How We Chose the Best VoIP ServicesMany companies offer VoIP services, which enable users to make and receive telephone calls and text messages over the internet. These services give firms the flexibility needed to manage remote workers and handle calls without hiring additional clerical staff. With so many services offering multiple features and benefits, it can be difficult to choose the right VoIP service for your business. We evaluated VoIP companies based on what's most important.
Multiple VoIP TypesWe paid close attention to the VoIP types available to users. Several VoIP protocols exist, including SIP trunks, integrated access, hosted IP PBX, and managed IP PBX. Each type of VoIP has advantages and disadvantages for business users. For example, integrated access VoIP makes it possible to integrate VoIP software with traditional telephone systems, enhancing functionality while also allowing a firm to keep its existing phone number. It's important to choose a VoIP service that uses the right protocol for your needs.
Basic Phone FeaturesVoIP services are supposed to make it easier to manage calls and perform other business tasks. That's why it's important to assess each VoIP service based on its phone features. A good VoIP service typically offers call recording, call forwarding, and interactive voice response, all of which can improve efficiency and free up employees to handle other tasks.
Scalability OptionsFor new firms, it's important to choose a scalable VoIP service, which means the service is capable of growing with the business. The best VoIP services make it possible to add business texting, video conferencing, contact management and voicemail transcription as a business expands, increasing productivity without forcing the firm to switch to a provider with more features.
What Are VoIP Phone Services?
VoIP phone services use voice over internet protocols to enable communication to take place over the internet. Integrated access VoIP operates like a traditional telephone line, allowing businesses to integrate their existing telecommunications systems with VoIP software. The Session Initial Protocol (SIP) transmits information across a data network, making it possible for firms to eliminate their traditional telephone systems. SIP systems are based on a pay-as-you-go model, which reduces costs by having firms pay only for the minutes they use and not for unneeded services.
Hosted IP PBX services give businesses the best of both worlds: a unified communications solution without the overhead of expensive telephone equipment. The VoIP vendor is responsible for all hardware and software upgrades and maintenance, which can help businesses reduce their communication costs. Hosted IP PBX services also make it easier for small firms to compete with larger companies, as they typically offer auto attendants, hold music and other features that make a company appear much larger than it really is. Managed IP PBX services are similar to hosted services, but the phone hardware is located at the business site; however, the VoIP provider installs and manages the equipment.
Benefits of VoIP Phone Services
VoIP phone services have a variety of benefits for small businesses, including the following:
- Slash costs. VoIP phone services reduce payroll costs by eliminating the need for small businesses to hire multiple employees to answer the telephone, take messages, and route calls to the appropriate person. Depending on the type of VoIP protocol a service uses, VoIP phone services may also reduce overhead costs by eliminating the need to maintain telecommunications hardware and software.
- Enhance flexibility. With traditional phone systems, employees generally have to be at their desks to make and receive telephone calls. Even systems with the call-forwarding feature aren’t as flexible as many firms need them to be. With a VoIP service, communication takes place over the internet, allowing employees to make and receive calls or text messages from anywhere with a stable internet connection. This is especially helpful for firms with remote workers or employees who do a lot of traveling.
- Improve conference calls. Traditional phone systems don’t always make it easy to set up conference calls with many participants. VoIP services use data networks rather than dedicated phone lines, making it easier, more convenient and less expensive for participants to join each call.
Must-Have Features for VoIP Phone Services
VoIP companies offer a variety of features and service plans, but VoIP type, phone features, and scalability options are the most important for business owners to consider. Each type of VoIP has pros and cons, but what works best for one business may not be suitable for another. For example, an established business that’s been using the same telephone number for decades should consider an integrated access service to take advantage of VoIP technology without having to give up a phone number that clients have been using for years.
A good VoIP service should also offer a variety of telephone features to make it easier to manage calls. Some of these basic features include call recording, contacting management, call routing, and interactive voice response. The best VoIP phone services even offer video conferencing and voicemail transcription, giving businesses added flexibility. Finally, a VoIP service should provide a variety of scalability options, which make it possible for the service to grow with the firm. The best VoIP services make regular updates, giving users access to additional services that can help them grow their businesses. Scalable services also improve existing features, making them easier to use regardless of how big a business gets.
The Cost of VoIP Phone Services
The cost of using a VoIP phone service varies widely based on factors such as the number of users in the system, the service plan selected and the addition of extra features. For small firms that need to prioritize budget over advanced functionality, several companies offer VoIP services for less than $5 per month. Free plans are also available, but it’s important to understand the limitations of these free plans. The service may be limited to just a few users, or it may have hidden fees for doing anything other than forwarding calls to a mobile device.
Many providers offer mid-priced plans starting at anywhere from $12 to $20 per month. These plans typically have additional features, such as interactive voice response and unified communications. Mid-priced plans also tend to have fewer hidden fees, which may make them more budget-friendly than low-cost plans that have extra fees for advanced features. The most expensive plans have a base price ranging from $35 to $65 per month. These services may offer advanced features, such as international calling, making them ideal for large firms that want to take advantage of VoIP technology without sacrificing call quality and reliability.