor calls that are going on, track agent performance, view available agents, see call logs and recordings, and get real-time reporting and analytics.
  3. Supports for phone numbers of all type. Freshcaller supports port-in number, local number, toll-free number, or an international business number. It even offers vanity phone numbers if you want to reinforce your brand.

3. 8×8 VoIP Phone Service

8×8 VoIP Phone Service offers a solid, cloud-hosted system if you’re looking for a modern telephony solution to help you serve your customers more efficiently. The software is able to unify all your communications with a feature-filled platform that offers advanced cloud phone system, mobile support, business features, collaboration tools, and online administration and management. Among its phone system highlights are auto attendant, ring groups, directory assistance, number porting and more. Meanwhile, its collaboration tools include instant messaging, online meetings, virtual office calls, and conferencing. Pricing is by quote since packages are tailored fit to your requirements but its basic plan starts out at $19.99/user/month.

Why Choose 8×8 VoIP Phone Service?

  1. Feature-rich IP phone system. You get nearly two dozen features in your cloud phone platform that include all types of calls – forwarding, waiting, transfers, routing; caller ID and blocking; on hold; auto attendant; and much more. It offers internet fax, voicemails, group intercom paging, local and long distance service, and many other tools.
  2. Built for business collaboration. 8×8 VoIP offers robust collaboration features such as web conferencing, conference bridge, video meetings, instant messaging, contacts integration, and more.
  3. Virtual office. Unique to the system is an online virtual office, another collaborative feature, where all employee documentation can be stored, accessed and worked on. There’s also a virtual office feature for iOS and Android mobile devices.

4. Slack

Slack is a widely popular communication solution used by millions of individuals and businesses for real-time messaging, file sharing, archiving, search, and collaboration. It has voice and video call capability and integrates with over 1,500 external apps and services, making it a completely flexible and extendable platform. Designed for modern teams, you get one online hub for all your communication that you can instantly search for messages and immediately access them from any connected device. Its free plan is enough for a small team. Three premiums plans for more advanced features and enterprise capabilities are available.

Why Choose Slack?

  1. Feature-filled free plan. Cost is a major consideration for small business teams. Slack has become the platform of choice for SMBs because of its free plan that comes with several features and powerful capabilities including archiving up to 10,000 messages as well as two-person video and voice calls.
  2. Massive integration. Slack works with just about every business and productivity app and service out there, making it an all-in-one communication platform in the truest sense. With its API, you can even build your own apps and internal tools for your team.
  3. Easy to use. Just open your free account, add members of your team, and you can use the service immediately regardless if you and your team are in the office or in the field.

5. Skype

Skype is a web-based communications tool used by 5 million people daily for instant messaging, video chat, and international calls. It has been around for more than a decade and has grown to be one of the best VoIP solutions boosted by the fact that its basic plan is free. It is currently owned by tech titan Microsoft. Among its features are IM, group chat and video conferencing, video chat, and collaboration functions like image and document sharing. It lets you call actual landlines and mobile phones at affordable rates, and offers integrations with two dozen external apps and services.

Why Choose Skype?

  1. Low pricing. Skype is a free video chat and communications platform but also has affordable paid business plans, the lowest of which goes for $2 per user per month. This provides business conferencing for up to 250 people, compatibility with MS Office tools, integration with third-party business apps, and authentication and encryption features.
  2. Direct landline calls. Another budget-friendly feature is a direct call from Skype to any landline or mobile phone pegged at one cent per minute. You can choose to pay for minutes used, subscribe to plans with international calls, or opt for a $15/month plan with unlimited calls to 63 countries.
  3. Multi-platform and device capabilities. Skype is cross-platform capable and works on any device and browser, making it a truly versatile communication tool.

6. Google Hangouts

Google Hangouts combines social media and communications functionalities in one cloud platform. It is designed to help you engage with your contacts through text, voice or video chats either on a one-on-one basis or in a group. It has HD capability which allows you to do HD calls and group conferencing for up to 15 people. It also offers screen sharing options and the capability to video broadcast which is ideal for organizations that undertake online seminars and staff training. Mobile apps are available for iOS and Android devices, bringing added mobility and versatility. Google Hangouts is free for making and receiving calls and for video conferencing. It requires you to pay only $5 for 30 GB of storage, and double the amount for double the storage.

Why Choose Google Hangouts?

  1. Part of Google’s vast ecosystem. With Hangouts, you get to have the whole Google family of interconnected apps and systems working with your communication tool. And with its integration with Google Voice, Hangouts offers you the capability to call domestic phone numbers from your computing device for free.
  2. Social media platform. One advantage of Hangouts is that you and your staff get to communicate using a platform similar to social networks, complete with sharing and posting functions and backed by Google’s stringent cloud security standards.
  3. Video broadcast. For businesses that need video broadcasting, it has a Google Hangouts on Air that lets Google+ users stream video calls live via YouTube. This is an efficient and zero-cost solution for you to conduct online seminars and talk shows.

7. Viber

Viber is a mobile messaging platform that enables you to send text messages and place phone calls to other Viber users for free. The IM and VoIP software is designed to run on various mobile operating systems where you can make audio and video calls, record and send video and voice messages, reply and like messages in group conversations, and attach stickers and GIFs to your messages and conversations. Sharing and exchanging of images, video and audio files is also possible with the platform. Installing and using Viber to contact other Viber users via desktop, laptop and smartphone are completely free. Calling actual landlines and mobile phones vary per country but usually cost less than $1/minute in most countries.

Why Choose Viber?

  1. Fully functional free messaging system. Viber to Viber calls and messages via Wi-Fi or 3G connectivity can be done at absolutely zero cost while international calls to landline and mobile numbers are charged at low rates.
  2. Multi-platform compatible. The messaging app offers an inexpensive way to share images, files, and audio, and can run on all kinds of devices – desktop, laptops, and smartphones.
  3. Secure platform. Viber uses end-to-end encryption by default which means it can’t listen in on your video or audio calls. It also does not and can not sell your content since nothing is ever stored in Viber’s servers once content and messages are delivered.

8. Jabber

Jabber is a VoIP system from Cisco that runs as an XML-based open source platform which allows you to make calls from anywhere across the country without paying additional fees. It is similar to Linux or Apache systems except that it features an email-like interface with basic instant messaging as well as conferencing, call queuing and recording, supervised transfer, talk detection, and contact list tools. Jabber is compatible with various systems and devices. All you need is a stable internet connection and you can download the app, install it in your device, and make direct calls from your smartphone or computer. It is offered through custom pricing, letting you pick only the features you want.

Why Choose Jabber? 

  1. Multi-device and multi-platform compatible. Jabber works on iPhone, iPad and Android devices and is compatible with Mac, Windows, and Linux systems, making it an ideal collaborative tool you can take with you anywhere.
  2. Communication and collaboration tools. Jabber offers many collaboration tools that allow you to stay connected with your team wherever they are. It delivers video and voice messaging, instant messaging, conferencing, desktop sharing and more.
  3. Deployment options. You can choose to have Jabber on cloud or on-premise, giving you deployment flexibility that suits your business requirements.

9. Zoho Cliq

Zoho Cliq replaced what was formerly Zoho Chat. The rebranded and re-engineered version of Zoho’s communication app has been given extra features aside from real-time chat and messaging. It now has voice and video call functionality, a much-needed tool for modern teams that operate on cohesive communication and deep collaboration. Other Chat features are kept, such as chat rooms, private chat, multiple channels, file sharing, notification feeds, and mobile apps. While it is a cloud-hosted software, there are also desktop apps for Windows, Mac and Ubuntu systems.  Zoho Cliq comes in two packages – a feature-laden free edition and an unlimited edition.

Why Choose Zoho Cliq?

  1. Forever free plan. A robust free plan is available for an unlimited number of users. It is packed with features and capabilities including a maximum of 100 participants per channel, 100GB file storage, and 10 active integrations. According to Zoho, this plan will remain forever free.
  2. Zoho interoperability. The Zoho ecosystem consists of over 40 different business and productivity apps that can connect and work with each other. Zoho Cliq integrates with most of these apps.
  3. Fork instead of thread. Threading, a structure used in emails, is confusing. You’ll often miss important posts in long conversation streams. Zoho Clig uses “fork” that isolates posts from the entire channel and turns it into a private direct message with a particular team member.

10. Phone.com

Phone.com is a business VoIP phone service billed as a flexible and cost-effective collaboration and communications solution for entrepreneurs and small businesses. The cloud-hosted platform is equipped with dozens of features to handle, deliver and manage local and long distance calls, voicemails, conferencing, text messaging, conferencing, schedules, web interfaces, and much more. Currently being used by over 25,000 customers, the internet telephony system is easy to deploy and can be up and running in minutes. It is available in three affordable plans with rates ranging from $9.99/month up to $29.99/month.

Why Choose Phone.com? 

  1. Feature-packed solution. More than 50 standard and premium features comprise Phone.com. These include call screening, forwarding and recording; SMS and voicemail; web conferencing; account management; address book and directories; voicemail transcription; CRM integration; call analytics; and many more.
  2. Phone service + phone system. The VoIP solution combines a phone service and a phone system into one platform. Its Android and iPhone apps enable small businesses to handle many telephone numbers and different professional and personal profiles on their smartphone.
  3. Adaptable platform. The platform is highly flexible and adaptable and delivers in-depth analysis and comprehensive reporting making it ideal for the needs of both small and big businesses.

11. ClickDesk

ClickDesk is a cloud communications platform that brings together the functionalities of help desk, live chat, voice, and video calls right to your website. Having a direct line of communication with your customers and website visitors helps boost customer support and drive sales. It enables you to instantly respond to visitors’ queries, as well as promptly reply to support tickets and offline chat through an integrated help desk. It also provides an in-browser video chat and social toolbar that allows you to give your customers a more personalized experience. ClickDesk integrates with dozens of third-party apps and is available in low-cost plans starting at $19.99/agent/month.

Why Choose ClickDesk?

  1. Instant customer interaction. With a live chat, voice and video, web analytics, and help desk, capabilities in one solution integrated with your website, you get the means to immediately interact with customers for any issue, query or concern.
  2. Lead generator. You can connect with your customers and potential clients on Twitter and Facebook to improve lead generation and social conversions.
  3. One-click integration. The software offers one-click integrations with commonly used apps and plugins including WordPress, Zendesk, Salesforce, Joomla, and Agile CRM.

12. Fuze

Fuze is a modern communications system that unifies video, voice and messaging into one cloud platform that lets you work from any device anytime and anywhere. Designed to enhance teamwork and productivity, Fuze offers intelligent business communications solutions such as collaboration tools, reporting options, contact center systems, and enterprise security. It powers the communication needs of noted agencies such as the Associated Press, National Geographic, and Kronos, although it is applicable for organizations of various sizes. Fuze integrates with over a dozen external apps and is offered on a quote basis.

Why Choose Fuze?

  1. Modern cloud PBX. Fuze leverages a cloud infrastructure and QoS-engineered network to give you a modern cloud telephony without the hassles, costs, and challenges associated with an on-premise system.
  2. Easy access. The platform is easily accessible via desktop, laptops, or mobile devices, allowing you to place and accept business calls wherever you are and whenever you need to.
  3. Built for users’ needs. Developers applied a user behavior-driven approach to creating Fuze that ensures faster adoption and higher employee engagement rate.

13. Dialpad

Dialpad is an innovative business phone system used by companies like Xero, Quora, and Asana. It is intended to streamline and unify your communications infrastructure with a cloud-based platform that offers features and capabilities such as VoIP, MMS, IVR, call monitoring and recording, group messaging, visual voicemail, voice recognition, and contact management. Dialpad integrates with Google Suite, Microsoft Office 365, and Salesforce. It has three affordable plans with prices ranging from $15 to $35/user/month.

Why Choose Dialpad?

  1. Flexibility. Dialpad lets you retain any current phone number or change it without setting up another account, giving you a flexible system that’s backed by reliable technical support.
  2. Several device options. The platform is accessible from both mobile and desktop and does not need new hardware. Its as simple as installing and configuring it according to your needs, and you’re good to go.
  3. One-click conferencing. Dialpad provides an online conferencing tool that lets you initiate conference calls with a single button click. It likewise offers group IM and video calls which it an ideal collaborative solution.

By Louie Andre

B2B & SaaS market analyst and senior writer for FinancesOnline. He is most interested in project management solutions, believing all businesses are a work in progress. No stranger to small business hiccups and drama, having been involved in a few internet startups. Prior to his for-profit ventures, he has had managed corporate communications for a Kansas City-based Children International unit.

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1 Comments »
Braden Martin says:

Wow...so many cloud phone systems have emerged over the years. It's great to see that the market for this is growing at a fast pace. This is a very informative article, thanks for sharing it up here.

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